Tag Archives: Tim Matheson

Fletch (1985, Michael Ritchie)

While Fletch has its technical high lights and Andrew Bergman’s script is strong both in dialogue and structure (though the Chevy-sized plot holes are a tad rampant), the film hinges on star Chevy Chase (not a car) being arrogant, likable, sincere and funny all at once. And Chase manages it. His dry, self-aware narrative even carries the film over those jumbo plot holes.

Another major factor is the supporting cast. For the most part, Fletch has an extraordinary supporting cast, whether it’s someone with five lines (Ralph Seymour) or someone with more (Richard Libertini). Every single performance in the film is excellent with three exceptions. Joe Don Baker and Tim Matheson are both off. Baker’s too obvious and Matheson doesn’t bring any complexity. Oh, I said three. Yeah, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson isn’t excellent, she’s extraordinary. She isn’t actually in the film for many scenes, but she’s a perfect foil for Chase. Fletch wouldn’t work without her either.

As for those technical highlights… director Ritchie immediately grounds Fletch in reality–as Chase investigates drug trafficking–and it lets him layer on the absurdities later. Even when a scene fails, like a lengthy car chase, it’s still technically competent. Fred Schuler’s photography is good, Richard A. Harris’s editing is better. The Harold Faltermeyer score, while distinctive, has its ups and downs.

Fletch has too much bite to be genial; think amiable but still comfortingly cynical. Great small turns from George Wyner and, especially, Geena Davis. Fletch is a fine time.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Michael Ritchie; screenplay by Andrew Bergman, based on the novel by Gregory McDonald; director of photography, Fred Schuler; edited by Richard A. Harris; music by Harold Faltermeyer; production designer, Boris Leven; produced by Alan Greisman and Peter Douglas; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Chevy Chase (Fletch), Joe Don Baker (Chief Jerry Karlin), Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (Gail Stanwyk), Richard Libertini (Frank Walker), Tim Matheson (Alan Stanwyk), M. Emmet Walsh (Dr. Dolan), George Wendt (Fat Sam), Kenneth Mars (Stanton Boyd), Geena Davis (Larry), Bill Henderson (Speaker), William Traylor (Mr. Underhill), George Wyner (Gillet), Tony Longo (Detective #1), Larry Flash Jenkins (Gummy), Ralph Seymour (Creasy), James Avery (Detective #2), Reid Cruickshanks (Sergeant), Bruce French (the pathologist), Burton Gilliam (Bud), David W. Harper (Teenager), Chick Hearn (Himself), Alison La Placa (Pan Am Clerk), Joe Praml (Watchman), William Sanderson (Swarthout), Penny Santon (Velma Stanwyk), Robert Sorrells (Marvin Stanwyk) and Beau Starr (Willy); special appearance by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.


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THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED ON BASP | FLETCH (1985) / FLETCH LIVES (1989).

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The Best Legs in Eighth Grade (1984, Tom Patchett)

The Best Legs in Eighth Grade aired on HBO. Apparently, their original programming has gotten a lot better since the eighties.

It’s difficult to describe Legs. Bruce Feirstein’s script seems to be meant for stage–the biggest surprise isn’t just he’s had a career since, it’s discovering he was an in-demand writer at the time–director Patchett might be suited for a sitcom (but nothing as emotive as a soap) and there are only two (cheap) sets.

Annette O’Toole is responsible for every good moment in Legs, except for one Jim Belushi contributes.

O’Toole has some problems with Patchett’s direction, but she overcomes it. She’s outstanding. Sadly, she’s opposite Tim Matheson, whose performance is indescribably bad. Some of it’s the script, but a lot of it’s Matheson. Kathryn Harrold is tepid as the object of Matheson’s lust. Vincent Bufano, in a tiny part, is strong.

Besides O’Toole, Legs stinks.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Tom Patchett; written by Bruce Feirstein; edited by Ken Denisoff; music by Lee Holdridge; produced by Kenneth Kaufman; released by Home Box Office.

Starring Tim Matheson (Mark Fisher), Annette O’Toole (Rachel Blackstone), Kathryn Harrold (Leslie Gibson), Vincent Bufano (T.C.) and James Belushi (St. Valentine).


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Blind Fury (1989, Phillip Noyce)

I’ve been meaning to see Blind Fury again for twenty-one years or so. For a while, I assumed it would be pretty good (not entirely trusting my opinion at age ten) because Phillip Noyce directed it. Unfortunately, Noyce directs it with all the enthusiasm of a cologne commercial. It’s not like there’s much he could have done with the script though.

The titles crediting Charles Robert Carner as a writer are rather misleading. Blind Fury‘s script seems more like a collection of regurgitated scenes from a very special “A-Team,” or something similarly inane.

Don Burgess’s photography is particularly lifeless. No self-respecting cologne commercial would use him. And J. Peter Robinson’s peppy score–Rutger Hauer’s blind swordsman has an upbeat outlook–is constantly annoying.

There’s some decent acting from Hauer though. Occasionally. His accent is sort of solid. He never exactly betrays it, but there’s definitely something not American about him. He just might be too familiar as European. David A. Simmons’s editing did have me wondering when the stunt men took over for him, so there’s another compliment.

Meg Foster is really good, but they kill her off in her only scene. It’s kind of hilarious how poorly Carner constructs Blind Fury‘s plot. Almost all the engaging action scenes happen in the first forty minutes (including five minutes of titles).

Terry O’Quinn’s solid. It’d have been more interesting with him as a lead.

Brandon Call, as the kid Hauer protects, is really awful.

He fits right in.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Phillip Noyce; screenplay by Charles Robert Carner, based on a story by Carner and a screenplay by Kasahara Ryôzô; director of photography, Don Burgess; edited by David A. Simmons; music by J. Peter Robinson; production designer, Peter Murton; produced by Daniel Grodnik and Tim Matheson; released by TriStar Pictures.

Starring Rutger Hauer (Nick Parker), Terry O’Quinn (Frank Devereaux), Brandon Call (Billy Devereaux), Noble Willingham (MacCready), Lisa Blount (Annie Winchester), Nick Cassavetes (Lyle Pike), Rick Overton (Tector Pike), Randall ‘Tex’ Cobb (Slag), Charles Cooper (Cobb), Meg Foster (Lynn Devereaux) and Shô Kosugi (The Assassin).


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