Film review – The Out-of-Towners (Arthur Hiller, 1970)

George Kellerman (Jack Lemmon) and his wife Gwen (Sandy Dennis) travel from Twin Oaks, Ohio to New York City so that George can attend an interview for a promotion within his own plastics company. Though the trip is planned to perfection by the meticulous George, the plans quickly unravel when the plane is held up in landing and from then on everything that can go wrong, does go wrong.

The Out-of-Towners was the second time Lemmon worked on a Neil Simon film, the first being The Odd Couple (released two years prior to this release). It’s a shame that The Out-of-Towners doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor in terms of number of laughs delivered, though it is not without merits.

Jack Lemmon is at the forefront of most of the laughs.

Jack Lemmon is at the forefront of most of the laughs.

Jack Lemmon is in fantastic form as the increasingly irate George, who just wants everything to go according to plan. Ne it the delayed plane, the lost hotel booking or the missed reservation at The Four Seasons Restaurant, Lemmon delivers on a journey of frustration that I’m sure every viewer can associate with.

Sandy Dennis’s Gwen, though, contrasted George with a matter-of-fact interpretation of events, not allowing her anger to show aside from her disappointment with how George was handling the situations presented. It serves as more of a feeder character for more laughs from Lemmon, as her persona understandably makes George even more irate.

I watched this film because it was recommended to me by a close friend. It isn’t going to be something I rush to watch again but I certainly did enjoy it for the most part. At times I found Sandy Dennis highly annoying, but that was the point of her characterisation. I’ll never say no to a Jack Lemmon comedy though, and I can’t imagine the 1999 remake starring Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn is a patch on this.

The Out-of-Towners is available on DVD now, though the steep price tag for a PAL version may put most people off. It can also be seen currently on Netflix UK for those with accounts.

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