"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
Gabriel Garcia Marquez: "One Hundred Years of Solitude"
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Saturday, 17 April 2010
My Heroes (25): Walter Matthau
Walter Matthau (1920 - 2000) was one of those film actors who was always very watchable even in a bad movie. He had a long career and has a large body of work to his name. My personal favourites are:
The Fortune Cookie. Directed by the wonderful Billy Wilder, one of Matthau's dozen or so collaborations with Jack Lemmon. He played a shyster lawyer who attempts to gain exhorbitant damages for his reluctant brother-in-law, played by Lemmon, who gets 'injured' while working as a TV cameraman at a football game.
Charley Varrick. This time he is a crop-duster who robs a small town bank that just happens to be where the mafia keep lots of their cash. The twists and turns of plot as they try to get their cash back from a wiley Varrick (Matthau) is hugely entertaining.
The Sunshine Boys. This time Walter is paired with George Burns. They portray a pair of former vaudeville comedians who once had a famous double-act although they have not spoken to each other for many years. Matthau's nephew (Richard Benjamin) is trying to re-unite the pair for a TV special. Great stuff, scripted by Neil Simon. "Enter!" (You had to be there.)
The Odd Couple. Felix is a neurotic divorcee who moves in with his slob of a friend Oscar, (Matthau.... of course), after the breakdown of his marriage. The comedy ensues from the interplay of the two chalk-and-cheese personalities. The writer Neil Simon claims that he based his original Broadway play on stories told to him by Mel Brooks after his own divorce. Thirty years later they made a sequel excitingly called The Odd Couple 2.
Other superb Matthau performances were given in Hello Dolly, Little Miss Marker, The Bad News Bears, The Front Page, Plaza Suite and many others.
For me, he could hardly do any wrong and I feel good just talking about these films.