|Neil Simon with his Odd Couple, jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Photo by Timothy White.|
Playwright Neil Simon learned something from Jack Lemmon, whose range as an actor impressed him. “He is equally as funny in one of the greatest farces ever made, Some Like It Hot, as he is moving in Days of Wine and Roses, or as touching as he is in Glengarry Glen Ross,” Simon recalled in his memoir Rewrites. “The other important quality Jack has in something an actor can neither learn, be directed to do, nor buy for all the money in the world: you can’t help but like him.
“He is also appreciative and complimentary to the written word, and if he doesn’t like it, he will play it full out anyway and let you pick up that it doesn’t work. He once said in an interview, ‘Neil writes in definite rhythms and as in music, you can’t skip any of the notes. If his prepositions and conjunctions, such as but, if, and, or and it are left out, the music is wrong.’
“When I heard this, I was taken aback for a moment. I was unaware that this was true.”