The best part of Fletch is not the humor, not the one-liners, or Fletch's deliberate obnoxiousness. The best part is that the plot works, and works well. And, like many a "detective" story--
like Jonny Gossamer novels in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, "the plots, they all have this thing, this formula that was so cool... two cases that were seemingly unrelated. One's normal, and the other' some wild shit... Then you' defined out that they're connected. That it's all one case."
--the two cases/stories that Fletch is working end up more connected than just the coincidence of him hanging out at the beach to look like a junkie and Stanwyk picking him because he seems aimless and disposable. And, the connections don't feel arbitrary. SPOILERS. But really, if you haven't already seen Fletch, you should just go watch it now, come back later. Stanwyk's connection the drug trade is a pretty good reason for him to fake his death and make a run for it. Also, we see Stanwyk and the Chief (Joe Don Baker) about a half hour in. The clues are there just enough that we can almost keep up with Fletch. Almost.
Fletch makes great use of underlings. He talks to nurses, secretaries, mechanics, real estate agents, drug dealers. All to get information on their higher ups, to get access to file folders and travel and deal details. He poses as a waiter in a crunch. The "help" are invisible. And they are privy to things.
He talks to parents, who are all too willing to talk about their kid.
And, he's got great asides that mean nothing. Like when he tells the mechanics that he needs "10 quarts of antifreeze, preferably Prestone" then he changes his mind, which sells the lie better; "No, make that Quaker State."
Also, I imagine that the waiter (Nico De Silva) at the club knows damn well that Fletch is not there with the Underhills. He's just tired of Mr. Underhill's mistreatment.
And being this kind of reporter (or private detective, as Fletch is effectively the same), lying to people left and right--this sounds fun. Hell, at nine-years-old, I should have been wanting to be someone like Fletch rather than, say, Luke Skywalker or Indiana Jones.
And, it only just now occurred to me that Sally Ann never actually shows up in the story. She remains on the periphery. (The police are going to pick her up at the Airport Marriott, according to Fletch's letter, but she is also supposedly connecting on a flight from Provo so shouldn't need--but could have, depending on the layover--a hotel room. Also, Fletch confirmed the booking, in Alan's name (when it should be under an alias as Alan is faking his death), on flight 441, but in the letter at the end of the film, he tells the police that it is flight 306.)You gotta wonder how much she knows about what Alan has been doing. Does she know he's got another wife? Does she know he is involved in the drug trade?
Anyway, I'm nine now. And, Fletch and his deliberate obnoxiousness is something I enjoy a lot. And all these other movies I've been rewatching this year--they're on regular repeat on video at home, and movies are infecting my brain more thoroughly, thank god, than, well, god. Despite weekly church, and bible class five days a week in school. Movies are more evocative, more fun.