AFI Movie Club: THE ODD COUPLE – American Film Institute
The Odd Couple Film Still - Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau



THE ODD COUPLE features the talent of AFI Life Achievement Award recipient Jack Lemmon and ranks #17 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs list of the funniest American movies of all time.

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Watch Nathan Lane announce the THE ODD COUPLE:

Movie Trivia about THE ODD COUPLE

DID YOU KNOW? THE ODD COUPLE is based on a 1965 Broadway play of the same name by Neil Simon, who adapted his work for the screen. While Walter Matthau, who starred as Oscar Madison in the theatrical production, reprised the role in the movie, Jackie Gleason and Mickey Rooney were also considered for the part.

DID YOU KNOW? Paramount acquired the film rights to “The Odd Couple” before it was even written. The deal was the result of a chance meeting at the studio, when Neil Simon was working on adapting his 1963 hit play, “Barefoot in the Park.” Simon mentioned his ideas for the play, and it was purchased sight unseen. When “The Odd Couple” became a Broadway success, Paramount reaped the rewards of the early option.

DID YOU KNOW?Although Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau were already cast in the film, Frank Sinatra erroneously announced his own casting as Felix Ungar on THE TONIGHT SHOW.

DID YOU KNOW? Producer Howard W. Koch stepped down as chief of Paramount Pictures to work independently at the studio. THE ODD COUPLE was the first of his three-picture deal and was scheduled as Paramount’s first production to start shooting in 1967.

DID YOU KNOW? Location filming took place in New York City, but interiors were shot at Paramount Studios soundstages in Los Angeles. The movie was made for roughly $4 million.

DID YOU KNOW? The scene at Shea Stadium was shot one hour before the start of an actual game between the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates on June 27, 1967. At a budget of $10,000 and with a team of 75 crew members, a triple-play was filmed in two takes with a total of 4 ½ minutes of footage.

DID YOU KNOW? Press reviews for THE ODD COUPLE were prohibited prior to release, a practice that studios generally used when the film was expected to garner a negative reception. When the film premiered at Radio City Music Hall, however, it was a critical and commercial success, leading to the second highest box-office gross of 1968.

DID YOU KNOW? THE ODD COUPLE was the first film to be rebooked as the in-flight film on a major airline. It was so successful, Pam Am and United brought it back for a second run.

DID YOU KNOW? Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau reprised their roles in a sequel released 30 years later, THE ODD COUPLE II, which was released in 1998.

DID YOU KNOW? THE ODD COUPLE was nominated for two Oscars® in the categories of Best Film Editing and Best Screenplay. It marked editor Frank Bracht’s first and only Academy Award® recognition before his death in 1985.


Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

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-What are the circumstances that bring Oscar and Felix together, and how do their conflicts help them navigate challenging aspects of their lives, such as divorce?

-After a long and successful run on Broadway, “The Odd Couple” was adapted into a movie that resulted in various remakes and spinoffs. To this day, the play continues to be performed regularly at schools and regional theaters. What is it about the story that makes it so appealing to American audiences? Why do you think it has become a staple of American popular culture?

-Comedy, absurdity and laughter have long been used by playwrights and filmmakers as a device to evoke an emotional response from audiences, helping them to identify with characters and stories that may be considered inappropriate or unacceptable to social norms. In this way, comedy has stood as an agent for empathy and even openness to cultural change. Do you see this reflected in THE ODD COUPLE? Does humor help you connect with Oscar and Felix? How do you think their story would have been viewed in 1968?

-What is the significance of poker to Oscar and Felix? What does it represent to their social circle? Do you see the game as a metaphor for the issues they are confronting in their personal lives?

-How is gender represented in THE ODD COUPLE? What role do the Pigeon sisters have in the development of the story?

-At the time in which THE ODD COUPLE was released, divorce was much more uncommon than it is today, and it was not accepted as a social norm. How does the dissolution of marriage effect Oscar and Felix differently?

-How would you rate THE ODD COUPLE?

In this exclusive clip from the AFI Archive, Jack Lemmon talks about working on THE ODD COUPLE:

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