Thanks, Matt! Like Robin, I haven't seen this in quite some time (and maybe not all the way through) and I will be including this on a future TT order. Glad to hear this disc is consistent with their usual high quality. Lemmon is a great actor and Matthau is a terrific screen presence in any mobile he's in.
I watched this movie for the very first time ever this morning on my big screen.
Thought the film was good, not great. I love Matthau and Lemmon so the film could have been about mowing grass and I would have liked it. There were some very funny pieces of dialogue that I enjoyed. I don't know -- I guess it might be the fact that it has a real downer of a message about society in general.
I will say this...
The transfer is outstanding. Oustanding! I love when black and white films really show their colors. The transfer is nice and sharp with just enough grain. It really "POPS!" If you don't believe me, look at the photo I took while watching...
Yup, I saw this at the pictures an age ago under the UK title of Meet Whiplash Willie (they probably rightly thought that most people in the UK didn't know what a fortune cookie was, I didn't), Matthau and Lemmon's wife are lowlifes, but Lemmon & the guy who injured him are good guys.
Matthau and Lemmon team up for the first time here. It is Walter Matthau's first time working with Director Billy Wilder, but Jack Lemmon is a seasoned pro. Together, they make cinema magic; it would not be the last time they would partner, appearing in seven other films together.
Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond deliver a witty, sharp take on the insurance scam, a screenplay filled with funny quips and witty one liners.
Matthau is the star of the picture, winning a much-deserved supporting Oscar for his leading performance. But Jack Lemmon holds his own, and is very good too. Lemmon appears as if he is having a ball zooming around the sets in his motorized wheelchair as the "crippled" cameraman, while Matthau is in his element as the shady "Whiplash Willy", out to score a big payout for his "injured" brother-in-law.
Not to be forgotten is the football player who injured Harry Hinkle, Luther 'Boom Boom' Jackson (played by Ron Rich). Rich is very believable as the brooding, morose footballer, depressed at hurting Hinkle.
As a dark comedy, the picture is much along the lines of The Apartment in terms of atmosphere. But the films wins with perfect direction, a brilliant screenplay, and a standout performance from Walter Matthau.
Twilight Time's Blu Ray is nearly perfect; grey scale is spot on and the overall picture is very sharp. There are hardly any spots, artifacts, or dust, dirt and other anomalies. There is one big one I noticed, a white spot that appears for one frame. Other than that, I didn't see really anything else except maybe one spec. The picture looks amazing. Audio is likewise perfect, with no hiss, hum, crackle, or other extraneous noise present. the Mono 2.0 soundtrack is just fine; a surround-sound track wouldn't have a chance to be utilized fully.
There are no bonus features, really, beside's the film's trailer (which should be mandatory on ALL releases, ever), Twilight Time's perennial isolated score track, and booklet with essay by Julie Kirgo (as good as ever).
In the end, I liked this film. It wasn't what I expected, but I enjoyed it. I've loved Matthau and Lemmon since the first time I saw Grumpy Old Men, and I think they work very well together every time. Billy Wilder has worked with Ray Milland, Gregory Peck, Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Charles Laughton, Fred MacMurray, Marlene Dietrich, William Holden, Jean Arthur, Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, Erich Von Stroheim, and many others, a vertitable who's who of golden age cinema, and in each instance, has crafted a masterpiece. Billy Wilder, one of the greatest directors of all time, can take the most innocuous subject and make a hit out of it. The Fortune Cookie proves this true.