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LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau: . KING: Now one of the problems in the relationship is Walter lies, right?. Chris Lemmon, who is staging the play "Jack Lemmon Returns," tells THR who had a healthy relationship with his father, legendary actor Jack Lemmon, who died There must be a million fond memories of Walter Matthau. JACK LEMMON AND WALTER MATTHAU appeared in 10 films together, ranging from the excellent – The Front Page – to duds such as Grumpier Old Men.
He drinks socially, then, increasingly, with his wife, until they are full-blown alcoholics. The couple, harrowingly played by Lemmon and Lee Remick, attempt to retain normality, but destruction follows.
Arguably Edwards's best movie, it began a collaboration that led, into Lemmon and Curtis reuniting in The Great Race. This broad comedy - the costliest in the genre to that date - has great moments, with Curtis lighter and more fun than his co-star, who was more suited to the subsequent The Fortune Cookie In Wilder's satirical comedy, Lemmon took the weaker role and Matthau gained an Oscar for his brilliant portrayal of the conniving brother-in-law. The duo also had great fun with The Odd Couple Sadly, they were to make The Odd Couple II 30 years later, a film that had none of the vivacity of the stagey original.
During the early s, Lemmon's run of good fortune continued. His only directorial effort, Kotch, was widely praised, and he was his usual frenetic self in Wilder's Avanti!
He was to receive his second Oscar, for best actor, the following year for his intense performance as a businessman resorting to arson to avoid bankruptcy. From an opening scene in Save the Tigerwhen he looks in the shaving mirror and laments the cost of maintaining his lifestyle, Lemmon displays a blend of vulnerability and arrogance, typical of his gallery of misfits. Although there had been duds along the way, Lemmon's screen career had been remarkably successful, and he was enormously popular with the public and his peers.
But he was to give increasingly mannered performances in the next years, partly to compensate for weaker films - even from Wilder - including The Front Page and Buddy, Buddy He found himself stressed and drinking too much, which led to a fine for drink driving in He finally gave up alcohol in the early s, and gradually cut out his huge cigarette consumption in favour of cigars, then, later, a comforting pipe.
The decade yielded him few decent movies, however, and he even appeared as the pilot in the pot-boiler, Airport '77, and a poor reworking of John Osborne's The Entertainer for television. Only the gripping China Syndromedealing with his pet concern of ecology, proved a great commercial and critical success.
He did, however, make many television specials, including a programme about his favourite composer, Gershwin, and a tribute to his friend Ernie Kovacs.
InLemmon returned successfully to the stage in Tribute, playing a publicist, who, discovering that he is terminally ill, desperately tries to re-connect with his estranged wife and son. It was subsequently filmed but, despite plaudits, including a silver bear at Berlin instill seems intensely theatrical on screen.
There were better movies to follow, though, notably Costa-Gavras's Missingin which Lemmon is a father desperately searching for his son, who has disappeared in Chile during the Pinochet coup. The film was critical of the regime - and of American support there - but Lemmon also saw it as a portrait of an ordinary family man in deep crisis.
Obituary: Jack Lemmon | Film | The Guardian
In Mass Appealhe was a priest trying to help a young homosexual with his faith and, the next year, proved, even working opposite Marcello Mastroianni, that nothing could save soggy Macaroni. Then he starred in an intriguing failure, That's Life, cast in the semi-autobiographical role of his close friend, Blake Edwards.
The film, about an architect going through a mid-life crisis, was part written by Edwards's psychiatrist, and co-starred the director's wife Julie Andrews, with Lemmon's actress wife, Felicia Farr, as the seductress. His son Chris was also in the movie, shot largely at Edwards's home.
It proved a box-office disaster. He starred on Broadway, on tour and - importantly for Lemmon - made his London debut in the piece, directed by Jonathan Miller. They subsequently filmed it for television. As the years progressed, Lemmon became increasingly active, happy to take character roles, including a year-old in Dada telling cameo as Jack Martin, in Oliver Stone's controversial JFKand the lacerating role in David Mamet's ensemble work, Glengarry Glen Ross His performance as the pitiful Shelley Levene was unequalled in his later career.
Lemmon's favourite pastimes were golf, pool and the piano, and he got to use the last in Robert Altman's The Player His musical talents had led him to record an album, A Twist of Lemon, and to compose themes for two of his films, Fire Down Below and Tribute.
Their penultimate work together was Grumpier Old Men also Lemmon was in front of the cameras four times duringthough to little effect. That still remains right, that has not changed? What is your pastime? Dice, I love to shoot dice. No, I -- you eat cereal? I am very, very puffed wheat. I like to walk. I love walking, listening to Mozart.
No, golf has never been one of my I used to do that. You don't bet anymore? No, no I gave I up betting. You don't bet sports events?
No, I will not bet another game. Did you take a devastating loss somewhere? Took a terrible loss and never bet another game. Do you believe that? No, I don't believe him. This guy -- he looks like such a scholar and from Harvard. You still play cards? No, I don't see well enough. I don't see well enough. Did you go to Gambler's Anonymous? How did you lick this? Well, I haven't licked it yet because You just said you'll never bet again. Yes, but the last bet I made was No, actually I am in a cold spell so I gave it up.
Also, my bookie went to Europe. You have never been attracted to gambling have you? I don't know why but I haven't.
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- Walter Matthau
So there's a lot of things I think it's great fun sometimes when I am playing golf just to give it a little uch, is to bet the other guy five bucks a hole or something like that.
Have you ever tried to get him to play golf? Yes, I got him to go out to Hill Crest and walk around with me one day. I walked -- he says, it keeps me away from the bookie too long and it's a waste of time. The walking is good but what's all of this swinging, I mean forget it? What are your memories of "Buddy, Buddy.
What are you talking about? The bone comes up now. I fell down, hit my shoulder. Making that movie, right? He went on a laundry chute onto a platform that was about 12 feet high with mattresses on it.
And I might have gone first, but when we came back from lunch, it was set up. We hadn't done the shot yet. And I said, let's try it, and Walter says, OK. I said, go ahead, you want to go first? He says, fine I'll do it. So he went feet first into the thing and he landed on the platform but we didn't know the platform had not been set in the right position yet.
It was just sort of under the chute but it was too far away.
What is your favorite pairing of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon?
So when he landed his fanny just landed on the platform and the mattress and he automatically fell backwards but there was nothing to hold him. So he went backwards off the platform head first down onto the stage which is like cement. What do you mean like cent?
And he hit the cross bars with his shoulder on the way down.
That's what you meant -- see, that's why you threw me when I asked you the question, what is your memories of "Buddy, Buddy" and you give me a medical term. I want you to memorize that, Larry.
Therefore you did not enjoy that movie? Did you enjoy it, Jack? Yes, for the same reasons Didn't do as well as the others thought, right? Yes, I was not as crazy about the script frankly, despite Wilder's and I. Diamond's greatness -- I did not think it was one of their best. Anyway, be that as it may, here's a scene as we go to break from "Buddy, Buddy. What the hell is this? I thought I'd never find you. Just who are you looking for?
Who am I looking -- you, Trabucco. There's nobody here by that name. There's nobody here by that -- what are you trying to do to me? I -- it's taken me months! Sorry, you got the wrong island. Fix up his boat.
Give him a gallon of water and away he goes. For God's sake don't you recognize me, Victor Clooney, the turkey, the piss brain. Hey dickhead, you win the lottery? Enjoy your shower, smartass? Gotta use hot water you shmuck! You'll never get me. See you later, Gustafson. Are you always open to projects, gentlemen? I didn't know whether you meant French or you meant you were speaking for the both of you.
Walter Matthau - Wikipedia
Always open to new projects. You do apparently work a lot more than Walter of late. By that I mean, you always seem to be doing something. The last few years -- last couple of years, yes, I have really worked too much. And how is your health? We're concerned, we read reports of Matthau? My health is tremendous. Everything is absolutely perfect. Except for the blindness. Now, you couldn't see the camera. Well, I got a cataract here. It's a micro cyst on the cornea.
This one, I've had lens implant and I've had some laser beams opening up a window in the capsule. So I see perfectly with this one. This one needs a little work.
Everything else is tip-top? Where did the rumors start then, do you think? Well, you know, if you have a boil on one of your buttocks You know what a buttock is, you know what it And if you have a boil there If you have a boil on the buttocks There are newspapers that will blow that up in the headlines.
Cancer of the buttock. Three days to live! So what you're telling is, you did have a boil on the buttock and those stories Well, it was a smaller boil. And your health, Mr. Do either of you ever think of retiring?