Fletch (1985)

Fletch poster.jpg

Are you putting a whole fist up there Doc? Irwin Fletcher (Chevy Chase) is an undercover reporter doing a drugs story while disguised as a homeless junkie on the beach when he’s approached by businessman Alan Stanwyk (Tim Matheson) to kill him for $50,000 because he’s got bone cancer. Fletch identifies himself as Ted Nugent. He then investigates this fascinating proposition, donning a myriad of disguises and identities (we particularly like the 49c teeth), getting mired in Stanwyk’s marital disarray, property deals, police corruption involving Chief of Police Karlin (Joe Don Baker) – and murder. And he gets to know Alan’s LA wife Gail (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson) in a mutually satisfying fashion. Win! Gregory Mcdonald’s novel gets a fast-moving adaptation from Andrew Bergman, a director in his own right (there was some additional uncredited work by fellow writer-director Phil Alden Robinson.)  Chase gives the performance (or performances) that you’d expect – droll and deadpan, always amiable (yet plucky!) and the running joke about his bizarre expense claims is well done. Fine, funny lighthearted fare handled with his customary aplomb by director Michael Ritchie, energised by a typically zippy plinkety-plonk score from Harold Faltermeyer, the go-to composer for zeitgeisty mid-Eighties entertainment. Chase even dons an Afro to play basketball with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. There’s a wonderful supporting cast including Geena Davis in the newsroom, David Harper (of The Waltons!) as ‘teenager’ and Kenneth Mars:  we are thrice blessed!

The Producers (1968)

The Producers red poster.jpg

Simply hysterical. You know this from the long-running musical but this is the Real McCoy, Mel Brooks’ tale of failed Broadway producer Max Bialystock (the incomparable Zero Mostel, credited here simply by his first name) and naive bookkeeper Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) who sell 25,000% of a terrible show called Springtime for Hitler:  A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden. It’s written by a Nazi hiding in New York.  They stage it in the belief that it will be a terrible flop and they’ll get rich. They hire a dreadful cross-dressing choreographer whose plays always close on the first day of rehearsal. Of course it’s a monster hit. So who’s funnier? Kenneth Mars as the demented playwright? Dick Shawn as the impossibly camp Hitler? Or Zero? Or Gene? You decide. And the show has to be seen to be believed. Gets better with age.