) is a 1966black comedyfilm starringJack LemmonandWalter Matthauin their first on-screen collaboration. It was produced and directed byBilly Wilderfrom a script by Wilder andI.A.L. Diamond.
CBScameraman Harry Hinkle (Jack Lemmon) is injured when football player Luther Boom Boom Jackson (Ron Rich) of theCleveland Brownsruns into him during a home game atMunicipal Stadium. Harrys injuries are minor, but his conniving lawyer brother-in-law William H. Whiplash Willie Gingrich (Walter Matthau) convinces him to pretend that his leg and hand have been partially paralyzed, so they can receive a hugeindemnityfrom the insurance company.3Harry reluctantly goes along with the scheme because he is still in love with his ex-wife, Sandy (Judi West), and being injured might bring her back.
The insurance companys lawyers at OBrien, Thompson and Kincaid (Harry Holcombe,Les Tremayne, and Lauren Gilbert) suspect that the paralysis is a fake. All but one of their medical experts say that it is real, convinced by the remnants of a compressed vertebra Hinkle suffered as a child, and Hinkles responses, helped by the numbing shots ofnovocaineGingrich has had a paroled dentist (Ned Glass) give him. The one holdout, Swiss Professor Winterhalter (Sig Ruman), is convinced that Hinkle is a fake.
With no medical evidence to base their case on, OBrien, Thompson and Kincaid hireClevelands best private detective, Chester Purkey (Cliff Osmond), to keep Hinkle under constant surveillance. However, Gingrich sees Purkey entering the apartment building across the street and lets Hinkle know they are being watched and recorded and after Sandy returns, warns him not to indulge in any hanky panky with her. He proceeds to feed misinformation to Purkey; he incorporates the Harry Hinkle Foundation, a non-profit charity to which all the proceeds of any settlement are to go, above and beyond the medical expenses. When Sandy questions Gingrich about this in private, he tells her that it is just a scam to put pressure on the insurance company to settle, and that there will be enough money in the settlement for everyone.
Hinkle begins to enjoy having Sandy back again, but he feels bad when he sees that Boom-Boom is so guilt-ridden, his performance on the field suffers; he is booed by the fans and then grounded by the team for getting drunk and involved in a bar fight. Hinkle wants Gingrich to represent Boom-Boom, but to Hinkles displeasure, Gingrich says he is too busy negotiating with OBrien, Thompson & Kincaid. Hinkle also finds out that Sandy has returned to him strictly out of greed.
Hinkle obtains a $200,000 settlement check. However, Purkey has a plan to expose the scam. He shows up at the apartment to collect his hidden microphones. He begins to make racist remarks about Boom-Boom and our black brothers getting out of hand. Hinkle, incensed, jumps up out his wheelchair and decks Purkey, but Purkeys assistant Max (Noam Pitlik) is not sure he recorded it on film because Its a little dark. Hinkle asks Purkey if he would like a second take, turns on a light and advises the cameraman how to set his exposure. He then punches Purkey again, and follows up by swinging from curtain rods and bouncing on the bed. Sandy is crawling on the floor looking for her lost contact lens, and just before he leaves the apartment, Hinkle roughly pushes her down to the ground with his foot. Gingrich claims he no idea that his client was deceiving him, and announces his intention to sue the insurance company lawyers for invasion of privacy and report Purkeys racist remarks to various organizations.
Hinkle drives to the stadium, where he finds Boom-Boom ready to leave the team and perhaps become a wrestler named The Dark Angel. Hinkle manages to snap Boom-Boom out of his funk, and the two run down the fields passing and lateraling a football back and forth between them.
This was the first film to feature the movie partnership ofJack LemmonandWalter Matthau, who were to appear together in ten films:
†Matthau stars in this film directed by Lemmon; Lemmon appears only in a very brief silent cameo.
‡Lemmon and Matthau play supporting roles in this film.
Matthau and Lemmon also both had roles inJFKbut shared no scenes together.
Jack Lemmon originally had two other actors proposed to star with him Frank SinatraandJackie Gleason but Lemmon insisted that he do the picture with Walter Matthau. Production on the film was halted for weeks after Walter Matthau had a heart attack. By the time Matthau was healthy enough to work, and filming started up again, he had slimmed down from 190 to 160 pounds, and had to wear a heavy black coat and padded clothing to conceal the weight loss.4
Scenes were filmed during theCleveland Browns2717 loss to theMinnesota VikingsatCleveland Stadiumon the afternoon ofOctober 31, 1965. Saint Marks Hospital in the film is the newly completed St. Vincent Charity Hospital, a curved building considered ultramodern at that time. An exterior scene was filmed on East 24th Street outside an older section of the hospital.Terminal Towerserved as the exterior of the law firm. In one scene, one can seeErieview Towerand the steel skeleton of theAnthony J. Celebrezze Federal Buildingunder construction.
Vincent Canbyof the New York Times called the film, a fine, dark gag-filled hallucination5
Varietyfound the film generally amusing (often wildly so), but overlong6
The Hollywood Reporterasserted that The Fortune Cookie was Billy Wilders best picture sinceThe Apartment, his funniest sinceSome Like it Hot.7
The Fortune Cookiegrossed $6,000,000 at the North American box office,8making it the24th highest-grossing film of 1966. The film earned $6.8 million worldwide.2
Walter Matthau won the 1966OscarforBest Supporting Actorfor this film. The film also received Oscar nominations forArt Direction-Set Decoration (Black-and-White)Robert LuthardtEdward G. Boyle),Best Cinematography (Black-and-White), andBest Writing, Story and Screenplay. Walter Matthau was also nominated for aGolden GlobeforBest Motion Picture Actor Musical/Comedy.9
Gingrich initially sues the Cleveland Browns, CBS andMunicipal Stadiumfor $1 million; the settlement is $200,000, equivalent to $1,540,000in 2018. In the script Gingrich calls this the largest personal injury settlement in Ohio to that time.
Stowe, Madelaine (June 25, 2016) Outro to theTurner Classic Moviespresentation of the film
The Fortune Cookie, Funny Fantasy of Chiselers, Begins Its Run.
Staff, Variety (1 January 1966).The Fortune Cookie
The Fortune Cookie, Box Office Information. The Numbers
Canby, Vincent(October 20, 1966)Screen: The Fortune Cookie, Funny Fantasy of Chiselers, Begins Its Run:3 Manhattan Theaters Have Wilders Film Walter Matthau Stars As Farcical Villain A Western and a Horror Film Also Open Here
League:National Football League(1950present)
League:All-America Football Conference(19461949)
Films featuring a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award-winning performance
This page was last edited on 22 April 2019, at 23:55