Kotch (1971) B-
Changing positions, the multi-Oscar winning actor Jack Lemmon made his feature directorial debut with “Kotch,” starring his friend and team player, Walter Matthau.
In an Oscar nominated turn, Matthau is well cast as Joseph P. “Kotch” Kotcher, an irksome and easily irritable 72-year-old who lives with his son (Charles Aidman) and daughter-in-law (played by Lemmon’s wife Felicia Farr).
Grumpy old man: Kotch is not senile (yet), but more often than not he upsets and irritates his family. Stubborn and opinionated to a fault, he insists on expressing his views on everything, big and small issues. He particularly likes to provoke and challenge his daughter-in-law’s authority.
When the family suggests that Kotch moves to a retirement home, the rebellious old man decides instead to take a long bus ride, hoping that his family will have cooled off by the time he returns.
Before leaving, he tries to make amends with the family’s former baby-sitter Erica (Deborah Winters), who he had previously offended and even fired. Upon learning that Erica is pregnant, Kotch loans her money, and when she relocates to Palm Springs, he moves in with her, hoping to be of help.
As they get to know one another, Kotch and Erica discover that they’re very much alike. Both have been outsiders, cast aside by their relatives due to their independent airs and idiosyncratic personalities.
Though he was only 51, when playing the seventysomething widower, Matthau gives a compelling performance, adding yet another portraiture to his gallery of grumpy old men.
The only movie Lemmon had ever directed, “Kotch” was adapted by John Paxton from a novel by Katharine Topkins.
Lemmon makes a cameo appearance as a bus rider.
Oscar Nominations: 4
Actor: Walter Matthau
Sound: Richard Portman and Jack Solomon
Song: Life Is What You Make of It, nusic by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Film Editing: Ralph E. Winters
Oscar Awards: None
The winner of the Best Actor Oscar was Gebe Hackman for The French Connection, which also won Film Editing for Jerry Greenberg.
The Sound Oscar went to the musical Fiddler on the Roof. Isaac Hayes won the Best Song Oscar for “Shaft.”
Credits Running time: 113 Minutes.
Drama, Classics, Comedy
Directed By:Jack Lemmon
Written By:John Paxton
Released: September 17, 1971.
DVD: July 6, 2004
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