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The Fortune Cookie (alternative UK title: Meet Whiplash Willie) is a 1966 black comedy film directed and produced by Billy Wilder and written by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in their first on-screen collaboration.


Plot

While taping a football game, cameraman Harry Hinkle (Jack Lemmon) ends up slightly injured after a collision with star player "Boom Boom" Jackson (Ron Rich). When Hinkle's scheming brother-in-law, lawyer Willie Gingrich (Walter Matthau), catches wind of the incident, he wants Hinkle to feign paralysis to scam the insurance company. Hinkle agrees to the plan, if only to win back his ex (Judi West). But Hinkle's growing friendship with a guilt-ridden Jackson has him questioning the ploy.

Cast

  • Jack Lemmon as Harry Hinkle
  • Walter Matthau as William H. "Whiplash Willie" Gingrich
  • Ron Rich as Luther "Boom Boom" Jackson
  • Judi West as Sandy Hinkle
  • Cliff Osmond as Chester Purkey
  • Lurene Tuttle as Hinkle's mother
  • Harry Holcombe as O'Brien
  • Les Tremayne as Thompson
  • Lauren Gilbert as Kincaid
  • Marge Redmond as Charlotte Gingrich
  • Noam Pitlik as Max
  • Keith Jackson TV Sportscaster
  • Harry Davis as Dr. Krugman
  • Ann Shoemaker as Sister Veronica
  • Maryesther Denver as Nurse
  • Ned Glass as Doc Schindler
  • Sig Ruman as Professor Winterhalter
  • Archie Moore as Mr. Jackson
  • Howard McNear as Mr. Cimoli
  • William Christopher as Intern (credited as Bill Christopher)

Reception

Critical response

Vincent Canby of the New York Times called the film, "a fine, dark gag-filled hallucination"

Variety found the film "generally amusing (often wildly so), but overlong"

The Hollywood Reporter asserted that the film was "Billy Wilder's best picture since The Apartment, his funniest since Some Like It Hot.

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