Mike Nichols’ The Fortune (1975)

May 4, 2015 | By

We’re at the final third of a three-day summer-ish period that yielded sun and warmth… and of course I was indoors the whole time, working at another gig, and working on a main titles sequence. Sometimes certain things have to get done, and I’m nearing the finishing line for the short doc.


Ugly poster. No doubt about it. Oddly, it resembles the covers of cineaste books I’d find in used shops in the 1980s.

In between renderings and edits, I’ve added a review of a Mike Nichols film I’d never heard of – The Fortune (1975) – written by Carole Eastman under the pseudonym Adrien Joyce, and starring Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, and Stockard Channing in reportedly her formal big screen debut.

The severe mugging in the campaign art suggests something a risque, in terms of whether all those exaggerated faces might yield somethong closer to At Long Last Love (1975), but it’s safe to say they are very different animals in key areas. In her liner notes, Julie Kirgo does posit the same question that arose in my mind whilst watching The Fortune: why the big fascination with tales of comedy, mirth, music, and water management drama set in the 1920s / 1930s?

Was it a resurgence of interest in the heroes & heroines of classic gangster films? Auteur theorists who reintroduced forgotten classics to cinema eggheads who in turn inspired a new generation of filmmakers in their classes and essays? A new wave of filmmakers just as keen on revisiting the most impressionable films of their youths as today’s infatuation with things 1980s / 1990s?

I remember frequenting lots of used bookshops in the 1980s and seeing many autobiographies, pocket-sized compendiums on popular / iconic genres, essay books, collections of articles from snooty cineaste magazines, and coffee table books that were published during the 1970s and early 1980s. Maybe the autobios of retiring generations of stars, directors, writers, and iconic producers also affected colleagues who thought ‘Yeah! screwball comedies ARE awesome!’ and prompted the likes of Nichols, Eastman, Beatty, and Nicholson to make an homage as homages were starting to come into vogue.

Twilight Time’s Blu-ray edition reportedly marks the film’s formal home video debut (unless this Brazilian DVD counts), and it’s a really nice presentation of a genuine oddity. It’s alleged the Coen brothers love this film, and quite frankly, connoisseurs of the team will find some striking similarities between The Fortune and the Coens’ own zany work. It’s pretty unsubtle…

Coming next: soundtrack reviews, and two classic ‘journey’ films – the 1959 version of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth (Twilight Time) + Mario Bava’s psychedelic 1961 peplum quickie Hercules in the Haunted World / aka Hercules in the Center of the Earth (Fantoma).



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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