After a stint on "Saturday Night Live" as one of the show's original cast members, Chevy Chase spent the '80s starring in some of the funniest movies of the decade. After a turn as Ty in "Caddyshack" and Clark Griswold in "National Lampoon's Vacation," Chase was picked to play master-of-disguise Irwin "Fletch" Fletcher in a pair of movies. The flicks, "Fletch" and "Fletch Lives," were based on books by Gregory McDonald — who turned down both Burt Reynolds and Mick Jagger before selecting Chase for the title role.
While "Fletch" might not be quite as revered as some of Chase's more famous films, it maintains a strong following, even with fans who were too young to see it in theaters when it was first released. In a 2007 interview with "Time" magazine, Chevy Chase calls it one of his favorite roles, largely because of the amount of improvising he was allowed to do. That improvisation gives the film an authenticity and freshness that make it still feel relevant today and helps it fit in proudly with other '80s comedy gold, from "Airplane!" to "Ghostbusters."
Think you know everything about these funny flicks? Take our quiz to see how much you really know about the Fletch movies!
Do you remember how the quick-witted Fletch earns a living in the movie?
As the film opens, Fletch reveals that he is an undercover reporter for the "Los Angeles Times." He writes under the pen name Jane Doe and spends his time investigating the seedy underbelly of L.A.
What big story is Fletch investigating as the film opens?
When the film opens, the audience is introduced to Fletch for the first time as he poses as a junkie on an L.A. beach. He's spent weeks pretending to be a homeless addict as he investigates a drug trafficking ring for the paper.
Why does rich mogul Alan Stanwyk, played by Tim Matheson, invite Fletch to his house?
To set him up with his daughter
To murder him
Thinking Fletch is just a transient, Alan Stanwyk invites Fletch to his swanky mansion. He offers Fletch a cool $50,000 to kill him with a gun so that Stanwyk doesn't have to go through with committing suicide.
Fans of the film know that Fletch's favorite sport shows up in several scenes. Do you remember what sport Fletch favors?
Fletch sports a Lakers jersey during his time undercover on the beaches of L.A. Viewers later learn that he keeps a basketball hoop in his apartment to keep his skills fresh. B-ball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Lakers announcer Chick Hearn also make an appearance in the flick.
What industry gave Stanwyk and his wife their millions?
Stanwyk and his wife are living large thanks to the millions they've made in the aviation industry. Of course, all that money actually come's from Stanwyk's wife, Gail, whose parents own mega corporation Boyd Aviation.
Do you remember which R&B singer belted out the opening theme song "Bit by Bit?"
Mary J. Blige
As the audience settles into their seats at the beginning of "Fletch," Stephanie Mills' "Bit by Bit" plays over the opening credits. You may remember Ms. Mills as Dorothy from the original '70s Broadway production of "The Wiz."
Which actress, who later starred in "Thelma and Louise," played Fletch's co-worker and buddy Larry in the movie?
Fletch loves nothing more than to annoy his boss, often with the help of co-worker and pal Larry. The role was played by a young Geena Davis, who later went on to play the housewife with a heart of gold Thelma in the 1991 classic "Thelma and Louise."
What excuse does Alan Stanwyk give Fletch to convince the reporter to take part in his murderous plan?
He has cancer.
When approaching Fletch with a crazy murder plot, Stanwyk tells Fletch that he is dying of bone cancer and would prefer to get past the pain by dying via gunshot. Not realizing Fletch is a reporter, Stanwyk has no way of knowing that Fletch is willing to go to great lengths -- including a rectal exam -- to find out the truth -- that Stanwyk isn't really ill.
Which of these personas does Fletch NOT take on when investigating Stanwyk and his drug trafficking case?
Fletch is a master of taking on roles to win people's trust and find the information he needs. Throughout the film, he plays a doctor, and airplane mechanic, an insurance auditor and an FCC agent, but never poses as a taxi driver.
Where does Fletch fly off to -- on his boss' dime -- to investigate a suspicious real estate purchase?
After learning that Gail Stanwyk had liquidated stock so her husband could purchase a ranch in Provo, Fletch heads to Utah to investigate. While there, he finds out that the property is only worth $3,000 -- not the $3 million Gail had given her hubby.
What discourages Fletch from sniffing around too long at the real estate office in Utah when investigating Stanwyk's ranch purchase?
Police show up
Determined to get to the bottom of the Stanwyk mystery, Fletch breaks into a real estate office in Provo to investigate the transaction. While he does pick up some useful info, he's discouraged from staying too long by the appearance of a very angry Doberman.
What excuse does the L.A.P.D. use for arresting Fletch and bringing him down to the station?
A pair of L.A.P.D. goons show up in Fletch's apartment, tossing a bag of heroin on the floor as an excuse to arrest him. From there he's taken straight to the station to face L.A.P.D. Chief Jerry Karlin.
What secret does Fletch learn about Stanwyk when posing as an insurance agent to interview Stanwyk's parents?
He's a wanted man.
He's secretly married.
In yet another of his personas, Fletch poses as an insurance agent to interview Stanwyk's parents. This interview breaks the case wide open as Stanwyk's parents reveal that their son has secretly been married for years, and not to Gail.
Where does Stanwyk plan on fleeing to after executing his dastardly plan?
By the end of the film, Fletch has figured out that Stanwyk always meant to kill Fletch in a plot to fake his own death. This would leave him free to head off to Brazil with his wife -- and with Gail's millions.
What's the best way to get revenge on a rich restaurant patron who is rude to his waiter?
Charge up his account.
One repeated gag in the film has Fletch taking revenge on a rude member of the tennis club. Each time he heads to the club, he orders expensive items -- like a $400 lunch -- and charges them to the Underhill account.
What does Fletch discover that Stanwyk was smuggling to the U.S. aboard his private jet?
Thanks to his dogged investigation, Fletch eventually blows the whole case open. He discovers Stanwyk was smuggling cocaine aboard his private jet, then passing it on to Chief Karlin, who was blackmailing criminals to sell the drugs.
What does Gail use to save Fletch from death at the end of the film?
After killing Stanwyk, crooked L.A.P.D. Chief Karlin turns his rage -- and his gun -- toward Fletch. Fortunately, Gail saves the day when she hits Karlin over the head with her tennis racquet. Guess all that time on the court paid off.
Four years after the first "Fletch" movie, a sequel was released called "Fletch Lives." Do you remember what classic flick served as the inspiration for the poster to this sequel?
"The Wizard of Oz"
"Gone with the Wind"
The poster for the 1989 film "Fletch Lives" was a perfect parody for the famous "Gone with the Wind" posters. They show Chevy Chase as Fletch carrying a woman in his arms, wearing identical clothes to those Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh wore to play Scarlett and Rhett in the epic Civil War tale.
What big story is undercover reporter Fletch investigating when the 1989 sequel "Fletch Lives" opens?
Fletch just can't stay out of trouble. When "Fletch Lives" begins, the reporter is working undercover as a waitress at a Greek restaurant. Dressing in drag, he hopes to pick up information about a local gambling ring.
What does Fletch inherit, much to his surprise, in "Fletch Lives"?
Just as he's fighting with his boss at the newspaper office, Fletch receives a call that's he's inherited a mansion from his aunt. "Fletch Lives" is largely set in Louisiana, where the splendid plantation home -- Belle Isle -- is located.
What is the quirky name of Belle Isle's caretaker in "Fletch Lives?"
When Fletch arrives at Belle Isle in the film "Fletch Lives," he is met by the seemingly simple Calculus Entropy. Good old Calc served as caretaker of Belle Isle for Fletch's aunt, and he hopes to do the same for Fletch.
What is the name of Fletch's, umm, interesting cellmate when he is locked up in "Fletch Lives"?
When Fletch is locked up, accused of Amanda's murder, he finds himself with a cellmate named Ben Dover. After learning that Ben is both a transvestite and a necrophiliac -- and looking for new relationships -- Fletch is relieved to be released from the slammer by new lawyer Hamilton Johnson.
Which group is hired to scare Fletch out of town by marching on his plantation?
The Black Panthers
The Ku Klux Klan
White supremacist group the KKK shows up in their infamous robes after being hired to scare Fletch away from his new property. Fortunately, caretaker Calculus is there to scare them away with his shotgun.
Who openly expresses interest in buying Fletch's new plantation home in "Fletch Lives"?
When Fletch arrives at his new plantation in Louisiana, he learns that Reverend Jimmy Lee Farnsworth is something of a local celebrity. In addition to serving his congregation at the church, Farnsworth runs a park called Bibleland, and he wants Fletch's property to expand the park.
Where does Fletch encounter Ben Dover for the second time, after first meeting him in jail in "Fletch Lives"?
After escaping Ben Dover's advances at the jail, Fletch is shocked when he runs into him again at the local morgue. Fletch and Calculus have gone to the morgue to investigate Amanda's death. While there, Ben steals Fletch's beloved Lakers watch.
Why does the mysterious Bluebird group really want to buy Fletch's land in "Fletch Lives"?
To open a hotel
To build houses
To dump toxic waste
In "Fletch Lives," Fletch learns that the Bluebird corporation is behind the plot to buy his land. The company is looking for a new site to dump toxic waste, a fact which Fletch learns from his boss at the newspaper office.
What identity does Fletch use to allow him to sneak into Bibleland in the sequel "Fletch Lives"?
Believing the reverend is involved with Amanda's death and the attacks on his own life, Fletch disguises himself as a faith healer to sneak into Bibleland. Unfortunately, he gets caught and is forced to "heal" a member of the audience to avoid blowing his cover.
Turns out Hamilton "Ham" Johnson wasn't such a good guy. He was the one who murdered Amanda as part of a ploy to get revenge on Reverend Farnsworth, who Ham felt took advantage of his mother in her dying days.
What is the name of Fletch's love interest -- and local real estate agent -- in "Fletch Lives"?
Becky Culpepper is Fletch's romantic interest in the 1989 sequel. Unfortunately, this relationship leads her into trouble when she is kidnapped by Ben Dover -- escaping only when she throws Hamilton Johnson's mother's ashes in the air.
Who kills Hamilton to prevent him from shooting Fletch?
Turns out Calculus is more than a caretaker -- he's an undercover FBI Agent named Goldstein. When Hamilton Johnson threatens to shoot Fletch, Goldstein is forced to kill Hamilton to save Fletch's life.
What does Fletch give his ex-wife at the end of "Fletch Lives"?
"Fletch Lives" ends with his ex-wife's lawyer demanding that he sign over Belle Isle to her as alimony. Fletch happily does so with a wink to the audience -- knowing the property has just burned down and he's already received the insurance settlement.