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FLETCH ($30) is probably one of Chevy Chase’s most memorable cinematic creations, but then again, during his brief stint as the cinematic king of comedy, Chase created a handful of screen character who remain every bit as memorable. In FLETCH, Chase portrays the title character, one Irwin M. Fletcher, a wisecracking investigative newspaper reporter who goes by his nickname and writes under the name of Jane Doe. As the film opens, Fletch is undercover as a junkie wandering the beach, in hopes of getting the inside scoop on the drug trade operating on the Los Angeles shore. While undercover, Fletch is approached by Alan Stanwyk (Tim Matheson) who offers him a large sum of cash to murder him; explaining that he has inoperable cancer and his family will receive his life insurance if he is murdered, instead of committing suicide. Fletch agrees to the proposition, but being a suspicious reporter, he begins investigating Stanwyk’s real motives. As Fletch uncovers the dark truth about Stanwyk, his attentions are drawn back to his drug trafficking story… The cast of FLETCH also includes Joe Don Baker, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Richard Libertini, M. Emmet Walsh, George Wendt, Kenneth Mars, Geena Davis, William Traylor, George Wyner, Tony Longo, Larry Flash Jenkins, Ralph Seymour, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Avery, Chick Hearn, Alison La Placa and William Sanderson.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made FLETCH available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Considering that FLETCH is almost twenty five years old, and that eighties comedies weren’t photographed to win Academy Award’s for cinematography, the 1080p presentation looks just right for this type of material. Image sharpness and detail are somewhat inconsistent, but even at its best, the image is going to come across as mildly soft in comparison to newer productions. The picture isn’t particularly dimensional, but again, this is attributable to the original photography. Colors are rendered at a relatively natural level of saturation. Blacks are reasonably accurate, while the white are stable. Contrast and shadow detail hold their own, but neither are not exemplary. The film elements from which FLETCH has been mastered do show some sign of age, but not to any excessive degree. Grain is present at varying levels, which generally helps maintain a film like quantity for the presentation.

FLETCH is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. For the most part, FLETCH features a truly vintage standard comedy mix, which fails to impress in almost every way. No surprises here, most of the sound is localized front and center, with very little directionality to the mix. Occasional effects crop up, but the material doesn’t present all that many opportunities to engage the listener anyway. Of course, the Blu-ray can’t be faulted for the lack of sonic information in the sound original mix. Still, I will give the lossless encode some credit, as it does enhance the overall quality of Harold Faltermeyer's music. Dialogue is crisply rendered and generally easy to understand. No other language tracks have been included on the disc, but English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a trio of Featurettes, which include: Just Charge It To The Underhills: Making And Remembering Fletch (twenty-seven minutes), From John Cocktoastin To Harry S. Truman: The Disguises (six minutes) and Favorite Fletch Moments (three minutes). A Theatrical Trailer closes out the standard extras. FLETCH is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

FLETCH is a treat for Chevy Chase fans that has made its way to hi-def. The Blu-ray presentation is an accurate representation of what the majority of comedies from this period looked and sounded like. Recommended.



Fletch [Blu-ray] (1985)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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