Review: ‘The Fortune Cookie’

Producer-director-writer Billy Wilder presents in The Fortune Cookie another bittersweet comedy commentary on contemporary US mores. Generally amusing (often wildly so) but overlong, the pic is pegged on an insurance fraud in which Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are the conspirators.

Producer-director-writer Billy Wilder presents in The Fortune Cookie another bittersweet comedy commentary on contemporary US mores. Generally amusing (often wildly so) but overlong, the pic is pegged on an insurance fraud in which Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau are the conspirators.

Original screenplay is by Wilder, paired for seventh time with I.A.L. Diamond. Plot turns on the complications following TV cameraman Lemmon’s accidental injury at the hands of grid star Ron Rich. Matthau, shyster lawyer and Lemmon’s brother-in-law, sees fancy damages in the injury, and exwife Judi West smells money in a fake reunion with Lemmon.

Lemmon, confined perforce to sickroom immobility (bandages, wheelchair, etc) is saddled most of the time with the colorless image of a man vacillating with his conscience over the fraud, and its effect on Rich, whose playing has deteriorated from remorse.

Title derives from a scene where Lemmon breaks a fortune cookie, only to find inside Abraham Lincoln’s famous aphorism about fooling all/some people all/some of the time.

1966: Best Supp. Actor (Walter Matthau).

Nominations: Best Original Story & Screenplay, B&W Cinematography, B&W Art Direction

The Fortune Cookie

Production

United Artists/Mirisch. Director Billy Wilder; Producer Billy Wilder; Screenplay Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond; Camera Joseph LaShelle; Editor Daniel Mandell; Music Andre Previn; Art Director Robert Luthardt

Crew

(B&W) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1966. Running time: 125 MIN.

With

Jack Lemmon Walter Matthau Ron Rich Cliff Osmond Judi West Lurene Tuttle
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