Chase cavorts amusingly through this mystery-comedy as the title character, an investigative reporter who will stop at nothing to get his story. While posing as a bum, Fletch is approached by successful aviation executive Alan Stanwyk (Matheson), who claims to be dying of an incurable illness. He offers the reporter $50,000 to murder him, so that his wife (Wheeler-Nicholson) can collect on an insurance policy. Suspicious, Fletch decides to uncover the true motives behind this scheme. The mystery begins to unravel as our hero works himself through a web of entanglements and intrigue, using various aliases (after the fashion of Cary Grant in CHARADE) to learn that Stanwyk is involved in drug dealing and that his partner in crime is the local police chief (Baker). Fast-paced and witty, this is Chase's best solo venture to date, and will hold almost anyone's attention for its well-edited 98 minutes. Chase underplays his wackier moments to great effect, though he isn't always quite as funny as he thinks he is. (He also isn't the next Cary Grant, which he seems to believe as well.) Ritchie, whose career has had its ups (SMILE, THE CANDIDATE) and downs (THE SURVIVORS), directs with a sure hand. Understandably popular, the film inspired a lesser sequel, FLETCH LIVES.