When Life Gives You Lemmon……

Yesterday, yours truly returned from spending Christmas at mater’s to reacquaint myself with the role of housesitter at my marital home in east Leeds..

GJ Strachan’s Boxing Day one of greater dietary self-restraint than witnessed during Christmas Day’s over indulgence. Instead, my time filled writing, watching classic old movies, an Alan Partridge episode and consumption of a healthy seafood salad dinner. The latter a much required light meal, affording my bloated stomach respite from the previous 24 hours gluttony.

I’m a big fan of iconic old movies. This enamour including celluloid gems ranging from genres of Hitchcock’s macabre, Ken Loach’s kitchen sink dramas, Ealing Studio comedies, Billy Wilder’s whimsy/social comment and eclectic offerings from the Boulting brothers.

Amongst the films which yesterday literally proved to be a sight for sore eyes were two of Jack Lemmon’s finest, The Apartment and The Odd Couple. The former a five Academy Award winning movie, showing Lemmon seeking to climb the corporate ladder by allowing five executives, whose ‘club’ he aspired to join, use of his apartment for clandestine liaisons with ‘the other woman’.

Billy Wilder’s celluloid delicacy a social comment on misuse of money and influence by those with the financial and status wherewithal to abuse the acquiescent. A film noir where humour and starkness of the human condition play out in equal measure.

Lemmon’s career ambitions seemingly usurping his dignity and comfort needs. The target of his amour (played by Shirley MacLaine) driven to a suicide attempt by her manipulative, insensitive and uncaring boss. Perhaps my estranged wife’s late mother had a point when claiming all men are devils whose actions are driven by their rockets of evil!

Anyhow, despite this movie being 60 years old, the message within the plot remains equally as relevant now, even in these supposedly more enlightened, less misogynistic times. And, if you look at this behavioural flaw pragmatically, male genetic makeup, nature and nurture will no doubt ensure it’ll always exist on some level.

Despite the subject of suicide also manifesting in the plot of The Odd Couple, Neil Simon’s comedy bore significantly less darkness and social comment than The Apartment. The two lead characters, Lemmon and Walter Matthau, the very antithesis of each other behavioural wise. Matthau portraying Oscar Madison a slobby sports writer, Lemmon (Felix Ungar) the neurotic, OCD ridden friend who moves into his buddy’s apartment after splitting with his wife.

An offer Oscar soon regrets when Felix begins obsessively tidying the dump acting as Madison’s domicile. Felix’s re-arranging and refreshing of the apartment aesthetics, along with ingrained idiosyncratic behaviour, driving Matthau’s character to distraction. Episodes which severely, yet whimsically, test their long standing friendship to the core.

Perhaps worryingly, when re-watching The Odd Couple it struck me how similar I’d be if I were ever in Felix situation of briefly sofa surfing at someone’s untidy home. I’m unsure if its a good or bad thing, however, I’d suggest GJ Strachan would almost certainly be moved to afford the place a major tidy.

Anyhow, as mentioned above, Gj Strachan enjoyed a pleasantly calm Boxing Day afternoon/evening. Hours gifting me three A-list actors, Two great thought-provoking movies and Alan Partridge on the TV.

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