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Opening and closing cast credits differ slightly in order. During several brief flashbacks, "Kotch" reminisces about life with his wife "Vera." An onscreen acknowledgment thanks the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital and their staff. Although the onscreen credits state that ABC Pictures Corp. is the film's copyright claimant, the picture was not included in copyright records. According to company production notes, Richard Carter, Jack Lemmon's longtime public relations representative and the publicity and advertising director of Lemmon's company Jalem, optioned the film rights to Katharine Topkin's novel, Kotch, and partnered with John Paxton, who spent several months writing the screenplay. According to production notes, Carter showed the script to Lemmon, who became interested in directing it.
A May 30, 1972 Variety news item reported that the project began as a co-venture between Jalem, Carter and Paxton's Brier Productions and National General Pictures (NGP). Although Filmfacts stated that interiors were shot at the Samuel Goldwyn Studios, a August 13, 1969 Variety news item reported that the production moved from the Goldwyn lot to return to the CBS Studio Center when negotiations with NGP broke down. The May 1972 Variety news item explained that when negotiations with NGP broke down in mid-1969, Jalem and Brier unsuccessfully petitioned for financial support from the Canadian Film Development Corp. before going with ABC in 1970. According to a March 22, 1971 Daily Variety column, Lemmon felt that the team was having trouble getting backing because the script was considered too "soft for the market" until after the success of the 1970 Paramount film Love Story (see below).
A modern source stated that Fredric March and Laurence Olivier were considered for the lead, but each turned down the role due to illness. According to the film's production notes, Carter and Lemmon sent the script to Walter Matthau, who was then in his early fifties. Actress Felicia Farr, who played "Wilma," was married to Lemmon from 1962 until his death in 2001. Deborah Winters is the daughter of film editor Ralph Winters and actress Penny Edwards. Lucy Saroyan, who played "Sissy," was Matthau's stepdaughter and the daughter of author William Saroyan. Twins Donald and Dean Kowalski played toddler "Duncan Kotcher." Although their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed, according to Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety news items, others appearing in the cast are Lemmon's five-year-old daughter Courtney, Matthau's eight-year-old son Charlie, and Carol Bagdasarian, the daughter of composer Ross Bagdasarian. As noted in Filmfacts and other sources, Lemmon appears in a cameo, disguised with a moustache and glasses in the finale of Kotch.
A February 5, 1971 Hollywood Reporter news item added six actors to the cast: Chester Conklin, Carter De Haven, Babe London, Dot Farley, Edgar Dearing and Lilian Jenks. The actors, who were former silent and early sound film performers, were to portray senior citizens in the retirement home sequence that was filmed at the Motion Picture Country House and Hospital in Woodlands Hills, CA, where they resided. Their appearance in the film has not been confirmed. The onscreen credits of Henry L. Jaffe M.D. and Phyllis Coffey, who were listed with the production team, were not discernable on the viewed print. Portions of the film were shot in Palm Springs, according to Hollywood Reporter production charts, and also, according to a December 21, 1970 Box Office news item, at Pacific Palisades, Glendale and Newhall in Southern California.
Kotch marked Lemmon's only directorial effort and was Richard Carter's only film as producer. The film was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor (Matthau), Best Film Editing (Ralph E. Winters), Best Sound (Richard Portman and Jack Solomon) and Best Song (Marvin Hamlisch and Johnny Mercer, "Life Is What You Make It"). The Screen Actors Guild named Kotch the Best American Comedy Adapted from Another Medium.