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Jack Lemon & Walter Mathu


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4 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

My picks for a Matthau solo day:

Slaughter on 10th Avenue (Universal, 1957) - The cause of a brave longshoreman (Mickey Shaughnessy) lives on after he's gunned down by three racketeers (Joe Downing, Harry Bellevar, Nick Dennis) when a determined assistant DA (Richard Egan) searches hard for fearful witnesses against the men. Matthau plays the union boss who orders the hit.
TCM Airings: 1

Gangster Story (Releasing Corp. of Independent Producers, 1959) - A hoodlum (Matthau) is on the lam. He robs a small-town bank, which brings the local cops and the local mob boss (Bruce MacFarlane) into the mix. Also directed by Matthau.
TCM Airings: 7

Who's Got the Action? (Paramount, 1962) - A hunch horse player (Dean Martin) finds his marriage threatened by his betting ways. In desperation, his wife (Lana Turner) decides to become his bookie. Matthau plays a professional bookie who tries to hone in on everyone else's action.
TCM Airings: 0

Goodbye, Charlie (20th Century Fox, 1964) - A womanizer shot by a jealous husband (Matthau) falls into the sea, only to be resurrected as an amnesiac woman (Debbie Reynolds). Once his/her memory is recovered and he/she convinces a friend taking care of his/her affairs (Tony Curtis), of his/her identity, he/she plots to marry into wealth with his help.
TCM Airings: 0

The Secret Life of an American Wife (20th Century Fox, 1968) - A bored housewife (Anne Jackson) poses as a call girl for a sex symbol movie star (Matthau), hoping to prove to her husband (Patrick O'Neal), who's the star's agent, that she's still desirable to other men, thereby rekindling the spark in their marriage.
TCM Airings: 0

Cactus Flower (Universal, 1969) - A dentist (Matthau) pretends to be married to avoid commitments, but when he falls for his girlfriend (Goldie Hawn) and proposes to her, he asks his nurse (Ingrid Bergman) to pose as his wife so he can "divorce" her.
TCM Airings: 37

Charley Varrick (Universal, 1973) - A crop duster (Matthau), his wife (Jacqueline Scott) and a friend (Andrew Robinson) stage a bloody bank robbery without realizing they're stealing from the Mob.
TCM Airings: 9

The Sunshine Boys (MGM, 1975) - A vaudeville duo (Matthau, George Burns) agree to reunite for a television special, even though they can't stand each other.
TCM Airings: 58

House Calls (Universal, 1978) - A recently widowed surgeon (Matthau) embarks on a tragicomic romantic quest until he encounters a unique woman closer to his own age (Glenda Jackson) who immediately and unexpectedly captures his heart.
TCM Airings: 0

The Couch Trip (Orion, 1988) - A burned-out shrink (Charles Grodin) needs a temporary replacement. A charming escaped convict (Dan Akyroyd) takes over his practice and his radio show. Matthau plays a shyster preacher who discovers Akyroyd's secret and blackmails him.
TCM Airings: 0

Dennis the Menace (Warner Bros., 1993) - When the Mitchells (Robert Stanton, Lea Thompson) have to go out of town, Dennis (Mason Gamble) stays with Mr. and Mrs. Wilson (Matthau, Joan Plowright). The little menace is driving Mr. Wilson crazy, but Dennis just wants to be helpful. Even to the thief who's arrived in town (Christopher Lloyd).
TCM Airings: 0

I'm Not Rappaport (Gramercy, 1996) - Two old men - a white former political radical (Matthau) and a black retired custodian (Ossie Davis) - form an unlikely friendship on a park bench in New York City, dealing with family, drug dealers and the pitfalls of old age.
TCM Airings: 0

I would add two more films to your list-- THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE (1974) and THE BAD NEWS BEARS (1976).

Glad you mentioned HOUSE CALLS, the first of Matthau's two pairings with his pal Glenda Jackson. The second one was HOPSCOTCH a few years later, which is also very good.

I think my favorite performance of his from the early part of his career is him playing a villain in THE KENTUCKIAN (1955). The scene where he whips Burt Lancaster (literally!) is very memorable.

DENNIS THE MENACE is one that would have worked perfectly for Essentials Jr. Matthau and Plowright are a delightful pair!

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So, nobody liked LITTLE MISS MARKER('80)?

I thought it was kinda cute.  But like I stated earlier....

Matthau was an asset in any movie he was in.  ;) 

Sepiatone

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Just Lemmon:

Some Like It Hot

Days of Wine and Roses

The Apartment

It Should Happen to You or Mister Roberts

Even though I made this lineup, I think I would complain about it if it were real. The first three films are aired often enough that I think the order would be based on which one had the primetime spot least recently. Mister Roberts might be the better pick, but I really like It Should Happen To You. I usually like when they include one of their first roles, but I also think it would help balance \all the newer movies that will be shown later in the month.

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I thought matthau in the sunshine boys was just awful. burns was 25 years his senior. my favorite matthau performances are a new leaf, the taking of pelham one, two, three and Hopscotch.

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5 hours ago, NipkowDisc said:

I thought matthau in the sunshine boys was just awful. burns was 25 years his senior. my favorite matthau performances are a new leaf, the taking of pelham one, two, three and Hopscotch.

Yes, Matthau is too young for the role. The Matthau we see in his last film, HANGING UP (2000), is how he should have appeared in THE SUNSHINE BOYS.

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Frankly, I thought Matthau in THE SUNSHINE BOYS did excellently portraying a character much older than his real age.  Top notch make-up job too.  And I brought this up before too....

Burns, in a Playboy interview, said he was amazed at Matthau's ability to get into the character.  "No sooner than when the make-up job was done, he DID become an 80+ year old man.  I even had to help him into his chair."  ;)  And besides....

It's not really a matter of whether or not Matthau was old enough or too young for the role.  He just needed to be a good enough ACTOR to do the part, and I thought Matthau definitely had the chops. 

Sepiatone

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Matthau did a fine job in SUNSHINE BOYS. No doubt he's an excellent actor and he turned in an excellent performance in that movie. However, he was still too young.

I am sure there were plenty of old vaudeville stars still around that would've loved to have made a comeback playing Matthau's part. I am assuming Matthau was hired because he was a box office name. Burns hadn't scored his biggest hit yet in OH GOD which came two years later.

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Matthau as a "box office name" might have had a very slight margin for his getting the part.  But my money is on THE SUNSHINE BOYS being a NEIL SIMON vehicle as the major factor.  Simon, based on experience, probably trusted Matthau to turn in a sterling performance, as he did with THE ODD COUPLE .  And we covered that "too young" nonsense elsewhere.  ;) 

Sepiatone

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25 minutes ago, Sepiatone said:

Matthau as a "box office name" might have had a very slight margin for his getting the part.  But my money is on THE SUNSHINE BOYS being a NEIL SIMON vehicle as the major factor.  Simon, based on experience, probably trusted Matthau to turn in a sterling performance, as he did with THE ODD COUPLE . 

So you are saying Simon oversaw the casting on his films? Where do you have evidence of this? :) 

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32 minutes ago, TopBilled said:

So you are saying Simon oversaw the casting on his films? Where do you have evidence of this? :) 

By coincidence, I was just looking at what Wikipedia says about the casting of The Sunshine Boys, and it provides some indication that Neil Simon did have a role in the casting:

"Initially, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby were proposed for the leads, but Simon was opposed to the idea, as he felt the roles required Jewish comedians. Several actors, including Groucho Marx and Phil Silvers were considered and the roles eventually were given to real-life vaudevillian veterans Red Skelton and Jack Benny.

"Skelton declined after realizing his income was higher performing his stand-up comedy than what he was offered for the film; he was replaced by the younger Matthau.[2] Benny was forced to withdraw after being diagnosed with the pancreatic cancer that would soon claim him and recommended his friend and fellow real-life vaudevillian veteran Burns for the role, who had not been in a film since 1939.  Burns' Academy Award-winning role revived his career and redefined his popular image as a remarkably active, older comedy star."

So it looks like Simon did want actual vaudevillians who were Jewish to play Willy and Al.  The separate Wikipedia article on Red Skelton also suggests that Simon was one of the casting decision makers: "Although Simon had planned to cast Jack Albertson, who played Willy on Broadway, in the same role for the film, Skelton's screen test impressed him enough to change his mind."

I'd guess that once Skelton dropped out, Matthau was brought in because of his box-office appeal, not to mention his previously demonstrated success in Neil Simon roles  (The Odd Couple (stage and film); Plaza Suite (film only)).

I love The Sunshine Boys and think that Matthau and Burns both did outstanding work.  If I didn't already know that Matthau was actually much younger than his character, I wouldn't have guessed it.

I wouldn't have minded seeing the Broadway stars reprise their roles on film, however.  Jack Albertson and Sam Levene were both very successful stage and screen actors, and Albertson was also a former vaudevillian.  I'm not sure if Levene ever played in vaudeville, although his 50+ years on Broadway ("Dinner at Eight," "Guys and Dolls") and on film (After the Thin Man, The Killers) certainly show his range.

 

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11 minutes ago, BingFan said:

By coincidence, I was just looking at what Wikipedia says about the casting of The Sunshine Boys, and it provides some indication that Neil Simon did have a role in the casting:

"Initially, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby were proposed for the leads, but Simon was opposed to the idea, as he felt the roles required Jewish comedians. Several actors, including Groucho Marx and Phil Silvers were considered and the roles eventually were given to real-life vaudevillian veterans Red Skelton and Jack Benny.

"Skelton declined after realizing his income was higher performing his stand-up comedy than what he was offered for the film; he was replaced by the younger Matthau.[2] Benny was forced to withdraw after being diagnosed with the pancreatic cancer that would soon claim him and recommended his friend and fellow real-life vaudevillian veteran Burns for the role, who had not been in a film since 1939.  Burns' Academy Award-winning role revived his career and redefined his popular image as a remarkably active, older comedy star."

So it looks like Simon did want actual vaudevillians who were Jewish to play Willy and Al.  The separate Wikipedia article on Red Skelton also suggests that Simon was one of the casting decision makers: "Although Simon had planned to cast Jack Albertson, who played Willy on Broadway, in the same role for the film, Skelton's screen test impressed him enough to change his mind."

I'd guess that once Skelton dropped out, Matthau was brought in because of his box-office appeal, not to mention his previously demonstrated success in Neil Simon roles  (The Odd Couple (stage and film); Plaza Suite (film only)).

I love The Sunshine Boys and think that Matthau and Burns both did outstanding work.  If I didn't already know that Matthau was actually much younger than his character, I wouldn't have guessed it.

I wouldn't have minded seeing the Broadway stars reprise their roles on film, however.  Jack Albertson and Sam Levene were both very successful stage and screen actors, and Albertson was also a former vaudevillian.  I'm not sure if Levene ever played in vaudeville, although his 50+ years on Broadway ("Dinner at Eight," "Guys and Dolls") and on film (After the Thin Man, The Killers) certainly show his range.

Thanks for doing the research and getting back to us. Much appreciated. 

We could easily start a thread about Broadway stars who lost out on the film role. For instance Janis Paige earned raves for The Pajama Game, but was not allowed to recreate her successful portrayal in the movie (the part went to Doris Day).

THE SUNSHINE BOYS would have been a slightly different movie with Benny and Skelton. Maybe Skelton would have had a career resurgence and done other films and more television work. We'll never know.

But it sounds like Skelton enjoyed interacting with live audiences. So in a way, he was continuing the legacy of vaudeville while the movie was being made.

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22 hours ago, TopBilled said:

So you are saying Simon oversaw the casting on his films? Where do you have evidence of this? :) 

Was saying no such thing specifically, but given the success of Simon's plays when adapted to films it could be a sure bet he could be considered as having the clout to have his two cents paid attention to by film producers.   This is possibly the only "evidence" I could come up with.

Your witness.  ;)  (Now you can do your best Tracy as Darrow impersonation  ;) )

Sepiatone

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