Film: Fletch

If you shoot me... you're liable to lose a lot of those humanitarian awards.

1985 comedy-mystery film starring Chevy Chase, (loosely) based on the novel by Gregory Mcdonald.

Irwin M. Fletcher (Chevy Chase), better known as 'Fletch', writes a column for a Los Angeles newspaper under the byline 'Jane Doe'. He's working undercover at a local beach where a lot of hard drug-trafficking is taking place when he is suddenly cornered by Alan Stanwyck (Tim Matheson) who, assuming him to be one of the many junkies floating around the beach, makes him a strange offer. Claiming he has incurable cancer, Stanwyck asks Fletch to murder him a week from that date in order to both avoid his suffering and to provide for his family by allowing them to claim life insurance. Intrigued, Fletch begins to investigate Stanwyck's claims, discovering that things may be tied in with the story he is investigating at the beach, and that a sinister police chief (Joe Don Baker) may also be involved...

Probably Chevy Chase's most well-known role after Clark Griswold, and something of a cult hit. Resulted in a sequel, Fletch Lives, which took Fletch to The Deep South where he investigated intrigue around his family estate.

Has nothing to do with the British series Porridge, the main character of which is also referred to as 'Fletch'.

Provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Inverted. In the novels, Fletch was a handsome, young, blond, extremely muscular man who could bed any woman he wanted. In the movies, he was played by a forty-something Chevy Chase who, while not exactly unhandsome, doesn't meet the other criteria that closely.
  • Amoral Attorney: In both films, Fletch is bothered by his ex-wife's incredibly annoying alimony attorney Melvyn Gillette, who he despises almost as much as his ex-wife. (Supposedly, Melvin was able to get a rather unfair settlement in his wife's favor.) Fletch gets even with him at the end of the second film, however, when he shows up offering to forego all future alimony payments (and never show his face there again) in exchange for the Belle Isle property, which he believes to be valuable. Fletch, barely able to contain his joy, happily signs over the land, which unbeknownst to Melvin is worthless and covered with toxic waste due to the events of the movie.
  • American Gothic Couple: Stanwyck's parents, in essence if not in image.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Fletch is quite fond of these. He's even capable of pulling them off by doing nothing but talking nonsense.
  • Character Name Alias: Fletch uses several of them, often real people. Not everyone catches on.
    • The Stanwycks remark at his being named after President Harry Truman.
    • The doctor remarks as his having the same name as "a childrens elephant."
      • "Is that with two "b"s?
      • "No. Yes. Just not right next to each other."
    • Also used:
  • Chekhov's Gun: Or Chekhov's Lighter, really.
  • Creepy Physical: Fletch tries to bargain his way out of a rectal exam.
    Fletch: MoooooooOOOOOOOOOOooooon river! (moments later) You using the whole fist, doc?
  • Disneyesque: A dream sequence in the sequel.
  • Darker and Edgier: Fletch goes from comical to darkly serious as the novels progress.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Fletch. And how.
    • For one example, the movie contains possibly the driest ever reading of the line "Thank God. The police."
  • Dirty Cop: Chief of Police Karlin is behind the drug running on the beach, along with Stanwyck. Most of the other cops who appear are pretty corrupt as well.
  • Embarrassing First AND Middle Name: Fletch gets quite irate if you call him 'Irwin'.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Alan Stanwyck. He is unfailingly polite when he first meets Fletch, but he obviously figures him to be a disposable lowlife.
  • Glove Snap: A physician does this before giving Fletch a rectal examination.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Fletch
  • I Have Many Names: Fletch
  • Imagine Spot: Fletch as a Laker in the first film, a musical scene on the plantation in the second.
  • Ironic Echo: A visual example. In the first scene where Stanwyck approaches Fletch, Stanwyck is in a smart suit and Fletch in a scruffy Lakers shirt and jeans. In the last scene, they've essentially switched clothing — Stanwyck because he's actually planning on killing Fletch, Fletch because he's long since figured out that this is what Stanwyck's planning on doing. And because it's actually Stanwyck's suit, which Fletch acquired prior to sleeping with Stanwyck's wife.
  • Karmic Death: Stanwyck is planning to shoot Fletch, having lured him there with the whole "I'm dying and want you to kill me for the insurance" thing. He ends up getting shot and killed by the Chief, who he was double-crossing.
  • The Klan: Mocked in Fletch Lives.
  • Large Ham: Chevy Chase as Fletch.
  • Last Name Basis: Hey, it's better than 'Irwin'.
  • Look Behind You: Fletch pulls this on a dog, funnily enough.
  • Miranda Rights:
    Fletch: You fellas wanna read me my rights?
    Detective: You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to have your face kicked in by me. You have the right to have your balls stomped by him (indicating his partner).
  • No Honor Among Thieves: How the villains are undone at the end. Turns out Stanwyck, learning on the grapevine that Fletch's story was on the verge of blowing the drug smuggling at the beach wide open, decided to fake his death and flee to Rio with his wife (well, one of them) and several hundred thousand dollars that the Chief of Police had staked him for the next shipment. The Chief, naturally, was not overly pleased.
  • Oh Crap!: At the end when Fletch realizes that performing The Summation on Stanwyck's scheme won't actually stop Stanwyck from, well, going through with his scheme.
    Fletch: Whoops.
    Gail Whoops? What do you mean, 'whoops'?! Don't say 'whoops'!
  • Only One Name: Fletch. When asked for his full name, he gives "Fletch F. Fletch."
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Some of Fletch's disguises are quite intricate. Others require no more than the investment of $0.45 in a set of novelty teeth. If that.
    • Lampshaded at the beginning, where Fletch remarks that going undercover as a junkie is strangely easy, but actually requires underplaying it rather than howling and drooling as you might be tempted to do as a stereotypical addict; "act like you don't give a crap, you fit right in."
  • Sequel Non-Entity: Larry, Fletch's Girl Friday at the newspaper in Fletch, is nowhere to be found in the sequel. Likewise with Gail Stanwyk, a sufferer of the Cartwright Curse. The same can't be said for Mr. Underhill, although he was Demoted to Extra (after being not much more than an extra in the first film), only appearing in a Dream Sequence (and then only in a panoramic Crowd Song, at that!).
  • Skeleton Key Card: How he breaks into his own apartment (via a window, no less) in a failed attempt to evade his ex-wife's lawyer.
  • The Stoner: Fletch's alias trying to investigate beach drug trade.

Alternative Title(s):

Fletch Lives