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Hello, sir, I’m Roland Dough,
I work for someone you don’t know,
And last I checked,
I must inspect
The volume of your stereo.

While I’m here, I thought I’d ask
If you’ve seen any shady stuff,
Like backroom deals
Or big reveals
Or guys like me who just can’t bluff.

Of course, you’ve not seen me before;
I think I’d know if I was seen.
I just stopped by
To satisfy
My need to be in every scene.

No, no, don’t bother getting up.
Your stereo broke; what a shame!
I’m finished, so
I’d better go.
It’s time to pick another name.
__________________

MPAA rating: PG (perhaps PG-13 nowadays)

My VC has a habit of having me rewatch films I saw only once years ago, just to see if my vague memories are reliable. In this case, I recalled Fletch favorably, even if every detail of the plot had long ago been jettisoned from my mind. But now that I’ve seen it again, that’s a crying shame, because I enjoyed Fletch a lot more than I expected. Chevy Chase’s comedy can be hit-and-miss for me, but when he’s good, he’s good.

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Chase plays investigative reporter Irwin Fletcher (one guess what his nickname is), who is in the middle of an undercover drug bust when he is picked up by dying millionaire Alan Stanwyck (Tim Matheson), who promises to pay Fletch to kill him. Since not asking questions isn’t in his DNA, Fletch then sets out doing what he does best, following leads, dressing up, and lying through his teeth in pursuit of the truth.

While it’s based on a book series I didn’t know existed, I felt Fletch might have been intended to mirror the success of Beverly Hills Cop. Both of them cast an SNL alum as an improvisational investigator, backed by similar-sounding Harold Faltermeyer scores. Whereas Axel Foley had a gun to do off-hours police work, Fletch is entirely dependent on his wit and sharp tongue, and it’s great fun watching him scramble to plug the holes in his stories. Throughout the film, he impersonates a doctor, a beach bum, a country club guest, an insurance investigator, and probably some I’m forgetting, all with hilarious fake names, and Chevy Chase sells the verbal gymnastics with aplomb.

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It was also fun recognizing some of the secondary cast, from Geena Davis as his news office buddy, Joe Don Baker as a corrupt police chief, and even The Waltons’ Jim-Bob (David W. Harper) as a young car thief, not to mention small roles for George Wyner, Kenneth Mars, George Wendt, and M. Emmet Walsh. (The “Moon River” scene with Walsh as a doctor was literally the only thing I remembered from last time.) It’s a talented cast and an intriguing, weaving plot, but Chase is the anchor, whose wry narration and slick spontaneity make Fletch possibly his best role, though I still prefer Foul Play overall. Now to remind myself of the sequel I also saw only once called Fletch Lives, though I hear Fletch Dies never got off the ground. Just kidding, though there’s still talk of a re-cast prequel called Fletch Won. This franchise may not be dead yet.

Best line: (Dr. Dolan, speaking of someone Fletch doesn’t know) “You know, it’s a shame about Ed.”
(Fletch) “Oh, it was. Yeah, it was really a shame. To go so suddenly like that.”
(Dr. Dolan) “He was dying for years.”
(Fletch) “Sure, but… the end was very… very sudden.”
(Dr. Dolan) “He was in intensive care for eight weeks.”
(Fletch) “Yeah, but I mean the very end, when he actually died. That was extremely sudden.”

 

Rank: List Runner-Up (a very close one)

 

© 2017 S.G. Liput
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