Fletch Lives (1989)

PG | 95 mins | Comedy | 17 March 1989

Director:

Michael Ritchie

Writer:

Leon Capetanos

Cinematographer:

John McPherson

Production Company:

Universal Pictures
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HISTORY

       The day before the 31 May 1985 theatrical release of Fletch (see entry), plans for a sequel were announced in the 30 May 1985 HR, which stated that the script, then titled Fletch and the Man Who, was already written and a summer 1986 release date was in consideration. Chevy Chase, who played “Fletch” in the original film, was contracted to star in a total of three Fletch films for Universal Pictures and therefore would reprise his role. The screenplay revolved around a “statewide attorney general race.” Andrew Bergman was named as the writer in a 5 Jul 1985 NYT article, but received no onscreen credit.
       Filming was delayed, and a 27 May 1987 Var item noted that Chevy Chase’s newly formed independent production company, Cornelius Productions, was in talks with Leon Capetanos to write a new script, then referred to as Fletch II, based on an earlier draft by Walter Bernstein. Neither Cornelius Productions nor Bernstein received onscreen credit. When the premise for the sequel was moved from the political arena to a story involving a corrupt televangelist, the title was changed to Fletch – Saved, as noted in a 1 Dec 1988 DV brief, but Universal changed the title once again to avoid offending religious moviegoers after controversy over the studio’s 1988 release, The Last Temptation of Christ (see entry).
       A 4 Apr 1988 DV brief announced that the project received a green light from Universal, with Michael Ritchie set to direct. Principal photography began 6 Jun 1988, according to 12 Jul ... More Less

       The day before the 31 May 1985 theatrical release of Fletch (see entry), plans for a sequel were announced in the 30 May 1985 HR, which stated that the script, then titled Fletch and the Man Who, was already written and a summer 1986 release date was in consideration. Chevy Chase, who played “Fletch” in the original film, was contracted to star in a total of three Fletch films for Universal Pictures and therefore would reprise his role. The screenplay revolved around a “statewide attorney general race.” Andrew Bergman was named as the writer in a 5 Jul 1985 NYT article, but received no onscreen credit.
       Filming was delayed, and a 27 May 1987 Var item noted that Chevy Chase’s newly formed independent production company, Cornelius Productions, was in talks with Leon Capetanos to write a new script, then referred to as Fletch II, based on an earlier draft by Walter Bernstein. Neither Cornelius Productions nor Bernstein received onscreen credit. When the premise for the sequel was moved from the political arena to a story involving a corrupt televangelist, the title was changed to Fletch – Saved, as noted in a 1 Dec 1988 DV brief, but Universal changed the title once again to avoid offending religious moviegoers after controversy over the studio’s 1988 release, The Last Temptation of Christ (see entry).
       A 4 Apr 1988 DV brief announced that the project received a green light from Universal, with Michael Ritchie set to direct. Principal photography began 6 Jun 1988, according to 12 Jul 1988 HR production charts. Location filming took place in Louisiana, where Rosewood Manor, a landmark plantation home in Brittany, LA, stood in for the home of “Ham Johnson,” as stated in production notes in AMPAS library files. Filming also took place at Kaufman Astoria Studios in New York City and at Universal City Studios in Universal City, CA, as noted in end credits.
       A 10 Apr 1989 People item quoted Chevy Chase as saying he “hated” dressing up as a woman for one of his disguises in the film and fought Universal to remove the scenes showing the actor in a maid’s uniform and wig. At 6’4,” Chase claimed he was too tall to resemble a woman, but despite his resistance, the scenes were kept in based on preview reactions.
       A 26 Mar 1989 LAT brief noted that Universal obtained rights from Walt Disney Pictures to use the Academy-Award-winning song “Zip-a-dee Doo-Dah” from Song of the South (1946, see entry) for a very low price, rumored to be around $200. Co-producer Peter Douglas stated that the final cost was actually a four-figure number, but still only ten percent of what had been budgeted. The musical sequence based around the song entailed over 1,000 extras recruited from Louisiana dance companies and community organizations.

      End credits include the following: “The producers wish to thank: Newsday, Wang Lab, Inc., Dancing Waters, Inc.”; and, “Filmed, in part, in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, Kaufman Astoria Studios and Universal City Studios.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Oct 1988.
---
Daily Variety
4 Apr 1988.
---
Daily Variety
1 Dec 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 May 1985
p. 1, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jul 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Mar 1989
p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
26 Mar 1989
Calendar, p. 33.
New York Times
5 Jul 1985
Section C, p. 6.
New York Times
17 Mar 1989
p. 17.
People
10 Apr 1989.
---
Variety
27 May 1987.
---
Variety
15 Mar 1989
p. 13.
Variety
22 Mar 1989.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
a Douglas/Greisman production
a Michael Ritchie film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d 2d asst dir
DGA trainee
Unit prod mgr, Eastern unit
2d 2d asst dir, Eastern unit
DGA trainee, Eastern unit
Unit prod mgr, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Best boy
Rigging gaffer
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
Video supv
Video eng
Cam op, Eastern unit
Cam op, Eastern unit
1st asst cam, Eastern unit
1st asst cam, Eastern unit
2d asst cam, Eastern unit
2d asst cam, Eastern unit
Cam trainee, Eastern unit
Still photog, Eastern unit
Gaffer, Eastern unit
Best boy, Eastern unit
Elec, Eastern unit
Key grip, Eastern unit
Dolly grip, Eastern unit
Grip, Eastern unit
Video, Eastern unit
Video, Eastern unit
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
Gaffer, 2d unit
Grip, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Visual consultant
Art dir
Art dir
Asst art dir, Eastern unit
Art dept coord, Eastern unit
Art dept liaison, Louisiana unit
Art dept prod asst, Louisiana unit
Art dept prod asst, Louisiana unit
Art dept prod asst, Louisiana unit
Art dept prod asst, Louisiana unit
Art dept prod asst, Louisiana unit
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Prop master
Prop master
Asst props
Asst props
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Paint supv
Greensman
Greensman
Plasterer
Const coord
Const foreman
Const carpenter
Const carpenter
Const labor foreman
Const labor foreman
Const paint foreman
Set dec, Eastern unit
Set dresser, Eastern unit
Props, Eastern unit
Props, Eastern unit
Master scenic artist, Eastern unit
Scenic artist, Eastern unit
Stand-by scenic, Eastern unit
Scenic shop coord, Eastern unit
Head carpenter, Eastern unit
Head const grip, Eastern unit
Const coord, Louisiana unit
Const foreman, Louisiana unit
Const foreman, Louisiana unit
COSTUMES
Asst cost des
Costumer
Costumer
Cost supv, Eastern unit
Costumer, Eastern unit
Costumer, Eastern unit
Ward asst, Louisiana unit
Ward asst, Louisiana unit
Ward asst, Louisiana unit
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus mixer
SOUND
Sd mixer
Cableman
Supv sd ed
Supv re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd ed
ADR ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Apprentice sd ed
Foley by
ADR mixer
ADR rec
Sd mixer, Eastern unit
Rec, Eastern unit
Boom op, Eastern unit
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles and opticals
Spec eff, Eastern unit
Visual eff by
Visual eff, Boss Film Corporation
Visual eff, Boss Film Corporation
Visual eff, Boss Film Corporation
Visual eff, Boss Film Corporation
Visual eff, Boss Film Corporation
Visual eff, Boss Film Corporation
Visual eff, Boss Film Corporation
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Spec makeup created by
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
Makeup, Eastern unit
Hair stylist, Eastern unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Prod coord
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Accounting clerk
Asst to Mr. Ritchie
Asst to Mr. Larson
Asst to Mr. Greisman
Asst to Mr. Douglas
Asst to Mr. Bodner
Asst to Mr. Chase
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Casting asst
Voice casting
Craft service
Animal trainer
First aid
Caterer
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Loc mgr, Eastern unit
Asst loc mgr, Eastern unit
Asst loc mgr, Eastern unit
Prod coord, Eastern unit
Prod secy, Eastern unit
Prod secy, Eastern unit
Loc accountant, Eastern unit
Asst acccountant, Eastern unit
Accounting clerk, Eastern unit
Scr supv, Eastern unit
Casting consultant, Eastern unit
Extras casting, Eastern unit
Extras casting assoc, Eastern unit
Teamster capt, Eastern unit
Prod asst, Eastern unit
Prod asst, Eastern unit
Prod asst, Eastern unit
Prod asst, Eastern unit
Prod asst, Eastern unit
Prod asst, Eastern unit
Prod asst, Eastern unit
Louisiana liaison, Louisiana unit
Prod secy, Louisiana unit
Prod office asst, Louisiana unit
Accounting clerk, Louisiana unit
Asst loc mgr, Louisiana unit
Asst loc mgr, Louisiana unit
Prod asst, Louisiana unit
Prod asst, Louisiana unit
Prod asst, Louisiana unit
Loc projectionist, Louisiana unit
Loc casting, Louisiana unit
Casting asst, Louisiana unit
Transportation co-capt, Louisiana unit
Prod coord, 2d unit
Scr supv, 2d unit
Transportation capt, 2d unit
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on characters created by Gregory Mcdonald.
SONGS
"Ain't No Use Baby," written by Stanley Dural, performed by Buckwheat Zydeco, courtesy of Master-Trak Enterprises
"Bim Bam Thank You Mam," written by Stanley Dural, performed by Buckwheat Zydeco, courtesy of Master-Trak Enterprises
"Buckwheat's Special," written by Stanley Dural, performed by Buckwheat Zydeco, courtesy of Master-Trak Enterprises
+
SONGS
"Ain't No Use Baby," written by Stanley Dural, performed by Buckwheat Zydeco, courtesy of Master-Trak Enterprises
"Bim Bam Thank You Mam," written by Stanley Dural, performed by Buckwheat Zydeco, courtesy of Master-Trak Enterprises
"Buckwheat's Special," written by Stanley Dural, performed by Buckwheat Zydeco, courtesy of Master-Trak Enterprises
"Hard Times," written by Stanley Dural, performed by Buckwheat Zydeco, courtesy of Master-Trak Enterprises
"1-4 Zydeco," written by Stanley Dural, performed by Buckwheat Zydeco, courtesy of Master-Trak Enterprises
"Uptown Zydeco," written by Stanley Dural, performed by Buckwheat Zydeco, courtesy of Master-Trak Enterprises
"Zydeco Rock," written by Stanley Dural, performed by Buckwheat Zydeco, courtesy of Master-Trak Enterprises
"Make A Change," written by Stanley Dural, performed by Buckwheat Zydeco, courtesy of Island Records, Inc.
+
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Fletch and the Man Who
Fletch II
Fletch - Saved
Release Date:
17 March 1989
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 17 March 1989
Production Date:
began 6 June 1988 in Louisiana, New York, and Los Angeles
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
17 April 1989
Copyright Number:
PA415437
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo in selected theatres
Color
Lenses
Panaflex® camera and lenses by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
95
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29599
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Turning in an exposé on a Greek crime syndicate, wisecracking newspaper reporter Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher tells his boss, Frank, that he is going on a long-anticipated vacation, but Frank insists he postpone the holiday to report on a sewage scandal. Fletch returns home to find Marvin Gillet, his ex-wife’s lawyer, who has come to collect an overdue alimony payment. Fletch destroys the contents of Gillet’s briefcase with water and sends him away. Back at work, Fletch receives a phone call from Amanda Ray Ross, a lawyer who represents his Aunt Belle Fletcher’s estate. Amanda reports that Belle has died and left her eighty-acre plantation in Thibodaux, Louisiana, Belle Isle, to Fletch. Thrilled, Fletch quits his job and boards an airplane. On the flight, he dreams about running an antebellum-style plantation, but when he arrives, Amanda Ray Ross escorts him to the dilapidated property and Fletch’s hopes are dashed. She invites him to her house for dinner, explains that his aunt only added him to her will three weeks before her death, and informs him there is an offer on the property. Amanda seduces Fletch after dinner and he spends the night, but does not stir when an intruder sneaks into her bedroom and injects her with a lethal drug. In the morning, Fletch finds Amanda dead and calls the police, who arrest him on suspicion of murder. Fletch is forced to share a jail cell with Ben Dover, a sexual deviant who tries to rape him. However, Dover is interrupted when lawyer Hamilton “Ham” Johnson arrives. Fletch hires Ham to represent him, and is released from jail due to insufficient evidence. Giving Fletch a ride home, Ham points out ... +


Turning in an exposé on a Greek crime syndicate, wisecracking newspaper reporter Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher tells his boss, Frank, that he is going on a long-anticipated vacation, but Frank insists he postpone the holiday to report on a sewage scandal. Fletch returns home to find Marvin Gillet, his ex-wife’s lawyer, who has come to collect an overdue alimony payment. Fletch destroys the contents of Gillet’s briefcase with water and sends him away. Back at work, Fletch receives a phone call from Amanda Ray Ross, a lawyer who represents his Aunt Belle Fletcher’s estate. Amanda reports that Belle has died and left her eighty-acre plantation in Thibodaux, Louisiana, Belle Isle, to Fletch. Thrilled, Fletch quits his job and boards an airplane. On the flight, he dreams about running an antebellum-style plantation, but when he arrives, Amanda Ray Ross escorts him to the dilapidated property and Fletch’s hopes are dashed. She invites him to her house for dinner, explains that his aunt only added him to her will three weeks before her death, and informs him there is an offer on the property. Amanda seduces Fletch after dinner and he spends the night, but does not stir when an intruder sneaks into her bedroom and injects her with a lethal drug. In the morning, Fletch finds Amanda dead and calls the police, who arrest him on suspicion of murder. Fletch is forced to share a jail cell with Ben Dover, a sexual deviant who tries to rape him. However, Dover is interrupted when lawyer Hamilton “Ham” Johnson arrives. Fletch hires Ham to represent him, and is released from jail due to insufficient evidence. Giving Fletch a ride home, Ham points out his own property near Belle Isle which backs up to a noisy, religious theme park called Bible Land. That night, a group of hapless Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members arrive to protest the presence of a “Yankee” in Thibodaux, but Fletch, who has a penchant for disguises, infiltrates the group as a KKK member named “Hank Himmler,” and Belle Isle’s plantation hand, Calculus Enterby, scares them off with gunshots. The next day, Becky Ann Culpepper from Thibodaux Realty stops by Belle Isle to tell Fletch about a $250,000 offer on the property from a confidential client. Fletch flirts with her and suggests he will consider it. Later, he breaks into Amanda’s office, disguised as an exterminator. Searching the files, he discovers that his aunt previously named the Farnsworth Ministry as heir to her estate before willing her property to Fletch. A policeman interrupts and Fletch identifies himself as “Billy Jean King” of Bug Busters, convincing the officer that the building is infested with deadly African termites. Back at the plantation, Fletch asks Calculus about the Farnsworth Ministry, and Calculus shows him evangelistic preacher Jimmy Lee Farnsworth’s television show. On the program, Farnsworth asks for donations for the Bible Land theme park, which he owns. Fletch attends a taping of Farnsworth’s show, and the preacher receives a tip, via his hidden earpiece, that Fletch has just inherited Belle Isle. Preying on audience members who have a lot of money, Farnsworth calls Fletch to the stage and encourages him to confess his sins. Later, Fletch joins the televangelist on a tour of Bible Land. The next day, he relates the experience to Ham, who laments that his own mother was bamboozled into donating some of her property to Bible Land before her death. Suspecting Farnsworth was involved, Ham reports that Fletch’s murder charges have been dropped and warns Fletch against making any promises to the televangelist. Amanda’s autopsy reveals that she died of heart failure, but Fletch employs the help of Calculus to break into the morgue and investigate further. He poses as a corpse and Calculus wheels him in past the attendant, Fletch’s former cell mate Ben Dover, who steals Fletch’s Los Angeles Lakers watch from his seemingly lifeless “corpse.” Amanda’s file at the morgue reveals no helpful information, and the men return to Belle Isle to find it burning to the ground. They go to a soul food restaurant and run into Tom Barbour, a local hunter who insists Fletch accompany him on a raccoon hunt at Belle Isle. Fletch takes the opportunity to survey his property and steps into a strange, gooey substance. An assailant shoots at him but misses. The man chases Fletch, and they struggle, but a gunshot scares the attacker away. Fletch finds his Lakers watch on the ground and realizes the assailant was Ben Dover. In the morning, Fletch smells toxic fumes coming from his shoes and calls his old boss, Frank, for help. He sends Frank his sneakers for lab analysis, and asks for a background check on Farnsworth. Frank reports that the televangelist was once a used car salesman, has a criminal record for embezzlement, and may be under federal investigation. Fletch learns that Becky Ann Culpepper is actually the daughter of Farnsworth. He informs her of his suspicions that Farnsworth is trying to kill him and demands to know the identity of the client who made the offer on Belle Isle. Becky responds that the client rescinded the offer, but does not reveal the name. Disguised as a “healer” named “Claude Henry Smoot,” Fletch infiltrates the backstage area of Farnsworth’s television show and hacks into a computer to find the name of the company, Everest Development, behind the Belle Isle offer. He also finds plans for Bible Land 2, an expansion of the theme park which encompasses Belle Isle and the remainder of Ham’s property. Later, Becky joins Fletch as he stakes out the morgue. They follow Ben Dover to a biker bar, and Fletch dons another disguise as “Ed Harley,” heir to Harley-Davidson motorcycles. He convinces the bikers to join him for a ride, borrowing one of their motorcycles and taking Becky as his passenger. On the ride, Ben notices Fletch’s fake moustache coming off, and chases after him. Fletch and Becky narrowly escape and return to her home, where they kiss. Fletch calls Frank and discovers that the toxic substance he stepped in is manufactured in Yazoo, Mississippi. He travels to the chemical plant and poses as “Elmer Fudd Gantry” from Everest Development in order to steal paperwork that reveals Ham is behind Everest. That evening, Fletch crashes an antebellum costume party at Ham’s home, disguised as “Bobby Lee Swartz, II,” and confronts Ham about Everest Development. Ham leads Fletch to his dead mother’s bedroom, holding him at gunpoint. Ben Dover, Ham’s henchman, arrives with Becky, and Ham instructs Ben to kill them both. However, Fletch breaks a framed photograph of Ham’s mother, prompting the lawyer to break down in tears. Ham reveals his scheme to turn both his property and Belle Isle into a toxic waste dump to avenge Farnsworth for swindling his mother. Fletch tosses the urn full of his mother’s ashes and escapes to neighboring Bible Land with Becky. They run to the set of Farnsworth’s show, but Ham follows and aims his gun at Fletch onstage. Before he pulls the trigger, Calculus appears, announces himself as a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent, and shoots Ham when he does not drop his gun. Outside, Fletch questions Calculus, who reveals he has been investigating Farnsworth. Fletch brings Becky back to Los Angeles with him when he returns to his job at the newspaper. At an office party in his honor, Fletch boasts about a $100,000 check he received as an insurance payment from the fire at Belle Isle. He is interrupted by Marvin Gillet, who demands that Fletch sign over half of Belle Isle to his ex-wife. Aware the property is ridden with chemical waste, Fletch happily signs the paperwork. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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