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Kotch (1971) Online

Kotch (1971) Online
Original Title :
Genre :
Movie / Comedy / Drama
Year :
Directror :
Jack Lemmon
Cast :
Walter Matthau,Deborah Winters,Felicia Farr
Writer :
John Paxton,Katharine Topkins
Type :
Time :
1h 53min
Rating :
Kotch (1971) Online

Wanting to avoid settling in a nursing home, Joseph Kotcher, a retired salesman, is obliged to leave his son's family. He embarks on a road trip during which he strikes up a friendship with a pregnant teenager and begins to understand the true meaning of life as he helps the girl give birth to her child. {locallinks-homepage}
Cast overview, first billed only:
Walter Matthau Walter Matthau - Joseph P. Kotcher
Deborah Winters Deborah Winters - Erica Herzenstiel
Felicia Farr Felicia Farr - Wilma Kotcher
Charles Aidman Charles Aidman - Gerald Kotcher
Ellen Geer Ellen Geer - Vera Kotcher
Donald Kowalski Donald Kowalski - Duncan Kotcher
Dean Kowalski Dean Kowalski - Duncan Kotcher
Arlen Stuart Arlen Stuart - Mrs. Fisher
Jane Connell Jane Connell - Miss Roberts
James Brodhead James Brodhead - Mr. Weaver (as James E. Brodhead)
Jessica Rains Jessica Rains - Dr. McKernan
Darrell Larson Darrell Larson - Vincent Perrin
Biff Elliot Biff Elliot - Motel Manager
Paul Picerni Paul Picerni - Dr. Caudillo
Lucy Saroyan Lucy Saroyan - Sissy

Directorial debut for Jack Lemmon. Lemmon found direction duties both emotionally and physically draining and felt very uncomfortable behind the camera. This was his one and only film as a director.

Director Jack Lemmon's real life actress-wife Felicia Farr played Kotch's daughter-in-law Wilma Kotcher. This is the only time Farr was directed by her husband in a movie.

Walter Matthau was only 50 at the time of filming. The actor playing his son (Charles Aidman) was 45.

Producer Richard Carter originally asked Jack Lemmon to play Kotch in this movie. Lemmon instead wanted to direct this movie and let Walter Matthau play Kotch.

Larry Linville's film debut.

Walter Matthau received a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his role as Kotch in this movie. Matthau did not win, but a few years later Art Carney won a Best Actor Oscar for Harry and Tonto (1974), a similarly themed movie. Matthau and Carney would later appear together in House Calls (1978).

Kotch star Walter Matthau's real-life step-daughter actress Lucy Saroyan played a featured role (as Sissy) in this movie.

Ellen Geer playing Vera Kotcher, the late wife of Kotch (Walter Matthau), actually later played the director Jack Lemmon's ex-wife in Veider paar 2 (1998).

Walter Matthau was 7th at the US box office in 1971.

The meaning and relevance of this movie's Kotch (1971) title is that it refers to a nickname. Kotch is the known name of this picture's protagonist, Joseph P. Kotchner, played by Walter Matthau. The character is also known as Joe Kotcher.

Jack Lemmon: Uncredited as a sleeping bus passenger. Known for his acting though, Lemmon, apart from this cameo, does not star in this movie; he directs it.

User reviews



When this movie first came out I was in college and must have taken 4 or 5 different dates to see it. This movie was a mini cult phenomenon on campus, at least where I was, so I have always been surprised that it didn't get more publicity and acclaim. I saw it so many times because I felt it was a very worthwhile and meaningful film as a view into aging, the way we take care of elderly people, especially when it might be inconvenient for us. It was a good look into the feelings and hang-ups of people interacting among themselves: a retired man feeling increasingliy irrelevant in the environment he is compelled to live in, his spineless and uncomprehending son who doesn't offer much support at all, and his post-natal depressive daughter-in-law who can't understand why she has to put up with this codger who complicates her alreay-more-complicated life.

The movie also has a lot to say about the power of the human spirit to cope with change and make the best of things that aren't always going the way we always want them to.

I would like to see it again after 30+ years, but I can't find it at the usual rental stores. Having thought about it, though, I will continue to seek.


What a wonderful movie. For a change,Walter Matthau plays a sympathetic rather than a cantankerous character. He is just wonderful here in his Oscar nominated performance.

What makes the movie so good is that it doesn't really stress the attempt of his son and daughter-in-law to put him in a home and then show the misery of homes. Rather,it deals with the coming of life anew for Matthau when he takes a profound interest in the very pregnant babysitter for his grandson. What an interesting idea and it is so well developed.

Deborah Winters gives a fantastic supporting performance as the pregnant girl,orphaned, raised by an uncaring brother who finds meaning in her life when she aided by Kotch.

There is a totally winning song dealing with what you do with your life.

This film was definitely an under-rated gem. Too bad.


I had not seen Kotch for a long time before viewing my VHS copy today and I was really moved with how good it was. Too bad Jack Lemmon never wanted to try directing again. Maybe had the film won an Oscar or two, he could have been persuaded to try.

I think I finally figured out who Walter Matthau modeled his Oscar nominated performance on, it's Casey Stengel. Casey without the double-talk, but the same non-stop garrulousness that I remember from my youth.

But Casey had his captive audience of baseball writers and fans. Poor Joseph Kotcher is a retired salesman who lives with his son and his family. Though he's an excellent babysitter for his young grandson, he's generally underfoot according to his daughter-in-law Felicia Farr. Son Charles Aidman gently persuades him he ought to move into a retirement home.

But Matthau is just a lonely old man, looking for someone to bond with. He finds someone quite unlikely in the person of Deborah Winters, the new babysitter who finds herself pregnant by her boyfriend Darrell Larson. She moves in with him and not in a retirement home and they have some interesting experiences.

Matthau lost the Best Actor Award to Gene Hackman and Kotch similarly lost as Best Picture to The French Connection. Still I think this one has stood the test of time a lot better.

Marvin Hamlisch and Johnny Mercer wrote the song Life Is What You Make It for Kotch and it lost for Best Song to the Theme from Shaft. That one was truly unfortunate.

Kotch is a picture about the person who's your grandfather, old and a bit crotchety and some times a pain in the posterior as Deborah Winters says. But he's also the one with enough life experience to come through in the clutch.

Come to think of it, one of the things that drove Deborah crazy was his insistence on a car with an old fashioned clutch as opposed to automatic transmission.


Just watched Kotch, the only film Jack Lemmon directed with his pal Walter Matthau starring. Matthau plays Joseph Kotcher, a retired businessman who's staying with his son Gerald (Charles Aidman), daughter-in-law Wilma (Felicia Farr, who was Lemmon's real-life wife), and their baby son Duncan. Since both parents work and Joe isn't always responsible with his grandson (Wilma mentions Duncan getting some beer foam and pizza from his grandpop), they send him to a retirement home. This happens despite the babysitter they hired, Erica (Deborah Winters), being not so responsible herself since she has sex with her boyfriend in Kotcher's home with Joe as witness. Needless to say, Joe and Erica form an unlikely bond when she gets pregnant and he decides to go on the road instead of agreeing to the old folks home. I'll stop right there and say while I thought that the movie was going to be a little treacly with scenes of Matthau and the baby on the playground and the Marvin Hamlisch-Johnny Mercer song "Life is What You Make It" playing (which amazingly got an Oscar nomination), it got a little better with Joe's amusing tangents throughout the picture. Erica took a little more getting used to since her tangents were initially irritating but she calmed down eventually. I was worried for her, however, when she first rode in Kotch's creaky 1940s car especially since neither wore a seat belt when they were running fast! The funniest scene to me was when they stopped at a gas station and, as they were going to the ladies' restroom, the sign near the door said, "Ask Attendent for Key"! This happens as Erica's water broke and the attendants were very fixated on their motorcycle. Also appearing here are Larry Linville in his film debut as Erica's brother and guardian who provides some amusing moments a year before becoming Frank Burns on "M*A*S*H", and Ellen Geer, actor Will Geer's daughter, who plays Joe's late wife Vera in flashbacks in touching scenes. She was also Lemmon's ex-wife Frances on The Odd Couple II, and recently played Katherine Mayfair's aunt on "Desparate Housewives". Not a great dramedy, but Lemmon the director provides some nice touches that makes one keep watching for the little moments that Matthau provides in a role that got him a second Oscar nomination. Worth a look for fans of both.


Wonderfully unpredictable movie, with fine direction and acting and nice film score. Lemmon should direct more often. Viewer never knows what is going to happen next, although expectation Matthau may die or get killed. Great movie on aging, uplifting and superbly directed, acted and written. A real "10."


I first saw this back in the late '70's on TV. We loved it in the family, great fun, heart and performances. Matthau's intrepid, smart if slightly 'out There' Kotch is a unique character, well acted, and always someone we root for. It's not much different from the roles he would go onto play in the 90s, but...done by a younger man.

Sometimes the makeup and haircoloring doesn't quite look convincing, but that's okay too. The performance is put across as much by body language and posture as anything else.

The car is a great added touch-the knocking engine and etc a counterpoint to Kotch's own creaky body.

I liked Ellen Geer as the crabby daughter too-was surprised that she wound up in 'Phenomenon' and several other flix(Patriot Games) that I have seen before. Never made the connection.

It is dated sure, but that is inevitable with films. It's worth yer time.

*** outta **** Nice job by Lemmon, too.


Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau were one of cinema's most notable teams. They co-starred in a number of comedies over the years, always entertaining audiences. But there was also a time that Lemmon stepped behind the camera. The result was "Kotch", based on a book by Katharine Topkins. Matthau plays an elderly man in the LA area who feels useless in the changing world. His son and daughter-in-law consider him a nuisance, but he would rather not spend the rest of his life in a retirement home. But his life takes a new turn when he hooks up with a young pregnant woman.

We're used to seeing Matthau play curmudgeons, but here his character gets a new outlook on life. There's a scene towards the end that's a shocker (let's just say that Walter Matthau is the last person whom you'd picture doing that). All in all, a good movie. Not a masterpiece, but I still recommend it.
Billy Granson

Billy Granson

Jack Lemmon did an excellent job with this script and produced a very entertaining movie with an unforeseeable ending. Matthau is outstanding as usual and his fate keeps viewers in suspense until the end. I recommend it to young and old.


I watch this movie all the time I love it they don't make em' like this anymore. I like this movie mostly cause the music it's very comforting you can watch when your sad when your happy when your angry mostly it calms you down. I saw it first when I was 13 and I still watch not on a daily basis I dont even own it yet YET I'm going to bye it soon cause one of the only feel good movies I've ever seen. Thank you JACK LEMMON.


Bittersweet film directed by Jack Lemmon features real-life pal Walter Matthau as an unwanted old codger in Southern California who befriends an unmarried, pregnant teenager. The film makes points on several topics (retirement homes, married life in suburbia, the value of the elderly), yet it doesn't use this material to build momentum--and since the film isn't a satire, the humor (often condescending or sarcastic) comes off as smirking. Matthau does a very fine job--he even convinces us he's a baby lover!--but his relationship with the troubled girl fails to ring true (Matthau's pinched, icy daughter-in-law is a worse matter--she's a one-note caricature). At one point, Kotch goes on a road trip by bus and sends back lots of postcards to his son, but director Lemmon doesn't use this segment to bolster the plot (it's too sitcom-like and, with that silly music, plays like a geriatric "Midnight Cowboy" besides!). Lemmon is careful not to flood the movie with teary sentiment; he's generally gracious and attentive, and many of his details are wonderfully wry. The film is likable enough, but overall seems a bit fatigued. **1/2 from ****


I had doubts about this movie the moment it started. I recorded it because it was rated highly in the TV listings and starred Matthau, who I always like, but during the opening credits' bucolic scenes of Matthau playing with a little boy to the movie's unutterably treacly score (the sort of thing you heard in TV movies of the 70s) I thought, oh god, what am I in for? Matthau's windbag character also instantly turned me off. So I came here to see what people thought, and saw one glowing review after another. And that inspired me to watch another hour before giving up.

Besides the truly abysmal score, Kotch suffers from a surfeit of annoying characters. Kotch himself is genial but tedious, his son is bland and his daughter-in-law plays the requisite bitch. The girl he eventually helps is about as annoying as the title character.

I can't figure out why people like this movie so much. I think it's a movie for people who like comforters with teddy bears quilted into them or something. It's simple-minded and just plain dull.


I had never seen Kotch, but had always wanted to because of the presence of Walter Matthau and because of Jack Lemmon as director. It finally showed up on TCM the other night and, after years of waiting, I sadly have to agree with the lone previous viewer who found it wretched. I hate to be, once again, the turd in the punchbowl of hosannas here, but there are no characters in this movie, only cardboard cutouts. Matthau (who I love) is simply not credible here as a man who needs to be put away; his off-the-wall performance never makes us believe he is anywhere close to senile. The opening scene, with its aforementioned treacly 70's score, is predictive of the dreck to come. The movie is never played for human drama but only for cheap laughs, and those are few and far between. In the end I did what I rarely do, i.e. said to myself "why I am torturing myself," shut it off, and put on a good Laurel and Hardy movie.


I saw this movie when I was a teenager. From what I remember of it, it was a waste of good talent. Walter Matthau did his best acting and Jack Lemmon did his best directing. However, somehow the script just didn't do justice for either one of these two celebrities. I've seen Deborah Winters in other movies and back then it seemed as though she gravitated towards controversial roles such as a 16-year old drug addict or pregnant teenager. I absolutely hate that song "Life Is What You Make It," because they played it throughout this entire movie over and over again; and seeing the pregnant teenage Deborah Winters and hearing Walter Matthau's New York accent as this unusually compassionate older man somehow reminded me constantly of how much I absolutely hate deadbeat teen fathers. I always got the feeling throughout the film that I just wanted a scene in which the teen father of this girl's baby got the tar knocked out of him for being such a jerk. I vaguely recall one scene in which he actually spoke with Deborah Winters after he had gotten her pregnant, but he was more annoying than anything. The kind of teen father that would create a precedent in our court system to make justifiable patricide perfectly legal for all youngsters who have the indignity of having someone like him for a biological father. By the way, I disagree with the title of that stupid song, "Life Is What You Make It." I can't believe that song even won an award. It's crass and callous in its lyrics, because some people are born more privileged than others in the real world and the lyrics of that song just don't own up to that same reality of life. If you have nothing better to do with your time, you may want to give this movie a peek. However, if you have limited time like me, it's probably not worth watching.