|Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in their first screen pairing|
Lemmon plays Harry Hinkle, a mild-mannered television cameraman working for CBS sports in Cleveland. While covering a Cleveland Browns game he's inadvertently tackled by player Luther "Boom Boom" Jackson (Ron Rich) and suffers a mild concussion. At least it starts out as a mild concussion. Once his shyster attorney brother-in-law (Matthau) gets a whiff of the possibilities Lemmon is in for weeks of wheelchairs, secret injections and neck braces -- whatever it takes to defraud an insurance company out of half a million dollars.
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Instead of Shirley MacLaine, Ron Rich as "Boom Boom" is the innocent undone by Lemmon's moral failings. Jackson is so guilt-ridden over the possibility that he may have seriously crippled Hinkle that he devotes all his time to seeing to his every need, to the detriment of his own career. Rich's performance is good, if a little one-note.
|Ron Rich as Luther "Boom Boom" Jackson|
Nevertheless, even if the satire is toothless, the laughs keep coming thanks to the comic chemistry of Lemmon and Matthau. The latter won a best support actor Oscar for his performance as Willie Gingrich, and it's easy to see why the two would continue to work together so often. Give a half-way decent script to these two and they were always a joy to watch, even if the end result didn't always rise to the level of greatness Billy Wilder was sometimes capable of.