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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Fortune Cookie (1966)

(aka: Meet Whiplash Willie)



Reviews and Comments

1968's The Odd Couple was the most famous pairing of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, who made eight films together over the course of their careers. But The Fortune Cookie was their first, and it's almost as good. As would become characteristic of Lemmon and Matthau's on-screen chemistry, their characters here like each other but somehow always find themselves at odds. There is bickering, there are hurt feelings and petty revenge -- yet none of it is abrasive; in fact it's quite funny, because we sympathize with them in spite of their flaws, for we know these men are just ordinary people that are just trying to make the best of things.

Which is not to say that The Fortune Cookie isn't blunt and cynical. Director Billy Wilder once again takes a perceptive look at the sides of human nature most prone to temptation and seduction and skews it with his delightfully wicked sense of humor. The story is about a guy that persuades his brother-in-law to fake an injury in order to win a lawsuit -- curiously, this film may be more relevant now than it was the day it was made.