Confess, Fletch (2022)

confess fletch

I’m weird when it comes to comedies. With some exceptions, I don’t really like straight-up comedies. I find movies and TV shows that throw a million jokes at the wall hoping something will stick rather boring. I want a good story with good characters doing interesting things. I want the comedy to come naturally out of those characters and stories. Make me laugh, but do it without sacrificing your story.

I absolutely loved Fletch (1985) when I was in high school. It does technically have a story, but it is often sacrificed to Chevy Chase’s antics. Those antics won me over, as did a whole lot of very funny dialogue. Truth be told some of that love really came from a youth minister from Arkansas. He loved Fletch more than just about anything and he was constantly quoting it. I thought he was one of the coolest guys in the world and so his love of the film translated into me loving it.

I’ve not actually seen Fletch in many years, probably decades. So I have no idea if I would still find it funny. The movie is based on a book by Gregory MacDonald. I’ve read that plus a couple more in the Fletch series, and quite liked them. But it has been quite a few years since I cracked those pages, too.

That is a long build-up to say I absolutely loved Confess, Fletch. It was and is and forever shall be right up my alley.

Jon Hamm is perfect as IM Fletcher a former investigative reporter “of some repute” who now writes fluff pieces for travel magazines. He returns to Boston after spending several years in Europe to find a dead woman in the living room of the house he’s renting. He spends the rest of the film trying to solve the murder much to the chagrin of the two actual police detectives assigned to the case (Ron Wood, Jr. and Ayden Mayeri).

Along the way, he runs into a cavalcade of interesting characters (played by an incredible cast of actors including Kyle MacLachlan, John Slattery, and Marcia Gay Harden).

Though it involves a murder the stakes are quite low, the suspense light. It feels like a hangout movie where Fletch keeps running into people, says funny things, and tries to solve a murder. Hamm is so good. I was a big fan of Mad Men and it is absolutely astonishing to me that the actor who was so deadly serious in that, is so goofy here (and in many other roles since that show ended.)

Everything about this movie worked for me. It is a delight. It is very silly and full of jokes, but they don’t get in the way of the story. They feel natural to the character of Fletch and everything that is happening. It isn’t really realistic, but it works within the story the film is telling.

The worst part of the film is that the studio that funded it did absolutely nothing to support it. The film opened in theaters with basically no advertisements and now it has been unceremoniously dropped onto Showtime’s streaming service. I won’t say that it would have been a huge hit had it gotten a little support but it would have at least been seen by a few people. As it is I suspect most of you reading this have never even heard of it.

Murder, He Says (1945)

murder he says

The Criterion Channel is featuring a number of lesser-known screwball comedies, and I randomly picked out this one to watch this afternoon.

Fred MacMurray stars as Pete Marshall who works for the Trotter Poll company, which he says is the “same as the Gallup Poll, only we’re not in as much of a hurry.” He’s polling people in rural areas to see how they live in modern life. One day he comes across a redneck family called the Fleagles. Ma Fleagle (Marjorie Main) carries with her a bullwhip which she uses to keep her twin boys Mert and Bert (Peter Whitney) in line and to catch flies. The boys tend to carry shotguns and aren’t afraid to “splatter” folks who come around getting nosey with it.

As it turns out Bonnie Fleagle (Barbara Pepper) robbed a bank some time ago and left $70,000 stashed away somewhere before she got hauled off to jail. She’s not too keen on the rest of the Fleagle clan and has not told any of them where the money is hidden. She did tell Grandma Fleagle the secret, but she ain’t talking.

Grandma is close to dying and her head ain’t screwed on so good so they figure Pete can pretend to be Bonnie’s boyfriend and get the secret out of her. What she tells him is pretty cryptic and doesn’t make much sense, and she’d only tell it to him when the rest of the family was out of earshot.

Just as the family is trying to get the secret out of Pete a woman claiming to be Bonnie shows up. She’s really Helen Walker (Claire Matthews) and she has her own reasons for wanting to get that money.

There is also Mr. Johnson (Porter Hall), Ma Fleagle’s third husband who is a scientist working with some experimental radioactive materials which makes people (and dogs) glow in the dark.

Like all screwball comedies Murder, He Says is very silly. At times it is also very funny, but mostly it stays in the entertaining and silly category. Fred MacMurray is always fun to watch and Marjorie Main is a hoot. The gags come fast, and the plot doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but it is quite enjoyable.

It makes for a perfect Sunday afternoon movie which is just how I watched it.