116 user 94 critic

Cookie's Fortune (1999)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Drama | 16 April 1999 (USA)
1:34 | Trailer
Conflict arises in the small town of Holly Springs when an old woman's death causes a variety of reactions among family and friends.


Robert Altman


Anne Rapp
3 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.6/10 X  

A wealthy gynecologist's ideal life is thrown into turmoil when the women closest to him begin to affect his life in unexpecting ways.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Richard Gere, Helen Hunt, Farrah Fawcett
Kansas City (1996)
Crime | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A pair of kidnappings expose the complex power dynamics within the corrupt and unpredictable workings of 1930s Kansas City.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Miranda Richardson, Harry Belafonte
The Company (2003)
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Ensemble drama centered around a group of ballet dancers, with a focus on one young dancer who's poised to become a principal performer.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Neve Campbell, James Franco, Malcolm McDowell
Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A look at what goes on backstage during the last broadcast of America's most celebrated radio show, where singing cowboys Dusty and Lefty, a country music siren, and a host of others hold court.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Lily Tomlin, Meryl Streep, Woody Harrelson
Crime | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

A lawyer uses his power to help his lover put her father behind bars, but when he escapes, they are all in danger.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Embeth Davidtz, Robert Downey Jr.
A Wedding (1978)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The daughter of a Louisville truck driver marries the scion of a very wealthy family, but reception at the family estate is boycotted by the invited guests.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Carol Burnett, Desi Arnaz Jr., Paul Dooley
Secret Honor (1984)
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A fictionalized former President Richard M. Nixon offers a solitary, stream-of-consciousness reflection on his life and political career - and the "true" reasons for the Watergate scandal and his resignation.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Philip Baker Hall
Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A repressed, middle-aged divorced U.S. Greek meets a young singer through a dating service and becomes smitten.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Paul Dooley, Marta Heflin, Titos Vandis
Ready to Wear (1994)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  

A chronicle of the interconnected lives of a group of people in the lead up to Paris Fashion Week.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Sophia Loren, Julia Roberts, Marcello Mastroianni
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The familiar tragic story of Vincent van Gogh is broadened by focusing as well on his brother Theodore, who helped support Vincent. The movie also provides a nice view of the locations which Vincent painted.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Tim Roth, Paul Rhys, Adrian Brine
Short Cuts (1993)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The day-to-day lives of several suburban Los Angeles residents.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Andie MacDowell, Julianne Moore, Tim Robbins
Streamers (1983)
Crime | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Four young soldiers waiting to be shipped to Viet Nam deal with racial tension and their own intolerance when one soldier reveals he's gay.

Director: Robert Altman
Stars: Matthew Modine, Michael Wright, Mitchell Lichtenstein


Cast overview, first billed only:
Glenn Close ... Camille Dixon
Julianne Moore ... Cora Duvall
Liv Tyler ... Emma Duvall
Chris O'Donnell ... Jason Brown
Charles S. Dutton ... Willis Richland
Patricia Neal ... Jewel Mae 'Cookie' Orcutt
Ned Beatty ... Lester Boyle
Courtney B. Vance ... Otis Tucker
Donald Moffat ... Jack Palmer
Lyle Lovett ... Manny Hood
Danny Darst Danny Darst ... Billy Cox
Matt Malloy ... Eddie 'The Expert' Pitts
Randle Mell ... Patrick Freeman
Niecy Nash ... Wanda Carter
Rufus Thomas ... Theo Johnson


Cookie's Fortune unfolds over an eventful Easter weekend in the small town of Holly Springs, Mississippi. The town residents are peaceful, kind folk -- with the exception of Camille Dixon -- a pushy theatre director with an incredibly shy younger sister, Cora, whose estranged daughter Emma has just returned to town. On the heels of her latest play, Camille is shocked to discover that her Aunt Jewel Mae "Cookie" Orcutt has committed suicide. Terrified at the thought of how this will tarnish the family name, she eats the suicide note to make it look like a burglary. This set-up leads the police to one main suspect, Willis Richland, who also happens to be Cookie's best friend. Although the rest of the town is convinced Willis didn't commit the crime, an outside investigator isn't so sure. As Easter Sunday and opening night of the play arrive, the truth comes out, revealing more secrets than anyone could have possibly imagined. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Welcome to Holly Springs... home of murder, mayhem and catfish enchiladas.


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for the depiction of a violent act, and for sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

16 April 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cookie's Fortune See more »

Filming Locations:

Holly Springs, Mississippi, USA See more »


Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$186,828, 4 April 1999

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Julie Christie turned down the role of Camille. See more »


In the opening scene where the police car backs up and then pulls away, you can see the cameraman's shadow and then also his reflection on the side of the car. See more »


[playing Scrabble in Willis's cell]
Willis Richland: "A-we". Triple word, that's it, I'm out.
Lester Boyle: "A-we"? A-we? A-we is not a word!
[He hits the table, upsetting the board and scattering letters everywhere]
Jack Palmer: AWE, Lester, "awe". From Old Norse, derived from the reconstructed Indo-European base "Agh!" A combination of fear, reverence, and wonder.
See more »


Featured in Altman (2014) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Overlooked Gem From Robert Altman
21 August 2015 | by andy-66447See all my reviews

Throughout the long trajectory of his career, Robert Altman was known for interweaving multiple plots and characters within the context of a given theme. Think the brotherhood of the country music community in "Nashville" or the detachment of contemporary California life in "Short Cuts." But in 1999, Altman tried something a bit unique – he directed a motion picture with a plot. One plot. One story. A comparatively small cast of characters. It was called, "Cookie's Fortune," and it's this month's Buried Treasure.

With a clever screenplay by Anne Rapp, "Cookie's Fortune" tells the story of Willis (Charles S. Dutton), a handyman wrongly accused of murder in a small Mississippi town. His widowed employer (Patricia Neal) commits suicide at the outset, and her daughters decide to disguise the shooting as a murder in a vain attempt to preserve the family's reputation. Since Willis had just cleaned the widow's guns the night before, his fingerprints are all over them. And there you have the most plot structure you'll ever find in an Altman film.

What follows this sullen and morose setup is Altman's funniest picture since "M*A*S*H" in 1970. You see, everyone in the town knows Willis couldn't possibly commit murder. The jailer (a young Chris O'Donnell) consistently leaves the cell door open, and the sheriff (a fantastic Ned Beatty) plays cards with him – in the cell! You see, Beatty's character knows Willis is innocent because, "I've fished with him" – which seems to be his quintessence test for everyone he knows.

But, as in every Altman film, there's one character who doesn't quite fit. One who takes things more seriously than the others. Remember how pathetically dangerous Robert Duvall's Major Frank Burns seemed in "M*A*S*H" (as opposed to the maniacal buffoon Larry Linville played on the long-running television series)? It was as though the Major Burns character walked on the set from another movie – just to give the audience a jolt; to let us know this is war, and war is real.

In "Cookie's Fortune," Glenn Close plays Camille, the theatrical and mildly deranged daughter of the deceased – a slightly more comical version of her wicked turn in "Fatal Attraction." Camille is the smartest character in the picture, but she's also the one who doesn't belong; the one who, in a panic attack, might just turn this lovable comedy into a dreary exercise in unhinged madness. Fortunately, Altman is a skilled enough director to not allow this to happen, but my does he dangle it closely (pun intended). Had Glenn Close played her role ever so slightly more unsettled, the entire film would have been ruined. Altman walks a fine line allowing Camille to exaggerate her pomposity, but then her function seems to be to remind us that this is murder, and murder is real.

Still, Altman never loses sight of the fact that "Cookie's Fortune" is a comedy, dark though it may be. The script is peppered with well-drawn characters, and the acting is first-rate – particularly Ned Beatty as the sheriff, and also Liv Tyler as Camille's desperado niece, whose boyfriend just so happens to be Chris O'Donnell's maladroit jailer. Altman is a master handling these intertwining characters, as he doles out information in small enough doses for us to completely process their connections, and for us to understand the soul of the town in which they regale.

Unfortunately, "Cookie's Fortune" was released during the spring doldrums – that period between the Oscars and the summer blockbusters, when the studios trot out the fare they don't think anyone will pay to see. By the time the Oscars rolled around that year, the talk was all about "Magnolia," "American Beauty," "The Cider House Rules," and "The Green Mile." "Cookie's Fortune" was simply a forgotten footnote to American cinema in 1999. And that's a shame. You need to seek out this one. It's funny, touching, and intelligent – and easily one of Robert Altman's ten best films.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 116 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed