Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson in The Fortune (1975)

Three in a Bed

With the Mann act of the 1920s it makes it incredibly difficulty to transport women across state lines for 'immoral' purposes and that is a problem for Nicky (Warren Beatty) an already married hustler who wants to get his girlfriend, wealthy heiress Freddy (Stockard Channing), to Los Angeles to get his hands on her money. To get around the Mann Act Nicky decides that Freddy should marry his old friend Oscar (Jack Nicholson) to make it legal except things don't go to plan when Oscar takes a real shine to Freddy much to the annoyance of Nicky. But that is nothing compared to when Freddy says she is going to give her money to charity, leading to Nicky and Oscar to try and kill her to get their hands on her money which turns out not to be as easy as they thought.

I have watched "The Fortune" three times now and that it isn't because I liked it, in fact the second time I watched it was only to confirm what I thought when I first watched it which was as a whole it doesn't work. But there is the third time which I watched it and thanks to a friend he did an edited version of all Nicholson's scenes and then all of Beatty's scene and of course all of Channing's scenes and you know what they all worked individually.

Jack Nicholson and Stockard Channing in The Fortune (1975)

So what that means is we have Beatty doing a fine job of playing a smooth hustler who becomes frustrated because not only is Oscar involved in his scam but also because Freddy is naive, emotional and does his head in almost as much as Oscar. We also have Nicholson doing an equally good job of playing the wild haired Oscar who has a devious smile when ever what he does something to annoy Nicky. And as I said all three performances work with Stockard Channing amusing as the naive Freddy who ends up winding up both Nicky and Oscar. The trouble is that when you put the performances together they just don't gel and there seems like there is uneasy tension going on.

It is not just down to Beatty, Nicholson and Channing that "The Fortune" doesn't work as the editing of the scenes isn't sharp enough to make a scene funny. For example when Nicky returns home and Oscar climbs out of the bedroom window the scene just doesn't snap and so the laugh isn't there, in fact it is missing something to make the punch line of the neighbour seeing Oscar fall from the window work. And that is the same through out as we have one scheme after another failing.

What this all boils down to is that "The Fortune" is one of those rare movies where all the parts work but they don't work together and so the end result is a movie which feels like it is lacking something and only occasionally funny.