Walter Matthau and George Burns star in director Herbert Ross’s very lively and amusing 1975 film version of Neil Simon’s play about two aged, feuding vaudeville comics, former partners before they fell out.
Jack Benny died before he could make his screen comeback as cantankerous old-time comedian Al Lewis, but Burns (aged 79) proves a brilliant, outstanding replacement, winning an Oscar while gently milking every line in his first film since 1939. In a great partnership, Matthau is the perfect foil as Willy Clark.
Richard Benjamin is stalwart in support, though he has the thankless task of playing straight man to the two stars as Matthau’s son, Ben, the agent who tries to bring the two comedians together again after they haven’t spoken to one another for a decade.
Although Burns actually starred, he won an Oscar for best supporting actor. Simon writes the screenplay from his own play, one of his very best, which was inspired by real-life vaudevillians Smith and Dale.
Also in the cast are Lee Meredith, Carol Arthur, Rosetta LeNoire, Howard Hesseman, Ron Rifkin, Fritz Feld, F Murray Abraham, James Cranna, Jack Bernardi, Garn Stephens and Santos Morales.
It was remade for TV in 1996, with Peter Falk and Woody Allen.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 3930
Check out more reviews on http://derekwinnert.com