"The Fortune Cookie" Is Released
The Fortune Cookie (alternative UK title: Meet Whiplash Willie) is a 1966 film starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in their first on screen collaboration, and directed by Billy Wilder.
CBS cameraman Henry Hinkle (Jack Lemmon) gets injured when football player Luther "Boom Boom" Jackson (Ron Rich) runs into him while he is covering a Browns game at Cleveland Stadium. Hinkle is visited in the hospital by his conniving lawyer brother-in-law "Whiplash Willie" Gingrich (Walter Matthau), who convinces him to pretend that his legs have been paralyzed. This way, they can receive a huge indemnity from the insurance company. Of course, the insurance company suspects that the paralysis is a fake one, and so a cat-and-mouse game begins. Jackson turns out to be a nice guy. He takes very good care of Hinkle, who begins having second thoughts as he witnesses guilt taking its toll on Jackson.
The British title of Billy Wilder's classic comedy was Meet Whiplash Willie -- for, despite Jack Lemmon's star billing, the movie's driving force is Oscar-winning Walter Matthau as gloriously underhanded lawyer "Whiplash" Willie Gingrich. CBS cameraman Harry Hinkle (Lemmon) is injured when he is accidentally bulldozed by football player Luther "Boom Boom" Jackson (Ron Rich) during a Cleveland Browns game. Willie, Harry's brother-in-law, foresees an insurance-settlement bonanza, and he convinces Harry to pretend to be incapacitated by the accident. To insure his client's cooperation, Willie arranges for Harry's covetous ex-wife Sandy (Judi West) to feign a rekindling of their romance. Harry's conscience is plagued by the solicitous behavior of Boom Boom, who is so devastated at causing Harry's injury that he insists on waiting on the "cripple" hand and foot. Meanwhile, dishevelled private eye Purkey (Cliff Osmond) keeps Harry under constant surveillance, hoping to catch him moving around so the insurance company can avoid shelling out a fortune. Wilder and usual co-writer I.A.L. Diamond were at their most jaundiced and cynical here, even if, after a sardonic semiclimax, the last ten minutes succumb to the sentimentality that often marred Wilder's later movies. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide