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For his only directorial effort, Jack Lemmon selected his old friend and habitual co-star Walter Matthau to play the central character. Joseph P. "Kotch" Kotcher (Walter Matthau) is an irksome 72-year-old who lives with his son (Charles Aidman) and daughter-in-law (played by Lemmon's wife Felicia Farr). Kotch is far from senile, but there are times that his family wishes he was a little more docile and doddering; he insists upon expressing his unwarranted opinions on all matters, both large and small, forever challenging his daughter-in-law's authority. When it is suggested that Kotch find himself a nice 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), whose dismissal he has brought about. Upon learning that Erica is pregnant, Kotch loans her some money; and when she moves away to Palm Springs, he moves in with her, hoping to be of some help. As they get to know one another, Kotch and Erica discover that they're very much alike: both have been cast aside by their relatives due to their independent airs. Kotch was adapted by John Paxton from a novel by Katharine Topkins. Watch for director Jack Lemmon in a bit as a bus passenger. … More
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as Joseph Kotcher
as Dr. Gaudillo
as Duncan Ketcher
as Miss Roberts
as Dr. McKernan
as Peter Herzenstiel
as Motel Manager
as Dorothy Ballinger
as Mrs. Fisher
as Mrs. Pugh
as Mrs. Segura
as Film Narrator
as Stranger on Bus
as Blue Scarecrow
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Critic Reviews for Kotch
Audience Reviews for Kotch
It's very interesting to see Lemmon direct for the first and only time and decide to go with Matthau rather than an aged actor. Matthau of course always looked old but here he sometimes hits the mark and other times doesn't. I wonder if the lukewarm result prompted Lemmon not to direct anything else.
Grandpa Kotch (Matthau) may be widowed and old, but he's plenty young in mind, body and spirit. The only problem is that his family members (and everyone else) are too involved in their own lives to take much interest in knowing someone who's - well, old.
So Matthau spends his days having his chattiness and compassion ignored. When daughter-in-law nudges Matthau out of the guest room and into a 'retirement village,' Matthau instead slips away, Greyhounding up the coast to British Columbia, dropping postcards back home to his baby grandchild.
Matthau eventually stumbles into the life of a pregnant, unwed teenager (Winters), who's been shuffled away to another town, cast off in shame by everyone, to give birth alone. It was an all-too-common, now all-but-forgotten, practice. Matthau sure knows how it feels to be shuffled away by loved ones - so he ever-so-gently takes Winters under his wing. In so doing, he slowly forges for himself a new life where some are pleased to call him friend.
Heartwarming, quaint, poignant are fair adjectives regarding Matthau's delivery, sometimes almost saccharine. Think Hallmark. Matthau's life-long career pal Jack Lemmon directs; the film plays so gentle since this project's really all about Lemmon showcasing his dear friend's talent with respect, love and admiration, as a gift from one true friend to another.
There's a lovely reoccurring idee fixe called "Life Is What You Make It" from the keyboard of Marvin Hamlisch which, somehow, has been as passed over by time as this film.
Straight out of the early 1970s and it shows; this has to be the last time in the history of cinema where a film portrays a doctor making a house call. Twice.
RECOMMENDATION: A warm tribute to the talent that was Matthau. Enjoy.
Walter Matthau gives a brilliant performance, and Jack Lemmon's sensitive direction makes this film a winner. It's a touching story and very well written. It's too bad Jack Lemmon didn't direct any other movies, he did such a terrific job here.
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