Directed by Mike Nichols
Written by Carole Eastman
Starring Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Stockard Channing
Comedy always boils down to personal taste, since everyone thinks different things are funny and one of the most dated forms is screwball comedy. While it worked wonderfully in the 30s, at time went on the elements of it lost their luster. From time to time, though, a filmmaker decides to bring it back, and one prime example was The Fortune.
Nicky (Warren Beatty) and Oscar (Jack Nicholson) are two small-time conman who think they have hit it big: Heiress Freddie Bigard (Stockard Channing) is enamored of Nicky, who sees it as a way to make a big score. But there’s a problem: Nicky is married and taking her across country to Los Angeles would run afoul of the Mann Act. And that’s where the unmarried Oscar comes it: Nicky plans to marry him to Freddie. But when Freddie resists their attempts to get her to give them the money, they move to the next step: murder.
The movie is a little too laid back and slow for screwball comedy, but it’s still funny. Especially nice is see the actors in the top of their form. This was Channing’s first major movie role, and she’s just fine as the clueless Freddie. Nicholson and Beatty are at the top of their form.
Before filming, the movie was considered by the studio to be a sure thing. Beatty did it in order to interest the studio in making Hairspray and Nichols was brought in after a couple of major flops. There was tension on the set between Nichols and writer Carole Eastman, and Jack Nicholson was hit some some difficult personal events that may have affected his performance. Possibly as a result the movie flopped badly.
Still, even with all this, the movie has its charms. Just watching the actors is worth it.