The Fortune Cookie

The Fortune Cookie

DVD - 2001
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After a TV cameraman is tackled by a football player at a game, a shyster lawyer convinces the uninjured victim to sue "everybody."
Audience: OFRB rating: PG.
Publisher: Santa Monica : Metro Goldwyn Mayer Home Entertainment, [2001]
Copyright Date: ℗2001
ISBN: 9780792849162
Branch Call Number: DVD FIC Fortu
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (126 min.) : digital, sound, black and white ; 12 cm.
Language Note: Closed captioned for the hearing impaired.
In English dubbed in French with French and Spanish subtitles.
Closed captionned for the hearing impaired.


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Dec 14, 2014

When TV cameraman Harry Hinkle is accidentally tackled while filming a football game his shyster brother-in-law Willie, a two-bit ambulance chasing lawyer, tries to talk him into feigning partial paralysis so that he can launch a million dollar personal injury lawsuit. At first reluctant to take part in the fraudulent scheme, the habitually honest Harry eventually agrees after Willie convinces him that playing the sympathy card may very well get him reunited with his ex-wife, a failed nightclub singer for whom he still carries a torch. But with a battery of insurance lawyers out for his blood, a private detective with a nose for fraud filming his every move, and the prospect of being confined to a wheelchair for months while he “recuperates” all weighing on his mind, not to mention his own guilty conscience, will Harry be able to keep up appearances or will the prophetic message in his lunchtime fortune cookie, “You Can’t Fool All of the People All of the Time” prove to be all too true? Billy Wilder’s cynical comedy certainly throws a few well aimed punches at America’s corporate mentality as crooked lawyer, conniving ex, and soulless agency types go at each other like dogs fighting over a crippled bone. Meanwhile Harry’s own moral compromise, emphasized by his mother’s theatrical wailing and the remorseful eyes of the quarterback who ran into him, sets him up as a bewildered cog in a machine more heartless than he could have imagined. There’s even a few weak attempts at addressing issues of racism and racial stereotyping that probably carried more weight back in 1966. But for all that the film is just too bland and predictable and not very funny at all. Stars Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon do their usual mugging and verbal sparring while Wilder keeps the pace going, but the film’s moralistic message seems hopelessly naive today (alas) and its tidy little ending just a bit too trite.

Yes. The Fortune Cookie (from 1966) may have been noticeably overlong at 2 hours and 6 minutes, but, for the most part, it was a surprisingly engaging, little comedy that was clearly power-driven by Walter Matthau's over-bearing, dry-witted performance as the cynical, All-American, shyster-lawyer, Willie "Whiplash" Gingrich._____ When Willie's brother-in-law, Harry Hinkel (cameraman for CBS), is accidentally knocked over a barricade by the 220 lb. half-back, Boom-Boom Jackson and rendered unconscious during an action-packed football game at Cleveland Stadium, Willie cries "Foul Play!"_____ Without missing a beat, Willie cleverly convinces the reluctant Harry to feign a crippling spinal injury following his collision with Boom-Boom. And together these 2 greedy charlatans make big plans to split a cool million in phony insurance claims. But, as the ominous message in the fortune cookie reads - "You can't fool all of the people all of the time." - The writing is clearly on the wall for this "fool-proof" scam._____ Filmed in stark b&w, this comedy was directed by Billy Wilder whose other notable films include Some Like It Hot and Sunset Boulevard.


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