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Fortune Cookie (Special Edition), The
This is just a plain fun time at the movies. Sure, it's about the lengths that immoral people are willing to go in search of easy riches, a Billy Wilder staple, but one can't help but wonder if the overall reason for The Fortune Cookie's existence is to give as much space for Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau to flex their natural opposites attract chemistry.
As usual with films with this duo, Lemmon is the meek and moral everyman, at least the decent everyman the audience should aspire to be, as a sports photographer who suffers a broken leg while on the job, and Matthau is the sneaky representation unchecked American entitlement, as his brother-in-law who tries to scam the insurance agency by having Lemmon's character make his injury look much worse than it is.
The premise is of course used as an excuse for a series of set-pieces where the duo goes through ridiculous lengths to "prove" their case, sandwiched in between some of the best Lemmon-Matthau banters and screaming matches as the photographer's becoming more and more uncomfortable with the ploy. The long-for-a-screwball-comedy runtime actually flies by and it's always a joy to watch Matthau and Lemmon bounce off one another.
The 1080p transfer is incredibly clean and free of scratches. Apart from a look of slight digital scrubbing that gives some rough edges to the film grain, the disc does great service to Wilder's unique blend of comedies that are shot like dramas, with high contrast.
We get a DTS-HD 2.0 mono track. Even though it's not 1.0, the way mono should be presented in HD, there's great range and clarity in the track and the balance between dialogue and the score works splendidly.
Commentary by Joseph McBride: If you're looking for a crash course on Wilder's cinema and his biography, you've come to the last place. The Wilder historian focuses a lot of Wilder's life and relationship with Hollywood, as well as stories about The Fortune Cookie's production.
Call for Extras: A very brief film of Lemmon calling out for extras for the massive football game scene that starts the film.
Tribute to I.A.L. Diamond: Diamond was one of Wilder's frequent collaborators on his screenplays. This 2-minute clip shows Wilder giving tribute to his co-worker and friend.
Scene Work: A brief clip of Wilder, Matthau, and Lemmon working on a scene, not from The Fortune Cookie, but from Wilder's late career misfire, Buddy Buddy.
Trailers From Hell: Screenwriter Chris Wilkinson adds his commentary to the film's trailer.
We also get the Trailer without the commentary.
The Fortune Cookie is one of Wilder's most underrated comedies, along with One, Two, Three. The Kino release showcases the best home video transfer of the film you can find anywhere.
Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com