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The Fortune Cookie
The first time that Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau graced the screen together, they made one of the best football movies in the history of the cinema.
Lemmon plays Harry, a CBS cameraman who covers football for the network. During a Cleveland Browns game, he gets a little too close to the action, gets run over by a star player and finds himself in the hospital. While he is unconscious, his brother-in-law Whiplash Willie (Walter Matthau) sets his plan into action.
Willie is an ambulance chaser who sees gold at the end of the rainbow. He decides that Harry needs to sue. However, he wants more than just the medical expenses. Willie decides to sue the NFL, the Cleveland Browns, CBS and Municipal Stadium for $1 Million.
When Harry comes out of it, he isn't badly hurt, but Willie convinces him to play along to get the money and, maybe, his ex-wife back.
Can Harry go through with it? Will they win $1 Million?
Lemmon was the big star at the time, but the film belongs to Matthau. He lights up the screen with his rascality and bombasity. Matthau embodies the very worst in an ambulance chaser, but the very best you would want in your lawyer. He is willing to lie, bluff and fight for his client in any way necessary. In the end, his performance was rewarded with an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Ron Rich as Boom Boom, the football player who thinks he has severely injured Harry, gives a less heralded, but similarly entertaining performance. Rich plays one of the nicest guys in the history of the NFL, a stark contrast to some of his contemporaries such as Jim Brown, Mike Ditka or Dick Butkus. Rich fills the character with kindness.
Watch for the legendary football announcer Keith Jackson at the beginning of the film as the CBS announcer, boxing great Archie Moore as Boom Boom's dad and William "MASH's Father Mulcahey" Christopher as a young Doctor.
If you're in the mood for fun this weekend, check out The Fortune Cookie.
Directed by Billy Wilder
Written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond
Jack Lemmon .. . Harry Hinkle
Walter Matthau Willie Gingrich
Ron Rich .. Luther "Boom Boom" Jackson
Judi West .. Sandy Hinkle
Cliff Osmond .. .. Purkey
Lurene Tuttle Mother Hinkle
Harry Holcombe .. . O'Brien
Les Tremayne .. . Thompson
Lauren Gilbert . . Kincaid
Marge Redmond .. . Charlotte Gingrich
Noam Pitlik .. . Max
Harry Davis .. Dr. Krugman
Ann Shoemaker .. .. Sister Veronica
Archie Moore .. Mr. Jackson
William "Father Mulcahey" Christopher .. Young Doctor
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