My oldest friend, Nell, used to work as a police officer. A job she loathed. The only fringe benefit was being based in Durham City gave her carte blanche to ticket/ arrest/ harass the very annoying, spoilt and snooty university students (and occasionally the stuttering, tweedy fuckwit Durham University lecturers too). Anyway, at one point in her career she was on the receiving end of the arduous attentions of a very persistent female officer called Sheila. Now, the only lavender fantasies Nell has ever indulged in are purely of the L'Occitane bath product variety. I asked Nell what Sheila was like. She shuddered.
'Like Walter Matthau, only not as feminine.'
I love Walter Matthau. And The Odd Couple has a particular place in my heart. I watched The Odd Couple 2 this week (made 30 years after the original). In truth it was dire, although it did have the odd moment of genius.
Walter: I was sorry to hear what happened with your last wife. I heard she went very quickly.
Jack: She did. She left while I was sleeping.
There is something rather wonderful about Walter Matthau's face. I have often thought the character of Oscar is terribly Rochester-esque. He is, lets face it, an unreliable, sardonic, fanny-ratting, egotistical slob. He has the disheveled charm of a randy, homeless mongrel. The kind you find rummaging through your bins at midnight. The kind you really should shoo away, but somehow you find yourself stroking tenderly and hand-feeding fillet steak. Of course, you regret it when he pees on the carpet and you find him shagging your favourite Laura Ashley cushion. In short, he is a charming, panama-hat-wearing rogue. A swarthy rogue.
However, what only occurred to me whilst watching The Odd Couple 2, is how much like Senor Boldon (Rochester's brother) the Jack Lemmon charcater is. Felix is riddled with obsessive compulsive traits, paranoid about what he eats, ordered, conservative, routine-obsessed and rather forlorn when on his own.
So, for a tribute to the wonderful film The Odd Couple, and very possibly a penetrating insight into the motley psychology of Senor Boldon and Rochester click here .
p.s. Watch out for the look on Walter's face after the 'You're tops with me.' line. It is pure, hang-dog, comic genius. I tell you what, give me Walter Matthau over feathery stroker Brad Pitt or lisping nanny-shagger Jude Law any day. A real man.