Jack Lemmon only directed one film during his award winning career. Wouldn’t you just know that the actor he cast in the lead role was his frequent costar and longtime friend Walter Matthau.
Like his role in The Sunshine Boys, Walter is playing a character far older than he actually was at the time. He stars here as the father of Charles Aidman who is married to Felicia Farr. He’s overly fond of his grandson and never seems to shut up driving those around him to exasperation as he constantly talks in riddles.
He competes with the new babysitter played by Deborah Winters for what he sees as control of his grandsons upbringing when the baby’s parents are not home. Farr having had enough convinces her hubby to put his old man in a retirement home. Walter isn’t impressed. One of the films highlights is where he sits in with a psychiatrist who is evaluating his mental stability. This affords Matthau a chance to shine bright.
Matthau is having none of this and takes to the road. His journey leads him full circle to home where he becomes concerned with Winters who was acting as the babysitter. She’s about to become an unwed mother and Walter tracks her down. This leads to the unlikely pair becoming roommates and it’s their relationship that sustains the film.
Taking on a role as a surrogate father to Winters and feeling the part of an expecting Dad gives Matthau’s character a new lease on life and makes him feel young again. It’s a good thing he accompanies her to a class for expected mothers which includes a film as he may just need to deliver the child by the film’s fade out.
Walter was nominated for the Oscar this time out losing out to Gene Hackman’s Popeye Doyle. It’s interesting to not that Lemmon joins the likes of Charles Laughton and Marlon Brando as world famous talent that only lent their skill to directing just one film.
It’s not surprising either that Jack cast beautiful Felicia Farr as Walter’s daughter in law. Farr was married to Jack from 1962 up until his death.
Character actor Charles Aidman always seemed to have a natural presence in countless television shows over the years ranging from Little House on the Prairie to Gunsmoke.
This one had been on my shelf for longer than I care to admit but am glad I finally got around to giving it a look. It’s no classic but means well and with Matthau along for the ride it’s hard to go wrong.