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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Pairing.
This film was the very first screen pairing of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Along with 'The Odd Couple', I would say this is the best.
It was directed by Billy Wilder, who by this time had already made some memorable movies with Jack Lemmon. 'Some Like It Hot' and 'The Apartment' to name just two of them.
The basic story is:
Jack Lemmon is this cameraman...
Published on May 28 2004 by Mark Steven Fisk

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars An Enjoyable Look into Greed
Many people have pondered why this movie falls into the comedy genre of film . . . when in fact that it is a comedy. Their is a definite chemistry between Lemmon and Mathau (arguably not as strong as in their later films) that makes the entire movie run smoothly. My only complaint is that the movie does seem to drag a bit in the later stages of the film.
I...
Published on Oct. 1 2000 by Daniel R. Sanderman


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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Pairing., May 28 2004
By 
This review is from: Fortune Cookie (DVD)
This film was the very first screen pairing of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Along with 'The Odd Couple', I would say this is the best.
It was directed by Billy Wilder, who by this time had already made some memorable movies with Jack Lemmon. 'Some Like It Hot' and 'The Apartment' to name just two of them.
The basic story is:
Jack Lemmon is this cameraman who gets injured while he is filming an American football game. Walter Matthau plays his brother-in-law, who happens to be a lawyer. Matthau tries to convince Lemmon to make out that his injury is worse than it really is, since Matthau decides they should sue the insurance company and make a load of money out of it. Lemmon goes along with it, while the football player, 'Boom Boom' Jackson (played by Ron Rich), who was the person who partly injured Lemmon in the first place, becomes his friend and helps look after him. Lemmon's ex-wife comes back and decides to take over Jacksons job of looking after him. Is she there for the money, or because she really cares? 'Boom Boom' kinda loses it from there and gets into trouble as his career fades. So, watch it to see how it all turns out.
Overall, I think this movie is brilliant, although I do have one problem with it. That is with Judi West who played Lemmons ex-wife. I believe (May be wrong) that this was her screen-debut. I really think she is the only person in the movie who lets it down slightly due to her acting.
A quick mention about the DVD. The print used here is very good. However, it lacks any decent extras.
I recommend this movie very highly. Especially if you are a fan of Jack Lemmon.
PLEASE NOTE: I am the owner of the UK Region 2 release of this DVD from the same company, so the discs, besides the region coding, should be the same.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Whoa Nelly!, May 5 2004
This review is from: Fortune Cookie (DVD)
Andre Previn's music sets the scene for Billy Wilder's black-and-white world. From slinky jazz to raucous Central European classical, Previn captures the cynical and the sentimental in the sly director's unmistakable touch.
Jack Lemmon captures it too. All-American with a nervous twitch-- I mean, twist-- Lemmon is a good guy, a normal guy, with a mad streak. In this case, he wants his wife back-- wants her bad.
Walter Matthau-- "Whiplash Willie"-- exploits his brother-in-law's unrequited love by bringing a lawsuit (for one-million dollars) against the Cleveland Browns, CBS, and Municipal Stadium. If you know the rest, I need not repeat; if you don't-- that is, if you haven't seen the movie--I won't give it away.
But you might want to know a few things.
Hapless Harry Hinkle (Lemmon) is a camera-man for CBS, at a Browns game, and punt-returner Boom Boom Jackson (Ron Rich) runs into him. Fans of football (though college instead of pro) will be happy to recognize a younger version of the great-- the legendary-- Keith Jackson (of ABC).
So, with his big sad eyes, Hinkle wants his wife back. There's something sentimental in here about love, about how much we need it. But brother-in-law Willie is all cynicism-- delicious, laugh-out-loud cynicism.
There are a few uncomfortable moments-- for me anyway-- regarding the treatment of Ron Rich's character. He does a lot of smiling, cooking, cleaning, encouraging, making up of beds, and (not to spoil the plot), drinking, punching, and so forth.
But the punch-line-- yes, the punch-line-- of the movie rests on a very progressive, an enlightened, handling of race matters, and really, it would be unfair to say Boom Boom Jackson is a stereotype of an African-American athlete. Two of the equipment guys say he's the last guy they'd expect to get in a fight after having too many drinks.
It seems Billy Wilder never wants us to get too comfortable as we're watching his pictures. Beware of thinking too deeply about these things, but this movie-- one of his very best-- has an edge to it that makes you say "pure genius." Jack Lemmon in his wheelchair whirring about the room to "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To"-- you feel like crying even as you're laughing. Well, I do at any rate.
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3.0 out of 5 stars An Enjoyable Look into Greed, Oct. 1 2000
By 
Daniel R. Sanderman (Portland, OR United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fortune Cookie [Import] (VHS Tape)
Many people have pondered why this movie falls into the comedy genre of film . . . when in fact that it is a comedy. Their is a definite chemistry between Lemmon and Mathau (arguably not as strong as in their later films) that makes the entire movie run smoothly. My only complaint is that the movie does seem to drag a bit in the later stages of the film.
I personally found the "handicapped" antics of Lemmon to be quite entertaining - especially the high speed wheelchair action of someone who is obviously not handicapped. Additionally, the change of character displayed whenever his wife is tenderly mentioned is classic and real.
Mathau, although perhaps not Oscar material, plays the blood-sucking lawyer better than perhaps any performance I can think of. His usual grumpy, greedy self is perfectly kept intact in this role. In fact, his performance is so good that it makes you wonder if it is an act at all. And judging from Mathau's other films, I don't think it is.
As far as greed is concerned, there are two types of characters in the film. Those after money and those who are honest. And the ones who are honest are the happy characters and the characters who turn out all right in the end. It perfectly follows the format of films made during this era - good moral lessons.
All in all, Fortune Cookie is a delightful film that will entertain you. Watch it if you enjoy the chemistry between these two wonderful actors.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful CYNICAL comedy, Jan. 19 2000
By 
Richard (Laguna Niguel, California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fortune Cookie [Import] (VHS Tape)
Jack Lemmon is a TV camerman. During a pro-football telecast, he is hit along the sidelines by an out-of-bounds player and immediately taken to the hospital with possible injuries. Enter his crooked lawyer brother-in-law, Willy Gingrich (Walter Mathau). This lawyer convinces Lemmon to fake a back injury in order to collect BIG bucks from the insurance company. The movie title refers to a message in a fortune cookie (You can fool all the people some of the time......).
Although not at the level of "Some Like It Hot", this is one of Billy Wilder's best comedies. His view of humanity is certainly cynical and bleak, but not nihilistic. The best performance is by Mathau who plays Willy to the hilt. He's wonderful and deserved his Oscar. The music by Andre Previn is also very good and very sly. You won't be disappointed. Bring on the DVD!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four stars for content, but........, April 15 2002
By 
Marc T. Smith (Dayton, Ohio United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fortune Cookie (DVD)
"The Fortune Cookie" has long been one of my favorite Billy Wilder movies, and I was pleased to see it's release on DVD, especially in the original widescreen format. While the movie and performances are great (especially Walter Matthau in his Oscar-winning turn), and the script by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond hits the target, I was very disappointed in the lackluster transfer to disc that this unqualified classic received. Sure, the letterboxing is great, but halfway through the film, the sound quality takes a turn for the worse - less audible, and almost scratchy at times. Plus, the only "extra" is the original trailer, and there is no additional booklet. Surely a genius like Wilder deserves better preservation than this!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Laying Out The Chemistry, May 21 2000
By 
charles pope (cpope2@prodigy.net) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fortune Cookie [Import] (VHS Tape)
Walter Mattahu was playing mostly ":heavys" in films for about ten years until "The Fortune Cookie" He wins an Oscar for role and "this is not one of his better roles"?
From this point ..on in his career ..how many more "heavys" did he play? The great team of I.A.L. Diamond and Wilder are at work here and its fun all the way.Cliff Osmond is a standout.
A real glimpse of Old Cleveland Municiple stadium and a younger Keith Jackson are a bonus for sports fans.What ever happened to Judy West, who plays Lemmon,s ex ( running of with Gus Gilroy)?
Watch quickly for the great Sig Rumann as a doctor ( Fake"! )
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4.0 out of 5 stars Walter Mathau's Oscar-Winner, Feb. 27 2003
By 
Michael Mathena "Michael Mathena" (Valley City, Ohio) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fortune Cookie (DVD)
This Billy Wilder creation is the first film in which Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau were teamed. Matthau as a less than ethical lawyer is in constant persuit of justice and settlements for his brother-in-law (Lemmon) who got hurt on the job. Matthau won Best Actor Oscar. The Matthau/Lemmon chemistry was so smashing that the two teamed up six more times....
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Weak Wilder Comedy, Sept. 3 2000
By 
Alex Udvary (chicago, il United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fortune Cookie [Import] (VHS Tape)
How exactly this film is billed as a comedy is beyond me. I can't remember laughing at this movie. I guess it's a comedy-of manners, but really lacks wit. I'm suprised to even say that this is a Billy Wilder film. How could the man who made such classics as "Sunset Boulevard", "Some Like It Hot" , and "Double Indemnity" have actually made this movie! A very weak and unfunny screenplay by I.A.L Diamond and Wilder himself. If it weren't for the fact that there are two star performances by Lemmon and Matthau, and fine supporting players like Judi West and Ron Rich, I might consider giving this one star. The story goes something like this, Harry Hinkle (Lemmon) is a camera man who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, see he collides with football star Luther "Boom Boom" Jackson (Rich). Hinkle's brother-in-law, Willie Gingrich (Matthau) seeks the perfect opportunity to try and pull off a insurance scam. Hinkle of course at first is totally against the whole idea. But when he's ex-wife calls, Sandy (West), to check if her ex is ok, Harry starts to think, maybe he could win his wife back. All of this seems like a pretty good idea. You would think that perhaps some laughs could come out of this. But Wilder and Diamond have something else up their sleeve. They both completely avoided the comedy and seemed to try to give the movie more "heart". It seems like they wanted to make a drama more than a comedy. Which is fine with me. Only I was expecting a comedy. The story really seems to drag, why Wilder felt the movie had to be a little over two hours long I'll never understand. He could of made the same bad movie in 90 minutes. The movie was nominated for 4 Oscars, why I don't know. And was awarded only one, which went to Matthau, for best supporting actor. One of Wilder's weeker films, and one everyone should stay away from. ** 1\2 out of *****
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a comedy, Jan. 15 2000
By 
Jennifer B. Barton "Beth Barton" (McKinney, Tx) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fortune Cookie [Import] (VHS Tape)
I was very disappointed in this film. Although listed as a comedy, The Fortune Cookie lacks not only any comedic elements but, in my opinion, also the trademark Lemmon/Matthau chemistry. Matthau plays a shyster lawyer who convinces Lemmon, his brother-in-law, to go along with an insurance scam after an accident. Go into this expecting a drama, not a comedy, and you may like it. Still, as a drama, there was a lot of missed potential in the developing of subplots. Matthau won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this role, so I may just be missing some deeper philosophical angle ... but I was expecting a comedy. You know, the kind where you laugh?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not really a comedy, not romantic, however this is a classic., Sept. 9 2010
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fortune Cookie (DVD)
A football player Luther 'Boom Boom' Jackson (Ron Rich) accidentally knocks down Harry Hinkle (Jack Lemmon) a television camera operator. Learning of Harry's childhood injury brother-in-law Willie Gingrich (Walter Matthau) a lawyer sees an opportunity and seizes that opportunity. Willie with the assistance of Hinkle's ex-wife Sandy Hinkle (Judi West) railroads him into faking an injury.

Will Harry succumb to their will?
Will Luther 'Boom Boom' Jackson ever play again?
Will Willie and Sandy realize the fruits of their efforts?

This movie is not so much of a comedy as it is an interaction between people and ideals. We as observers are taken along for the ride. However, you may find yourselves kibitzing occasionally.

The movie is worth watching at least once. Everyone does a fine job of acting. You will feel like you are back in 1966 and waiting for the big game. You will not be disappointed.
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Fortune Cookie
Fortune Cookie by Billy Wilder (DVD - 2003)
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