Kotch is a great film in several ways: Jack Lemmon’s outstanding directorial debut; Walter Matthau’s terrific performance as an unwanted elderly parent who befriends a pregnant teenager; John Paxton’s superior adaptation of Katharine Topkins’ novel and a topnotch supporting cast. This heart-warming, human comedy will leave audiences fully nourished, whereas they should be left a bit starved for more.
Paxton’s script fully develops many interactions between Matthau and the other players. There’s Charles Aidman, smash as his loving son, slightly embarrassed at Dad’s apparent dotage; Felicia Farr, Aidman’s wife who wants Pop out of the house; and Deborah Winters, as the couple’s baby-sitter made pregnant by Darrell Larson, then shipped off in disgrace by her brother.
The film’s somewhat too leisurely pace often sacrifices primary plot movement to brilliantly-filmed digression-vignette. Basically the story has Matthau and Winters sharing a desert house together. She learns a lot about life from him, and he has the opportunity to act as a loving father and friend.
1971: Nominations: Best Actor (Walter Matthau), Editing, Song (‘Life Is What You Make It’), Sound