Chevy Chase as Fletch in Fletch (1985)

The Thrill of The Chase

Whilst Chevy Chase has not been in what I would call a good movie for a long time there was a period when he was one of America's top comedians, making quality movies which have become comedy classics. One of those movies is "Fletch" which for those who have never heard of it is a comedy crime caper with the emphasis being on the comedy. Now there is nothing special about that, comedy crime capers are common place but this one demonstrates Chevy Chase at his best delivering scene after scene of dead pan smart alec humour which at times has the spoof like quality of Leslie Nielsen. In fact whilst "Fletch" serves up this comedy-noir style storyline of an investigative journalist the story isn't important because it is all about Chevy Chase.

Investigative journalist Irwin 'Fletch' Fletcher (Chevy Chase - National Lampoon's Vacation) is currently undercover as a beach bum in order to undercover the drugs trade but finds himself at the end of a surprising proposal when businessman Alan Stanwyck (Tim Matheson - Animal House) offers him Fletch money to kill him, saying that he has cancer. Alan is unaware that the bum he picked up is in fact a reporter and so Fletch starts digging around to discover that Alan is not all that he seems and is surprisingly connected to the drug culture on the beach.

Dana Wheeler-Nicholson as Gail Stanwyk in Fletch (1985)

I called "Fletch" comedy-noir earlier on because for the reason it has elements of the noir style as we have the investigative reporter, the use of narration and a convoluted plot which sees Fletch travel all over the place, get in trouble with the law and end up close and personal with a pretty dame. But as you can imagine none of this is done in a way to create mystery but to generate plenty of laughs and as such following what actually happens becomes unimportant. That is probably a good thing because as convoluted goes "Fletch" is one of the most convoluted crime capers going.

But then "Fletch" is less about the story and more about the humour and in particular Chevy Chase who delivers what for me is his best performance. In fairness the writing is brilliant giving Chase countless funny situations to be in from probing and being probed by a doctor to various scenes at a tennis club. But it is Chase's dead pan but smart alec delivery which makes everything so funny and in a way you get a sense that Chase wasn't so much creating a character in Fletch but being himself, making fun of everything but doing it all with a straight face.

Chevy Chase is not the only star in "Fletch" and the supporting cast are just important from Geena Davis as assistant Larry to Joe Don Baker as the Chief of Police. All of these supporting performances bounce off of Chase perfectly and there is this constant naturalness to the way they all interact making it feel less scripted.

What this all boils down to is that "Fletch" is for me Chevy Chase's best movie because it showcases his brilliant dead pan delivery of smart alec comedy. Yes it is a bit dated in places now, most movies over 25 years old but it is still so much fun.