When I saw the movie “Fletch” for the first time, I loved it. I dug Chevy Chase, and I loved the idea of the investigative reporter who is a) hilarious, and b) challenging to authority. Oh, and he got the chicks.
When a friend pointed out that the movie was based on a book, in a series of books, I knew I had to read it. This wasn’t a novelization of the movie, made after the fact, a hack attempt to cash in. The character of Irving M. “Fletch” Fletcher started on the page, in the mind of Gregory Mcdonald. And so I read “Fletch”.
And then I read “Confess, Fletch”. And then I read “Fletch’s Fortune”. And then I read “Fletch and the Widow Bradley”… and on and on.
And as much as I loved Chevy Chase’s take on the character, I realized that Mcdonald’s written version of the character wasn’t the same at all. On the page, Fletch was more vulnerable and somehow, more charming. Chase’s Fletch stumbled sometimes but he was always the master of the situation. In the books, we had access to Fletch’s thoughts and feelings, and it gave me more insight into the mind of a caring con man, a schemer for justice, if you will.
And it was all done through Mcdonald’s marvelous dialogue. Real, funny, and it always drove the plot and defined the characters.
Which is all to say that I’m going to miss Gregory Mcdonald. I didn’t know much about him as a person, but I loved the stories he told and characters he created. He was an inspiration to me.