DVD Review HTF REVIEW - Fletch: The "Jane Doe" Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Kevin EK, Apr 21, 2007.

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  1. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    Fletch: The “Jane Doe” Edition
    ________________________________________




    FLETCH
    THE “JANE DOE” EDITION

    Studio: Universal
    Film Year: 1985
    Film Length: 98 minutes
    Genre: Comedy

    Aspect Ratio:

    • Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1

    Colour/B&W: Colour

    Audio:
    • English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
    • French Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
    • Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono



    Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
    Film Rating: PG





    Release Date: May 1, 2007.


    Rating: 3/5

    With: Chevy Chase, Joe Don Baker, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Tim Matheson and an appearance by Geena Davis

    Written by: Andrew Bergman From the Novel by Gregory McDonald

    Directed by: Michael Ritchie

    FLETCH is the cinematic equivalent of catching a comedian’s act on a really good night. Chevy Chase has said that he feels it’s his best performance, and he may well be right. There’s nothing overly complicated about the movie – it’s a comedy about an investigative reporter who stumbles across a drug story that somehow connects all the characters we meet throughout the film. However, the drug story itself isn’t the core of the movie. The real fun of the movie comes from watching Chase disguise himself a hundred different ways while still remaining the same person.

    FLETCH is definitely showing its age, from the outmoded fashions and 80’s hair to the Harold Faltermeyer score (fresh from BEVERLY HILLS COP). But the movie is still entertaining and it’s worth a look if you’ve never seen it before. This is the 2nd DVD release for FLETCH. The first was a bare-bones anamorphic transfer, issued in 1998. For the new “Jane Doe” special edition, Universal has remastered the picture, remixed the sound to 5.1 and added a trio of featurettes along with the original trailer.


    VIDEO QUALITY: 3/5

    FLETCH has been digitally remastered for this release, but it’s really hard to tell what work has been done. The print is a bit soft on the colors all the way around. Blacks are solid, but the depth of the other colors presented here is pretty shallow. (To be fair, the color scheme of the film is clearly designed to be sun-drenched with a lot of lighter colors.) There is also some grain evident in the daylight sequences, particularly those at the beach. Flesh tones are fairly accurate throughout – Chase has more of a tan than most of the other actors, but this is probably due to Fletch having spent a lot of time on the beach before the start of the film’s story.


    AUDIO QUALITY: 3/5

    FLETCH is given a 5.1 surround mix for this release, but I really do not hear where this constructively adds to the experience of the film. The music pops up in the surround channels along with some atmospheric effects, but this isn’t a movie that really needs that. The majority of the attention to the sound here winds up in the front speakers, particularly the center, as the focus is usually on Chevy Chase’s ad-libs and one-liners.


    SPECIAL FEATURES: 2/5

    The DVD has French and Spanish 2.0 tracks available although the Spanish track is mono. Subtitles are provided in English, French and Spanish.
    Two featurettes and a brief highlights compilation accompany the original trailer on this disc. All of the features are in English, but are subtitled in English, Spanish and French.

    • Just Charge it to the Underhills: Making and Remembering Fletch – (26:32) DVD producer Jason Hillhouse personally narrates this anamorphic look back at the film. He’s clearly a fan of the movie, having designed his documentary to resemble the style of the film, albeit with himself inserted into the lead role both on camera and in the narration, to the tune of Faltermeyer’s score. This is a sincerely affectionate effort, and there are some nice moments in the interviews with Andrew Bergman, as well as some of the cast and the production team. The problem here is that the key players are not interviewed. Gregory McDonald, the original author of the book, is mentioned but never interviewed. And more crucially, Chevy Chase is completely absent. Hillhouse brings up the latter gap himself on camera, joking “We forgot to interview Chevy Chase… I am so getting fired.”

    • From John Cocktoastin to Harry S. Truman: The Disguises – (4:53) This brief anamorphic featurette showcases interviews with makeup artist Ken Chase and hairstylist Bunny Parker. Chase and Parker discuss the various methods used to change Chase’s look, intercut with footage from the various scenes. The absence of Chase is keenly felt here – as the point of the disguises in the film is that they’re specifically meant to be unconvincing. The idea is that Chase’s character just gets away with all of this due to his personality and luck.

    • Favorite Fletch Moments – (2:37) This is a series of anamorphic highlights of Chevy Chase during the film. I didn’t see much point to this other than as an alternative to the trailer.

    • Theatrical Trailer (1:32) A non-anamorphic full-screen copy of the original trailer from 1985 is included here. If anything, this shows the extent of the restoration work done on the actual print – the trailer shows a lot of scratches and other distress throughout.


    A scene index is provided with 16 chapter stops. When you first put the disc in the player, several trailers for other Universal movies, DVD’s and TV shows will automatically play unless you hit the right button…

    IN THE END...

    FLETCH remains a fun movie to watch, even if it’s showing its age nowadays. If anything, it’s a reminder of what made Chevy Chase so popular in the 70’s and 80’s. And if you haven’t seen the film before, or if you missed the prior edition on DVD, it’s worth your time to check this one out. If you’re looking for a major improvement in terms of picture, sound or documentaries, you may want to rent this first before purchasing it.


    Kevin Koster
    April 21, 2007.
     
  2. Bill GrandPre

    Bill GrandPre Cinematographer

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    Is the missing Maaco line restored?

    From IMDB:

     
  3. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    It's just "uh-oh" on the new DVD. Do you know for a fact that the Maaco line was there originally, or is that just an unverified IMDB claim?
     
  4. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    I just rewatched the car chase sequence, and Colin is correct. After the cop car flips, Fletch just says "Uh oh" and continues happily along. The music track playing at the time is Dan Hartman's "Fletch Get Outta Town", and there is no audible edit - which leads me to think that there is no additional footage to insert.

    BTW, given the way that Fletch loses the cops in the first place, wouldn't it have been a little more prudent to just slow down after they pass and just lose them on an off ramp. Why speed up again and provoke them even more? (On the other hand, the answer is likely to be: Because it's Chevy Chase playing Fletch and he can get away with it...)
     
  5. Bill GrandPre

    Bill GrandPre Cinematographer

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    Yeah I personally don't know if it's an actual edit or if it's one of the many IMDB inaccuracies.
     
  6. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    Just based on the movie, I don't think it looks like anything's been cut. It's not the most elegant edit, but it doesn't look to me as though something was removed or altered. Just my 2 cents!
     
  7. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    One of my favorite Chevy movies. Not as good as the original Vacation but up there with Three Amigos. Fletch is a personal fave of mine due to the fact I was in college during his hey day. Vacation, Fletch, & Amigos were quoted...literally in nearly every conversation. I own the original which looks decent...but would like to get an upgrade if it really is one. Thinking that this is a Universal film, I keep hoping they'll announce a HD DVD version soon. [​IMG]

    Have a nice day,

    Jane Doe
     
  8. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Just got this DVD. Very disappointing to see that Chevy had
    no interest in being any part of this Special Edition as far as
    new supplements are concerned.
     
  9. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Yeah, he's been so busy with other stuff lately. [​IMG]
     
  10. Ron Reda

    Ron Reda Cinematographer

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    I was hoping so too as I watched the previous DVD the other day hoping they'd do a better job with it. It doesn't sound like it so I'll stick with what I've got!
     
  11. MattFini

    MattFini Supporting Actor

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    This is my favorite comedy ever, but it kills me that Chevy is absent from the extras. I think he did some really good commentary tracks on the first two vacation films...its a shame he didn't participate here.

    I'll still get this, just because its a favorite, but considering the wait of this SE, it could've/should've been more...then again, maybe not.
     
  12. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    What's more disappointing to me is the lack of any real image/audio improvement. Hell, the original dvd came in 1999! So this is the best standard def dvd they could do? Arggh [​IMG]
     
  13. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?
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    i have the origional but might pick up the new one for the neato lenticular slip sleave.
     
  14. Jon Martin

    Jon Martin Cinematographer

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    Was he asked? Chase has nothing but good things to say about the film in his new biography, and he was a part of all the VACATION films, even doing a solo commentary for EUROPEAN even though he openly says on the track that he doesn't like it (although by the end, he has changed his mind).
     
  15. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    During the documentary, it ends with the DVD producer claiming he forgot to interview Chase. I assumed this was a joke, but who knows? Maybe there really WAS some catastrophic screw-up...
     
  16. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer
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    I tend to doubt that Jason Hillhouse forgot to interview Chevy Chase. I don't know why Chase didn't participate, but I believe it wasn't for a lack of Hillhouse trying to get to him. I believe Hillhouse put the routine on the end of the documentary to at least acknowledge what was obviously missing from the package.

    As for the picture and sound on this one, the more I've looked at it and thought about it, the more I've concluded that FLETCH isn't really a movie about a great picture or soundtrack. The whole thing rests on the audience's enjoyment of Chevy Chase wisecracking his way through the movie. I believe the photography was intentionally a bit washed out to give the look of "sun drenched LA", so I don't think further restoration would yield much there.
     
  17. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    Yeah, that's my thought. It's a cute way to acknowledge the absence of Chase but not make him look like a jerk, I guess...
     
  18. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    How can one forget to interview the main star? [​IMG]
     
  19. Bill GrandPre

    Bill GrandPre Cinematographer

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    The whole world has pretty much forgotten about "the main star" in this case.
     
  20. James.M

    James.M Stunt Coordinator

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    Got this yesterday.

    The transfer. Initially I thought nothing much had been done with the picture as there was still some heavy grain throughout the film. However when comparing it to the old R1 version the new transfer is vastly superior. Lots more detail and clarity, and no visible dirt at all. I was quite surprised to see just how poor the old DVD was when I put it on afterwards.

    Needless to say, if you're a fan of this film it's worth the upgrade IMO.
     

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