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The Fortune Cookie (alternative UKmarker 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 Stadiummarker. 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.


rest of cast listed alphabetically:
  • John Anderson as Abraham Lincoln (uncredited)
  • Jim Brown as Running Back - Number 32 (archive footage) (uncredited)
  • Leroy Kelly as Running Back #44 (archive footage) (uncredited)
  • Jon Silo as Tailor (uncredited)


  • This was the first film to feature the movie partnership of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau.
  • They acted together in 9 movies:

  • Lemmon also directed Matthau in Kotch (1971).

  • Production was halted for weeks after Walter Matthau had a heart attack. He had slimmed from 190 to 160 pounds by the time filming was completed, and had to wear a heavy black coat to conceal the weight loss.

  • Jack Lemmon originally had two other actors proposed to star with him. They were Frank Sinatra and Jackie Gleason, but Lemmon insisted that he do the picture with Walter Matthau.


Walter Matthau won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in this film. The movie also received Oscar nominations for Art Direction-Set Decoration (Black-and-White) (Robert Luthardt, Edward G. Boyle), Best Cinematography (Black-and-White), and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay. Walter Matthau was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actor - Musical/Comedy.

Cleveland locations

Saint Mark's Hospital is in reality St. Vincent Charity Hospital. In 1966, the scene was filmed on East 24th Street in an older section. In 1966, St. Vincent Charity had completed a then-ultramodern curved Hospital building.

Terminal Towermarker was the base for the law firm used. In one image, one can see Erieview Towermarker and construction of the Federal Building's steel skeleton.


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