Academy Awards 1966 -
Best Supporting Actor: Walter Matthau
USA Today - 03/16/2001
"The screen's definitive portrayal of an ambulance-chasing lawyer is by Walter Matthau in Billy Wilder's THE FORTUNE COOKIE. It may also be the largest role to win a supporting-actor Oscar..."
Starring the legendary duo of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, Wilder's characteristically cynical comedy again explores the corrupting influence of money. When TV-cameraman Harry Hinkle (Lemmon) is slightly injured while covering a football game, Willie Gingrich (Matthau), his ambulance-chasing attorney of a brother-in-law sees the opportunity for a major score. Persuading Lemmon to exaggerate the extent of the damage, Matthau sues the football team, the network and the stadium for a fortune. Meanwhile Boom Boom Jackson (Ron Rich) the good-natured player who ran over Lemmon, guiltily suspends his career to care for his "victim," and Matthau calls in Lemmon's ex-wife (Judy West) whose compassion seems to be stimulated by the sound of money. But the deception begins to wear on Lemmon, who becomes ever more disgusted with himself for exploiting the innocent player, and with the blatant venality of his ex. Matthau however, has no intention of seeing his percentage of a potentially huge settlement go up in smoke. Although Lemmon give a finely-modulated performance as a reluctant scam-artist, Matthau's lawyer, a Volpone-like monster of avarice, has the best lines in a hilarious film that suggest a slight mellowing in the director's perspective on human nature.