You can tell that this film was a stage play. It’s kind of flat, even when the characters venture out of Oscar’s apartment. The dialogue, to be honest, is not consistently funny, and some of the business is predictable. But the chemistry between Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, and Lemmon’s comic timing (as always) save the day.
Felix Ungar: [serving refreshments at the poker game] Cold glass of beer for Roy…
Roy: Thank you.
Felix Ungar: Where’s your coaster?
Roy: My what?
Felix Ungar: Your coaster. The little round thing that goes under the glass.
Roy: I think I bet it.
Oscar Madison: [tosses the coaster back to Roy] Here, here, here. I knew I was winning too much! Here.
Felix Ungar: Always try to use your coasters, huh, fellas? A scotch and a little bit of water…
Speed: Scotch and a little bit of water and I have my coaster.
Felix Ungar: I don’t want to be a pest, but you know what glasses can do.
Oscar Madison: [under his breath] They leave little rings on the table.
Felix Ungar: They leave little rings on the table!
Oscar Madison: [under his breath] And we don’t want little rings on the table.
The two were first paired in “The Fortune Cookie” and would go on to make more great films together, but nothing matches their performances in this one. Even the trailer makes me smile. Jack Klugman and Tony Randall went on to make the tale their own, but if you haven’t seen the original, you don’t know what you’re missing.
(1 October 2011)