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Latter-day Saint (Mormon)
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Fletch (1985)

"Fletch" (1985)
Directed by Michael Ritchie
Screenplay by Andrew Bergman
Based on the novel by Gregory Mcdonald

Starring: Chevy Chase, Joe Don Baker, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Richard Libertini, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Matheson, M. Emmet Walsh, George Wendt, Kenneth Mars, Geena Davis

MPAA Rating: PG
U.S. Box Office: $46,700,000

In this popular 1980s comedy, "Saturday Night Live" alum Chevy Chase stars as "Fletch," an investigative reporter for a Los Angeles newspaper. The film's primary antagonist ("villain") is a pilot and airline executive named Alan Stanwyk. Stanwyk is a non-churchgoing Latter-day Saint from Provo, Utah. It is eventually revealed that Stanwyk has two wives. The impetus for Stanwyk's plot (which is what Fletch spends the entire film investigating) is Stanwyk's desire to scam $3 million from his wife in Los Angeles so he can take his Utah wife to Brazil with him and start a new life.

"Alan Stanwyk" is played by actor Tim Matheson, who has 6th billing on the movie poster. (Matheson's role was actually much bigger than that played by 5th-billed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who had only a cameo appearance. But Abdul-Jabbar was more famous as a basketball player than Matheson was as an actor.)

Although "Fletch" features multiple spoken and visual references to Latter-day Saints (Mormons), it is never explicitly stated in the film that Alan Stanwyk is a Mormon. However, this implication is clear for many reasons, primary among them being the fact that he is from Provo, Utah and the fact that he is a bigamist. Actual members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do not, of course, practice bigamy or any form of polygamy. To do so would result in automatic excommunication from the Church. But ever since the medium of film was invented, movies have often depicted Latter-day Saints as polygamists or made jokes about Utah and polygamy, even though the practice was abolished by the Church around the turn of the century (at least 80 years before the release of "Fletch.") In the movie, the fact that Stanwyk is married to two women simultaneously is known only to him (until Fletch investigates).

The bigamy aspect of Stanwyk's criminal plot is the film's final big plot revelation, and it is key to the plot of the entire film. The Alan Stanwyk character was conceived as a bigamist before any Utah/Mormon aspects were ever introduced into the story. In fact, in the novel by Massachusetts native Gregory Mcdonald, Alan Stanwyk and his first wife Sally Ann Cavanaugh are from Pennsylvania.

In adapting the novel, screenwriter Andrew Bergman (a New York City native) changed Stanwyk's hometown to Provo, Utah. The choice of a Utah hometown is not a coincidence. Utah was selected specifically because of the former practice of polygamy. Perhaps the screenwriter thought this would be funnier, more cinematic or somehow more appropriate. The screenwriter may have made this change in order to add what he considered texture and rationale to the character. Regardless of the specific reasons for this change, this choice led to there being extensive references to Utah throughout the film, and two trips made by Fletch to Utah.

The movie begins with Fletch in the guise of a aimless druggie, hanging out on the beach. Fletch is working on a story for his newspaper about the illegal drug traffic on the beach. Unexpectedly, Fletch is approached by a well-dressed, clearly wealthy man: airline executive Alan Stanwyk. The man offers Fletch $1,000 just to go to his house and listen to a offer. He assures Fletch that his proposal is not of a sexual nature.

After Fletch and Stanwyk drive to Stanwyk's mansion, they talk in Stanwyk's study. Stanwyk offers Fletch $50,000 in cash: ostensibly to kill him so Stanwyk can avoid a painful cancer death and so Stanwyk's wife Gail can collect insurance. Stanwyk tells Fletch that he will leave a gun in the desk drawer, and the money in the open safe. All Fletch needs to do is come by at the appointed time a few days hence, shoot Stanwyk dead, take the money, and use pre-arranged airline tickets to start a new life abroad. Fletch does not know it at the time, but Stanwyk, the film's primary villain, is actually planning to kill Fletch.

Fletch realizes that he has stumbled upon a potentially great investigative news story. Why would a wealthy man who appears to be in excellent health hire a stranger to kill him? Fletch decides to check into Stanwyk, to find out if the man is telling him the truth. The rest of the film is comprised of Fletch's investigation.

Fletch eventually makes two trips to Provo, Utah, which is where Stanwyk is from, and eventually learns that Stanwyk has a wife in Utah in addition to Gail, his wife in Los Angeles. Stanwyk's plan is to assume Fletch's identity and go to Brazil to start a new life with his Utah wife.

Transcripts of scenes with Utah and/or Latter-day Saint references

13 minutes, 50 seconds after start of film:

[Fletch (Chevy Chase) and "Larry" or "Larr" (Geena Davis) are using a microfilm reader in the offices of the Los Angeles area newspaper where they work. They are looking for articles about Alan Stanwyk.]

Larry (Geena Davis): Everything's recent.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Stop. Let me see that.

[Reading an article from the screen of a microfilm/microfiche reader. The headline reads: "Alan Stanwyk New V/P Boyd Aviation." Above the article is a large photo of Alan Stanwyk (Tim Matheson), over the caption, "Alan Stanwyk, 32, youngest aviation Senior Executive in the industry."]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): "Alan Stanwyk, commercial airline pilot... from Provo, Utah." Hmn. Formerly a test pilot, member of the Jaycees.

Larry (Geena Davis): Can we move on?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Yeah.

[Scrolling to a new article on the microfilm reader. The headline reads "Gail Boyd Wed to Alan Stanwyk"]

Larry (Geena Davis): Married Boyd Aviation. He's no dummy. That's big bucks.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Mr. Stanwyk's parents Marvin and Velma, of Provo, "were unable to attend the wedding." [Sarcastically] Those are three names I enjoy: Marvin, Velma and Provo.

[Scrolling to a new article on the microfilm reader. The headline reads "Cancer Society Benefit." Above the article is a photograph over the caption: "Alan Stanwyk, prominent aviation executive shown here with his wife Gail and his internist and wife, Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Dolan: all prominent sponsors of Tuesday's Benefit Ball at the Hilton which raised over $630,000 for the Cancer Society."]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Hold it there. That's good. Cancer. "Cancer Society Benefit"... "Internist Dr. Joseph Dolan"... "with internist Dr. Joseph Dolan." I wonder if that's his doctor.

Larry (Geena Davis): One way to find out.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Yeah, there is one way to find out.

[End of scene.]

25 minutes, 40 seconds after start of film:

[On a tennis court at the private club to which the Stanwyks belong.]

Gail Stanwyk (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson): You know, I must be having an off day. I'm usually a fabulous player.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Well, I have this effect on a lot of women.

Gail: I bet you do.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): You know, the reason I was asking about, uh, Alan is that I bumped into him this morning and... You know what I can't figure out?

Gail: [Realizing that Fletch, a man she only just met here on the tennis court, is lying to her.] Alan's in Utah.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): I can't figure... [Realizing that he has been caught in a lie.] ...out what I was doing in Utah this morning.

Gail: [Smiling good-naturedly.] I'm very flattered, but I'm also very married. You are trying to hit on me, aren't you?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): How did you guess? ...I'm such a heal. I don't... I don't know what came over me.

Gail: If I had a nickel for every one of Alan's flyboy buddies who tried to pick me up... I'd be a rich woman.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): You are... a rich woman.

Gail: See what I mean? [Walks away, smiling.]

[End of scene.]

[Cut to new scene, in the office of Stanton Boyd, Gail's father (Alan Stanwyk's father-in-law), the wealthy chairman of Boyd Aviation. Fletch is wearing large glasses and a nerdy suit, complete with a red bow tie with white polkadots. He has tissue stuffed into his nose. In order to obtain more information for his investigation, he is posing as a government investigator.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): The vice president knew I was opening the door, but the Secret Service-- They-- Whack! And blood! [Chuckles.] Washington.

[Stanton Boyd, obviously a wealthy and powerful man, stares impatiently at Fletch.]

Madeline Turner/Secretary (Mary Battilana): Sugar, Mr. Poon? [Offering coffee on a tray to Fletch.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): No, never, never. [Picks up a glass of coffee.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): [to Stanton Boyd] Well, now, let me reiterate that this is not a formal investigation. That is, if Alan Stanwyk isn't involved in any improprieties--

Stanton Boyd (Kenneth Mars): Alan Stanwyk is NOT involved in any improprieties. I don't know how the S.E.C. comes off even making such an accusation.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Now, you know that, and I know that... but somebody's bucking for a promotion. It's probably that pederast Hanrahan. I don't know. All I know is if I don't go back with something you and your son-in-law are gonna be the scapegoats of the week.

Stanton Boyd: Unbelievable. This is unbelievable.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Look at this. They even want to know what he's doing in Utah. Utah.

Stanton Boyd: Oh. Jesus H. Christ on a popsicle stick. First of all... Alan Stanwyk does not own one single share of stock. The three million dollars for the ranch in Provo was entirely provided by my daughter who converted some of her personal holdings, not corporate holdings, personal holdings. So... If any of your D.C. boys want to make something out of that, bring 'em on. Otherwise, you tell your commission to get the hell out of my face.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): God, I admire you... Well, consider this case closed. [Pulling tissue out of his nose.] It stopped bleeding. Isn't that something.

Stanton Boyd: My pleasure.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Well, thank you and good day.

Stanton Boyd: Oh, by the way... What kind of a name is Poon?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Commanche Indian. Good-bye.

[Fletch walks out of Stanton Boyd's office and walks past Mr. Boyd's secretary.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Oh, Madeline, Frieda lost the number for Alan's realtor in Provo, Utah. Could you get me that real quick, please?

Madeline: Jim Swarthout?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Yeah.

Madeline: I'm sorry. Who are you again?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): I'm Frieda's boss.

Madeline: [Handing Fletch a piece of paper with the number he wants written on it.] Who's Frieda?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): My secretary.

[End of scene.]

33 minutes, 13 seconds after start of film:

[Fletch is using a pay phone on the beach to call his co-worker at the newspaper.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Larr, it's me. Listen, see if you've got anything on Stanwyk from the time he used to live in Utah... Yeah. And also check out a realtor in Provo. His name is Swarthout.

35 minutes, 9 seconds after start of film:

[Fletch is standing in the office of his newspaper editor, Frank Walker. They are discussing the story that Fletch was working on before he started investigating Alan Stanwyk. Larry (Geena Davis) knocks on the window and points to Fletch.]

Frank Walker (Richard Libertini): What? What do you want? Don't point. Speak!

Larry (Geena Davis): [Opens the office door. Enters the room.] I need Fletch for a second.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): She needs me.

Larry (Geena Davis): [Whispering only to Fletch.] Nothing on Utah or Jim Swarthout.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Yeah, I know, honey. We have to put this on the back burner right now.

Frank: Uh, you wanna give me just a little hint?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): All right, Frank. There just may be some cops involved in all this. [Fletch is referring to the story he is supposed to be working on about illegal drug trafficking on the beach.]

Larry (Geena Davis): Did you say cops?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Yeah.

Larry (Geena Davis): Cuz that's the one thing I did find. It's from last month, so it was in the unsorted pile.

[Frank and Fletch look at the article that Larry (Geena Davis) shows them. The headline reads: "Alan Stanwyk joins Citizen's Committee." Above the article is a photo, with the caption: "The city's industrial leaders welcomed the anticipation of aviation executive Alan Stanwyk last night to head the newly-formed Citizen's Police Advisory Board.]

Frank: What's this?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): More cops. Frank, I need to go to Utah.

Frank: Utah??

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Yeah, Utah. It's wedged in between Wyoming and Nevada. You've seen pictures.

Frank: What about finding the source? [Referring to the story Fletch is supposed to be working on about the drug trade on the beach.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): I have some ideas.

Frank: Hmm.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Come on, Frank. Say yes. I'll buy you some new deoderant.

Frank: Go to transportation. Get a ticket.

Larry (Geena Davis): My hero.

Frank: Nothing to it.

[Cut to scene on board an airplane. Fletch is flying to Utah. Fletch speaks into a tape recorder. He has a few lines in which he ponders some of the questions he has about this case.]

36 minutes, 43 seconds after the start of the film, the airplane Fletch is on lands at Salt Lake City International Airport. This begins a five-minute-long section of the film that takes place in Utah, primarily in Provo.

Some of the film's scenes really were filmed in Utah. When the airplane lands, the state Capitol building, the Salt Lake Temple and the Church Office Building (headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) can be seen in the background.

Fletch drives from Salt Lake City to Provo, Utah. He checks into the Mountain View hotel. He calls Swarthout Realty and uses a ruse to find out that the realtor is about ready to leave for the evening and won't be back until morning.

Fletch then drives to the Swarthout Realty office. A fierce guard dog is in the fenced yard outside the real estate office, but Fletch manages to sneak past the loudly barking dog and get into the real estate office. Fletch goes through files, and takes photographs of a file pertaining to the purchase of ranch land in Utah, for which $3,000 was paid. Upon seeing this, Fletch doubtlessly recalls that Alan Stanwyk's father-in-law mentioned that Alan and his wife Gail paid $3 million for ranch land in Utah.

While Fletch was in the real estate office, the guard dog was barking continually at Fletch through the window. The dog rears back, jumps through the glass window, intent on attacking Fletch. The dog chases Fletch through the small office building (really a house converted to a small office). Fletch leaves the building and gets into his car. The dog jumps on top of his car. Fletch tells the dog, "Look! Defenseless babies," pointing behind him. The dog looks away and Fletch drives away. Fletch jokes that the dog fell for the oldest trick in the book.

At 41 minutes, 37 seconds after the start of the film, an airplane is shown taking off from an airport in Utah. This is Fletch's flight home from Utah. This section of scenes in Utah was 5 minutes long.

49 minutes, 34 seconds after start of film:

[Fletch is in an airplane hanger belonging to Boyd Aviation, in the Los Angeles area. He is posing as a technician who has come to assist one some repair work. He is looking inside the small airplane (a Cessna) that Alan Stanwyk uses as his personal aircraft. Two Boyd Aviation airplane technicians are present: "Bud" (played by Burton Gilliam) and "Willy" (Beau Starr).]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Looks well-used.

Technician Willy (Beau Starr): Goes back and forth to Utah every weekend.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Oh is that right? What, is he a Mormon?

Technician Bud (Burton Gilliam): Ha ha! [Laughs loudly.]

Technician Willy: [Laughs.]

Technician Bud: I don't think he's doing a whole lot of singing with the Tabernacle Choir.

Technician Willy: These executives, they live high. You know what I mean?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): I sure do.

[Long pause. Willy knows that Fletch is lying about who he is.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Ah, that's a terrific wing. I love this shape.

[Willy decides to test Fletch's knowledge of airplane mechanics, to confirm his suspicion that Fletch is not really who he says he is.]

Technician Willy: Hey, do us a favor, pal.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Name's Liddy. Gordon Liddy.

Technician Willy: Gord, take a look at the seventh Fetzer valve, will you. I think it's been sticking.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): [Nods.] Probably the humidity.

Technician Bud: [Laughs.] That's funny. No, what I think it is myself is the, uh, by-pass line.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): It could be the by-pass line. Yeah. Maybe I should take a look at it.

[Nobody moves to assist Fletch. Fletch walks resolutely to the front of the airplane and lifts up an unlocked panel on the nose of the plane. It opens to reveal a storage area for luggage, clearly not where any sort of by-pass line might be found. Willy watches him closey.]

Technician Bud: Uh, Gordo? [Bud is still standing near the back of the airplane. He points to a spot near himself.] Back here.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Don't tell me my business, boy! Just checking the luggage. Somebody ought to clean these windows. There is a tremendous build up of gook all over them. [Rubs his hand on the outside of a cockpit window.] Look at that. [Walking to the back of the plane.] You use a lot of fuel to go to Utah?

Technician Bud: That's what I always ask.

Technician Willy: Burns enough to go to South America and back.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): South America and back? Huh? Is that right?

Technician Bud: Yeah. But I always kid him about it. I say, "What are you doing up there? You doing some stunt flying or something?" [Laughs.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): [Laughs.] What's he say?

Technician Bud: Well, you know. He don't say nothing. He just gives me that look. You know, he's got that look. [Tries to contort his face into "that look."]

Technician Willy: Yeah, he don't say nothing. He just gives him that look.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Well, sure, he's the boss. Here, let me take a crack at this Fetzer, here. [Climbs on a small ladder to look some exposed airplane parts on the top of the plane.]

Technician Bud: Uh, Gord. [Points to a spot on the bottom of the plane.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Yeah, I know where it is. I'm just getting a bird's eye view, here... and, uh... Oh, ho ho ho.

Technician Willy: What do you think? It's the by-pass line, right?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): I think it's the by-pass line, yeah.

Technician Bud: Told ya.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): I'm gonna need some pliers and, uh, a set of 30-weight ball bearings.

Technician Bud: What?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Yeah, uh... Tell you what. I gotta go to my truck. If Fred gets here before I'm back, you can tell him to start without me.

Technician Willy: What the hell do you need ball bearings for?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Ah, come on guys... It's so simple. Maybe you need a refresher course. Hey! It's all ball bearings nowadays... Now, you prepare that Fetzer valve with some, uh, 3-in-1 oil and some gauze pads. And I'm gonna need about 10 quarts of antifreeze... preferably Prestone... No... No, make that Quaker State... And wash those windows. They got filth and muck on them.

[End of scene.]

55 minutes, 15 seconds after start of film:

[Fletch is with Gail Stanwyk in the Stanwyk's private cabana at the tennis club. A cabana is a little apartment located right at the club. Fletch ordered expensive food and champagne sent to the room, to be billed to somebody else's account, and is now sipping champagne with Gail.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Do you mind if I ask you a question?

Gail Stanwyk: Depends on the question?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Want some more champagne?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Yes.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Are you still in love with Alan? [Referring to Alan Stanwyk, Gail's husband.]

Gail: No. I mean, no, you can't ask me that question. Ask me another one.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Why'd you let me in?

Gail: Um, because I'm bored.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): If you're so bored, why didn't you go to Utah with Alan?

Gail: Well, Utah's not exactly a cure for boredom.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): That's a good point.

Gail: I-- I mean, I've never even been there. I shouldn't say that.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): What about his parents? They live there.

Gail: Uh, he hasn't seen them for years, so I've never met them.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): They don't get along well?

Gail: [Shakes her head indicating she doesn't really know.]

[Knock at door]

Ted Underhill (William Traylor): Mrs. Stanwyk. [Standing outside the cabana, knocking on the door.]

Gail: Yes?

Ted Underhill: Uh, I'm sorry to disturb you. It's Ted Underhill here.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): [Speaking quietly enough that only Gail can here.] Thanks for a great time. I-- [Looks at his bare wrist, pretending there's a watch there.] Whew! Gotta get out of here.

Gail: Wait a minute. What is this?

Ted Underhill: Someone of your acquaintance has charged a $400 lunch to my account.

Gail: John... You don't know the Underhills? [Fletch told Gail that his name is "John." He had also told her that he saved Mr. Underhill's life "in the war," which is why the Underhills are letting him charge lunch to their account.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): [Facial expression indicating 'no.']

Ted Underhill: I'd appreciate the opportunity to discussing this matter with you.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): [Using a falsetto voice, doing a poor job of imitating a woman's voice.] I'm just out of the shower.

Gail: Can you wait a minute?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): [Falsetto] I just have to wee-wee.

Ted Underhill: Uh, uh, yes, of course.

[Gail and Fletch have moved from the front room to the back bedroom of the cabana. Mr. Underhill can not hear them except when the shout to him.]

Gail: Why did you do it?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Well, I don't think it would be fair for you to pay the bill.

Gail: A four hundred dollar lunch tab?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): That's what I mean. It's outrageous, isn't it? It's way over the line.

Gail: [Laughs] I'll cover it. [Fletch starts climbing out the window.] But you can't go out looking like that. He might spot you. Hold on. You look like you're the same size as Alan. Put this on. [Hands Fletch a suit on a hanger.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Nice suit.

Gail: Just return it.

[Fletch hangs the suit on a hook. He takes off his golf shirt.]

Gail: Any other surprises?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Yeah. My name is not John Cocktoast. And I wasn't at your wedding.

Gail: Who are you?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): I'm Irwin Fletcher. And I write a newspaper column under the name of Jane Doe. And it's not in the food section, Gail. [He is an investigative reporter who writes about crime stories.]

Gail: So?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): So... Your husband hired me to kill him.

[Knock at door]

Ted Underhill: Mrs. Stanwyk. Mrs. Stanwyk!

Gail: [Shouting so that Mr. Stanwyk can hear.] In a minute! [To Fletch] Enough surprises. What the hell are you talking about?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Sit down. Your husband told me he was dying of cancer. Is that true?

Gail: [Shakes her head no.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): No, it's not true. That ranch property you thought you were buying in Utah? Not true. He's a bad guy, Gail. He's involved in something very big and very bad. Do you know a guy named Jim Swarthout?

Gail: Yeah. Swarthout's the man who sold us the ranch.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Wrong. He sold you three thousand dollars worth of scrub brush.

Gail: No, I saw the deed.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): You saw a forgery. [Pulls out a small stack of photographs.] This is the real deed. See, there's Swarthout's name. If this were at all legible you'd see what I meant. Look, here's the dog that tried to bite me. Here's the motel I stayed in. There's my car. The dog tried to bite that. There's the Mormon Tabernacle. [Shows her, successively, photos of the actual $3,000 deed, the guard dog, his motel, his rental car, and a photo of the massive pipe organ within the Tabernacle on Temple Square. Apparently Fletch took time to do a little site-seeing while in Provo, and he visited Temple Square and took that photo.]

Gail: Stop it. Stop.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): He's told me a lot of things. So far, not one of them has been true. I'm sorry to have to tell you these things.

[Knock at door]

Ted Underhill: Mrs. Stanwyk!

Gail: Wait-- Just wait a minute!

Gail: I'm gonna call my father. He'll know what to do...

Fletch (Chevy Chase): No, you can't. Gail, please. Look, I know you don't know me from a hole in the wall, but you've got to trust me... Just give me 24 hours.

[Knock at door]

Ted Underhill: Mrs. Stanwyk!

Fletch (Chevy Chase): You a Laker fan?

Gail: No. [Chuckling slightly. Bemused and exasperated at such an incongruous question.]

[Knock at door]

Gail: [Shouting to Mr. Underhill.] I, yeah, I'm coming! Just a minute!

Fletch (Chevy Chase): I'll take you to a game.

Ted Underhill: Mrs. Stanwyk!

Gail: [Goes to the front room, opens the door, grabs the bill from Mr. Underhill's hand, and closes the door.] Sorry. Thanks. Bye. [Goes back to the bedroom, where Fletch is halfway through the window.] Wait! What are you talking about?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): I'm talking about how much I'd like to take you to a Laker game. If you need me, call the paper.

Gail: What am I supposed to do for the next 24 hours?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Act natural.

Gail: I was afraid you'd say that.

[End of scene.]

1 hour, 8 minutes, 18 seconds after start of film:

[Fletch is at a ticket counter at the airport in Los Angeles, checking up on his suspicion about tickets that Alan Stanwyk purchased. Fletch told the ticket agent that his name is Alan Stanwyk. Alan Stanwyk hired Fletch to kill him Thursday night, but Stanwyk is actually planning on killing Fletch, switching identities with him, and flying to Rio.]

Pan Am ticket agent (Pan Am Clerk) Jeanette Grimes (Alison La Placa, credited as "Alison Laplaca"): Mr. Stanwyk, you are confirmed on Flight 441 to Rio de Janeiro tomorrow evening, 11 p.m., first class.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): That's terrific. Thank you.

[Aside: One thing that is not clear here, and may simply be a continuity error or script error, is this: Alan Stanwyk is planning to kill Fletch, put Fletch in his car with some of Stanwyk's own identification, and then burn the car, rendering the body unrecognizable. It is Stanwyk's intention that the murdered Fletch be mistaken by authorities for himself. If Stanwyk is trying to effectively stage his own murder and steal Fletch's identity, why did Stanwyk purchase tickets in his own name? Perhaps he thought it would not matter, because he was certain that upon finding Fletch's body, police would not think to look for him.]

Pan Am ticket agent: You re-confirmed this morning.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): You bet I did. I'm a bear for detail. I hope there's nobody sitting next to me. [Fletch is fishing for details, trying to find out who the real Alan Stanwyk may be planning to travel with.] See, I always travel first class, and I, uh, take both seats up. I'm in bridge work. Bridge construction. These fold-outs take a tremendous amount of space, and I need the space.

Pan Am ticket agent: I'm afraid there is someone sitting next to you.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Ah, for God don don! Who is it? Mr. Singleton?

Pan Am ticket agent: No, the name is Cavanaugh.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Cavanaugh? Ah! Is that Morris or Pierre?

Pan Am ticket agent: Sally Ann Cavanaugh.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Sally Ann? Well, terrific.

Pan Am ticket agent: In fact, you purchased the ticket for Miss Cavanaugh.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Doesn't mean I want her sitting next to me, does it?

Pan Am ticket agent: I'm sorry, the flight's full. She's connecting out of Provo.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Oh. All right, fine. Provo, Spain?

Pan Am ticket agent: Utah.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Utah.

[Cut to scene in same airport, a few minutes later. Fletch is using a pay phone to call his editor at the newspaper he writes for.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Listen, Frank, don't give me any crap about the beach story. I'm at the airport.

Frank: The airport?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Listen, there are at least two dozen cops after my ass. I can't go to my house. I can't go to the office. I'm a man without a country, Frank. [The police are after Fletch because he has dug up too much information about the police chief's drug trafficking operation on the beach. Earlier, two crooked officers planted drugs on Fletch and arrested him. Most of the Los Angeles Police Department is probably unaware of the police chief's criminal activities, but they have been told by the chief that Fletch is a fugitive and must be apprehended.]

Frank: Fletch, if these cops are really after you, come in here. You'll be okay.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): I couldn't even get through the front door. Listen, I-- I'm going to Utah.

Frank: You go to Utah, you stay in Utah. I'm turning the story over to a professional reporter.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Frank, the story IS Utah. Trust me.

Frank: You're going to Utah? Fine, fine, fine. If your story is not on my desk by 11:30 you're out of a job. [Slams phone on hook.]

[End of scene]

1 hour, 10 minutes, 0 seconds
After the scene in which Fletch talks to his editor (Frank) and tells him he is going to Utah, the film's second segment set in Utah begins. This section set in Utah starts 1 hour, 10 minutes after the start of the film. The last scene in this second Utah section ends 1 hour, 19 minutes, 30 seconds after the start of the film, making this section 9 minutes, 30 seconds long.

The combined time for the two sections that place in Provo, Utah is actually only 15 minutes, 30 seconds long. Yet Utah is an overwhelmingly significant presence in the film. The combined length of the scenes in which Utah is mentioned or discussed take up more than half the running time of the film. Plus, the antagonist is from Provo, Utah.

The scenes set in Utah are summarized below. Except for the last scene, these Utah scenes are not transcribed here:

New SCENE: The Provo Airport. Fletch is walking out of the terminal and getting into a rental car. The mountains surrounding Utah County can clearly be seen in the background.

Fletch drives through the streets of Provo, looking for the address of a house he has never been to before. Fletch stops at a medium-sized Provo home with the street address "410." He walks up to the house. He ring the bell and knocks. The name "Cavanaugh" is written above the door bell.

Fletch looks in the mail box next to the door. A few pieces of mail are in the box. He pulls out a Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes envelope which has a drawing of Ed McMahon on it. Printed on the outside of the package are the familiar customized words: "SALLY A. CAVANAUGH: CHOOSE THE TWO MILLION DOLLAR PRICE YOU PREFER -- AT ONCE!" In a smaller typeface are the words: "Furthermore, S. CAVANAUGH, if you return the winning number in time, by July 20, 1984, Grand Prize DOUBLES to TWO MILLION DOLLARS ALL FOR YOU!"

The resident's address can also be seen on the envelope:
S. Cavanaugh
410 N. Westview
Provo, Utah 84601

[Trivia fact: This is not a real address. While there really is a "Westview Drive" in Orem -- the city next to Provo in the Provo/Orem metroplex -- there is no "Westview" street of any kind in Provo itself. The zip code is real, however.]

Fletch enters the house through the unlocked front door. He lights a cigarette and closes the door. The house is furnished, but it appears as if somebody left in a hurry, packing a few things.

Fletch opens the refrigerator door. Hardly anything is in the refrigerator. A tipped-over Coors beer can is in the refrigerator, something that would actually never be seen in over 90% of homes in Provo. Whoever is living in the house, or whoever was living in the house, that person is probably not a practicing Latter-day Saint.

A rural man holding a rifle walks sneaks up from behind Fletch while Fletch is looking under the bed in the bedroom. The man with the rifle explains that he works for the landlord.

Fletch uses his usual verbal patter and subterfuge to get some information out of the man with the rifle. Fletch learns that Sally Ann Cavanaugh moved out earlier that morning.

Fletch is unable to talk his way out of this situation. The man with a gun, although a simpleton, refuses to buy Fletch's story about being Sally Ann's cousin. The man tells Fletch that he is going to call the cops. Finally Fletch simply distracts the man and then kicks him as hard as he can in the groin. Fletch runs away, leaves the house, and gets into his car. The man with the rifle manages to shoot out the rear window of Fletch's rental car, but Fletch escapes unharmed.

We next see Fletch at the largely run-down Mountain View Motel, the same place he stayed at during his previous trip to Provo.

Fletch calls "Larry" (Geena Davis), the young morgue (article archive) researcher at the newspaper. Fletch asks her to look up information on Sally Ann Cavanaugh. Fletch asks Larry to "check every hotel in L.A. Start with the ones near the airport. He's supposed to leave the country with her tomorrow night."

The next scene takes place the following morning. Fletch drives up to a large pig farm nestled in the foothills of the Wasatch mountains, apparently still within Provo city boundaries, but away from the city proper.

Fletch here finds the home of Marvin and Velma Stanwyk. Fletch poses as an insurance agent doing some routine information gathering pertaining to Alan Stanwyk's insurance policy. Alan Stanwyk's parents are sipping lemonade on the porch. They are clearly rural, simple people, but they are kind and forthcoming with information about their son.

1 hour, 15 minutes, 8 seconds after start of film:

[Scene: A large pig farm in the foothills on the outskirts of Provo, Utah. The squealing and grunting of pigs can be heard. In his rental car, Fletch drives up to a home at the pig farm. Marvin Stanwyk, an elderly man, perhaps in his 60s, gets out of a large truck and walks to Fletch's car to meet him.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Whew! Good afternoon.

Marvin Stanwyk (Robert Sorrells): Howdy.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): [Pointing to his rental car. The rear window is missing and some shattered glass can still be seen around it, from when the window was shot out by the man with a rifle at Sally Ann Cavanaugh's house.] You know, they oughta recall these things. You hit one good bump out here and BOOM! the whole rear window explodes... Are you, uh, Mr. Marvin Stanwyk?

Marvin Stanwyk: Yeah.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Hi there. I'm, uh, Harry S. Truman, from Casewell Insurance Underwriters.

Marvin Stanwyk: Harry S. Truman? [Incredulously.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Yeah, well, my parents were were big fans of the, uh, former president.

Marvin Stanwyk: Isn't that nice?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Yeah...

Marvin Stanwyk: He was a good man.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): He sure was.

Marvin Stanwyk: He showed the Japs a thing or two. [Referring to World War II.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Oh, yeah. He dropped the Big One, huh?

Marvin Stanwyk: He dropped two big ones on them.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): [Chuckles in agreement.]

Marvin Stanwyk: He was a real fighter.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Yeah.

Marvin Stanwyk: You, uh... You in the insurance line, Harry?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): That's right.

Marvin Stanwyk: Well, uh, I-- I'm fully covered.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Oh, I don't doubt it, Mr. Stanwyk. Actually, my company is, uh, sub-insurers of a subsidiary carriers of a policy held by Alan Stanwyk, who I believe is your son.

[Fletch and Marvin Stanwyk are walking to the front porch, upon which Marvin's wife, Velma Stanwyk, sits rocking slightly in a porch swing while reading a book. A pitcher of lemonade and a pair of glasses are on a small table next to her.]

Marvin Stanwyk: Yeah, he is... Mr. Truman, I want you to meet my wife, Velma.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Oh... my pleasure. [Fletch shakes Velma's hand.]

Velma Stanwyk: Nice to meet you.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Nice to meet you.

Marvin Stanwyk: Well, come on up here and sit down. Have a glass of lemonade.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Oh, thank you.

Marvin Stanwyk: Velma makes the most unusual lemonade.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Is that right?

Marvin Stanwyk: It's kind of hard to keep it cold on a day like this.

[Fletch picks up a glass of lemonade and drinks some of it.]

Marvin Stanwyk: Where are you from, Harry?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): I'm from California... San Berdoo... Yeah. Utah is part of my route... Say, you folks don't mind if I ask you a couple of questions, do you?

[Marvin looks at his wife. She motions, 'why not?']

Marvin Stanwyk: Shoot.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Thank you very much. [Pulls out a small notepad in which he begins jotting notes while they talk.] We'll start with a couple of the, uh, routine things. Uh... You and your wife are currently alive, I take it?

Marvin Stanwyk: Harry, if there's--

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Ah, it's just regulations... It's nothing... Now, you, Marvin and your wife named Velma...

Marvin Stanwyk: Velma.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): ...are the parents of one Alan Stanwyk of Beverly Hills... Executive Vice President of Boyd Aviation.

Marvin Stanwyk: Check.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Check. And when was the last time you saw Alan?

Marvin Stanwyk: Oh... uh... About 10 days ago.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): 10 days ago? [Fletch is surprised to hear this. Gail Stanwyk, Alan's wife in Los Angeles, had told Fletch that Alan had not seen his parents in years.]

Marvin Stanwyk: Yeah, he comes and visits us about every three weeks.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Isn't that nice. How long has he been doing that?

Marvin Stanwyk: Since he moved to L.A.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Hmm... Now, you'll pardon me if I seem a bit presonal here. But... I don't know how to put it. We understand that... there's a young lady friend here in Provo that Alan's been seeing.

Marvin Stanwyk: [Perturbed.] What's this got to do with insurance?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Oh, trust me, Marvin, this is a comprehensive policy.

Marvin Stanwyk: But you can forget about that lady friend business. Alan's the most loving husband a girl could have. He dotes on that bride of his.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Who?

Velma Stanwyk: His wife!

Fletch (Chevy Chase): You've met her?

Marvin Stanwyk: Well of course we have. He brings her with him.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): [Still confused. Gail Stanwyk told Fletch that she had never been to Utah, and never met Alan's parents.] Has Alan ever mentioned the name Sally Ann Cavanaugh?

[Marvin and Velma Stanwyk give Fletch a disapproving look.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Has he?

Marvin Stanwyk: Boy, what in the hell's the matter with you?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): He has, then?

Marvin Stanwyk: Of course he has. That's his wife.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Of course. [Pieces of this case click into place for him.] His wife's name is Sally Ann Cavanaugh, then.

Velma Stanwyk: Cute as a button

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Ah, you wouldn't happen to have a picture of Alan and his bride, now would you?

Velma Stanwyk: Oh, sure, we've got lots of pictures. Let me go get you some.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Great... Still married, are they? Alan and Sally Ann?

Marvin Stanwyk: Yes, they are.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): How long have they been married, Marvin?

Marvin Stanwyk: It was, uh, before he moved to L.A. Eight years April.

Velma Stanwyk: [Walking back out onto the porch after retrieving a large scrapbook from inside.] This gets heavier each year, I think... There we are... There, here it is. That's the one.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Oh my goodness. She is a button, isn't she? Isn't she cute?

[Fletch holds up a photograph that had been in the scrapbook. The photo shows Alan Stanwyk wearing a light blue tuxedo, standing next to a young woman holding a bouquet. The woman is wearing a very modest white wedding dress. This could easily be the wedding photo of a young Latter-day Saint couple at a reception on the day they got married in a temple. The young couple is standing in front of a bulletin board inside a building.]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Say, could I borrow this picture for a while? I promise to send it back. Uh, it's routine. The actuarial people--

Velma Stanwyk: Oh, that's all right. We have lots more. Want to see the reception?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): No. No, thank you. I'm trying to quit.

Velma Stanwyk: Well, how about Marvin's 65th birthday party?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): How about that, Marvin?

Marvin Stanwyk: They got a picture of me in here. But they were taken--

[Cut to NEW SCENE. Fletch is back in Los Angeles. The scene opens focusing on the wedding photo of Alan Stanwyk with Sally Ann Cavanaugh. Gail Stanwyk (Alan's wife in Los Angeles) is holding the photo.]

Gail Stanwyk: This is Alan? Sonofabitch. I can't believe this!

Fletch (Chevy Chase): It's really Alan, and it's really bigamy.

Gail Stanwyk: How long have they been married?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): About eight years.

Gail Stanwyk: Who is this woman?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): I don't know, Gail. I think it's Alan's high school sweetheart. Name is Sally Ann something or other. Alan's been keeping a lot of things secret lately.

Gail Stanwyk: I'm gonna call the police.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): No.

Gail Stanwyk: I'm calling the police.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): No, Gail, don't.

Gail Stanwyk: Yes, I am.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Gail, you can't do that.

Gail Stanwyk: And then I'm calling my father.

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Just give me one more day, okay? Just one more day.

Gail Stanwyk: Why? What for? Do you have any idea how humiliating this is?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): Yes, I do. I really do.

[A few more lines, concluding with Fletch making a pass at Gail.]

1 hour, 29 minutes, 17 seconds after start of film:

[This is the climactic scene, in which all of the final details of the mystery are resolved. Fletch has kept his appointment, in which he is supposed to come to Alan Stanwyk's study at his house and kill him. Alan, of course, was actually planning on killing Fletch and switching identities with him. Alan is holding a gun on Fletch. But Fletch has prepared a twist of his own: A letter that will go to Alan's father-in-law if Fletch's people don't hear from him by midnight. At Fletch's insistence, Alan started to read the letter out loud, but he stopped when Gail Stanwyk revealed that she was at the doorway, listening. Fletch continues reading the letter he wrote...]

Fletch (Chevy Chase): "Sally Ann and Alan were married eight years ago... never divorced, making Stanwyk a bigamist, even in Utah. Stanwyk is also traveling with three million dollars in cash, the result of Gail Stanwyk's conversion of Boyd Aviation stock."

Gail Stanwyk: It's true, isn't it?

Fletch (Chevy Chase): "Sally Ann can confirm all this when the police pick her up at the Airport Marriott." That's where she is, isn't it? "By the way, Alan is a very big drug smuggler. But you can read all about that in tomorrow's paper. Sincerely, I.M. Fletcher. P.S. Have a nice day."

During the final minutes of the film, Alan Stanwyk and Fletch exchange a few lines, with Alan Stanwyk pointing out that he still has a gun trained on Gail and Fletch, and Fletch realizing he doesn't have much of a plan beyond this point.

Corrupt police chief Jerry Karlin walks into the room as well, also holding a gun on Fletch and Gail. Alan Stanwyk has been using his private plan to fly to South America to buy illegal narcotics, which the police chief and his cronies on the police force supply to dealers on the beach.

An argument ensues when the police chief realizes that what Stanwyk is doing is going to soon lead to their drug trafficking operation being exposed in the newspaper. The police chief is also irate after realizing that Stanwyk is planning to steal $800,000 that had been fronted for the next drug buy.

The police chief shoots Stanwyk dead.

The police chief plans to shoot Gail and Fletch as well. But Fletch turns on the gas from a fireplace, and then throws his lighter into the fireplace, to create a fireball that momentarily shocks Karlin, allowing Fletch to disarm him. While Fletch and the police chief wrestle on the floor, reaching for the gun, Gail knock the police chief unconscious with a charcoal pan.

The movie's denouement takes place in the newspaper offices. Everybody is celebrating this incredible newspaper story about drug smuggling, a murder plot, and police corruption at the highest levels in the city. Fletch's editor Frank is apologetic about threatening to fire Fletch. Fletch decides not to turn the airplane tickets to Rio over to police as evidence, but intead invites Gail to fly to Rio with him.

In the final scene of the film, Gail and Fletch are walking on a resort beach in Rio de Janeiro, happily chatting while Fletch attempts to explain the rules of basketball to her.

[NOTE: The dialogue above is an exact transcript from the film as it actually was released. Where there are discrepancies between our transcript and the optional English subtitles shown onscreen on the DVD, it is the transcript that is correct. Mistakes in the DVD subtitles are usually a result of presenting subtitles based on the shooting script rather than transcribing the audio track.]

Further observations about Alan Stanwyk's plan
It seems likely that Alan Stanwyk only married Gail Boyd for her money. It is quite possible that Alan Stanwyk was planning since before he married Gail to swindle money from her in order to make himself and his Utah wife wealthy.

The possibility that Stanwyk had been planning this all along is never explicitly stated in the film. In the original screenplay, Fletch more clearly poses this possibility. The screenplay includes a line not in the final film, spoken by Fletch into a tape recorder while flying from Utah to Los Angeles:

Question: Why does a man marry a millionaire's daughter in Beverly Hills if he is already married to a girl who lives in a crappy one bedroom apartment in Utah? Answer: Three million dollars.
As nefarious as Stanwyk's plane is, it is interesting to note that had he actually executed his plan in its entirety, his Los Angeles wife Gail would have been in roughly the same position as she was after the plan was foiled by Fletch.

Stanwyk's plan would have left Gail thinking her husband was dead, killed by a burglar. She would have been completely unharmed, still in possession of her mansion, and she would have received a substantial insurance payoff. Given the overall wealth of Gail and her family, Alan Stanwyk's theft of $3 million would have been of little consequence to her. As far as she knew, that money was already gone, having been spent on ranch land in Utah -- land that she had no plans for, and from which she obtained no income. Furthermore, Gail was clearly no longer in love with Alan. Being rid of him through a "burglary" would have freed her to pursue other romantic interests, which is exactly what she did (with Fletch) as soon as she learned of her husband's lies.

Alan Stanwyk seemed to have little reservation about carrying out this plan and leaving Gail. Yet, as odd as it may seem, he must be classified as a true romantic. If Alan Stanwyk really only cared about money and standing, he would have simply abandoned his wife in Utah and thrown himself into his new life in Beverly Hills. He had wealth, a beautiful wife, a high position in a large company, and connections to the political elite of Los Angeles. Yet his plan was to trade all of this for an obscure life hiding in a foreign country. Why? He was doing it all so he could live a life of ease and luxury with Sally Ann Cavanaugh, his high school sweetheart and his first, legal wife. In an odd way, Alan Stanwyk's story has parallels to the story of Jacob in the Old Testament, who married Leah and worked for seven years so he could do what he really wanted to do, which was marry Leah's sister Rachel.

Alan Stanwyk was also a devoted son, who took the time to visit his parents about every three weeks. Marvin and Velma Stanwyk thought highly of their son, and had no clue about his duplicitious nature.

Alan Stanwyk was inarguably a romantic. Hollywood films often portray romance as the highest ideal, an excuse for anything. Fortunately, "Fletch" in no way portrays Alan Stanwyk as admirable, nor does it excuse his murder plot in the name of love. Alan's devotion to his Utah wife Sally Ann Cavanaugh does not excuse the fact that he was deceitful to Gail, he was a drug smuggler who brought large volumes of narcotics to Los Angeles, and he was planning to murder Fletch in order to carry out his plans. When Gail walked into the study where he was planning to shoot Fletch, Alan Stanwyk apparently had no qualms about killing her as well.

Alan Stanwyk was a villain, but not an entirely self-centered one.

Differences between the screenplay and the film
The write-up and the scene transcripts above are based entirely on the finished movie. Although the screenplay is followed fairly closely, there are many changes in dialogue beteen the screenplay and the film. Much of this can probably be attributed to Chevy's Chase's penchant for funny ad libbing. Interestingly enough, the screenplay lacks the overt references to Mormons that are in the actual film. You can read a copy of the screenplay here: 'Fletch' Screenplay.

A funny line about Latter-day Saint entertainment superstars Donny and Marie Osmond is in the screenplay, but has been ommited from the film:

                         I think I gotta go to Utah, Frank.


                         Yeah. It's wedged in between Wyoming
                         and Nevada. I'm sure you've seen

                         What about finding the source?

                         I have some ideas.

                         Who? Donnie and Marie?

                         Very possibly. Come on, say yes.
                         I'll buy you a shirt.

This scene appears in the film almost exactly as written, except that Frank's line about Donnie and Marie has been replaced with a simple murmur "Hmm."

Excerpt from the novel Fletch

Alan Stanwyk is a non-churchgoing Latter-day Saint from Provo, Utah in the movie version of "Fletch." But in the original novel, the character is not a Latter-day Saint, and he is not from Utah: he is from Pennsylvania. Alan Stanwyk is never overtly identified as a Latter-day Saint in the movie, but the choice to change the character's home state from Pennsylvania to Utah was done in order to humorously tie the novel's bigamist antagonist to a state known for its majority Latter-day Saint population.

The entire novel is essentially about the title character's investigation into the background of Alan Stanwyk. The excerpt below appears relatively early in the novel and is effective in illustrating the Pennsylvania (not Utah) background of Alan Stanwyk in the novel:

Source: Gregory Mcdonald. Fletch. Indianapolis/New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. (1974; first printing).

Pages 36-40:

"The Collins family -- John, his wife and daughter -- continue to own fifty-one per cent of the company."


"They are very rich. Of course, the stock is actually held in foundations and trusts and what-have-you, but it's all John Collins when it comes time to vote. I must add that the Collins family, so you won' think they're complete dopes, have an amount equal to or greater than their investment in Collins Aviation invested through invest ment houses in Boston."

"Phew. Why Boston?"

"You don't know much, do you, Fletcher?"

"Not about money. I've seen so little of it."

"Boston is the Switzerland of this hemisphere. It is chock-a-bloct full of quiet, conservative investment bankers."

"I thought it was full of beans."

"It is. Other people's."

"How do people get as rich as Collins?"

"If I knew, do you think I'd be sitting here? Collins is a Harvarc graduate who started designing and making airplane equipment witi his own hands in a rented garage on Fairbanks Avenue in the early 1950s. Patents led to capital. It's easy. Go do it. Everybody says he's a nice man, quiet, humble. He's good to his friends. Most of the rest of Collins Aviation stock is held by friends of the family. They're all as rich as lords. He's made heavy contributions to Harvard College, the Cancer Fund, muscular dystrophy ..."

"The Cancer Fund?"

"He's given them something like a total of ten million dollars."


"Yes. Continuously."

"I see."

"Stanwyk is the perfect man to be Collins's son-in-law, considering Collins doesn't have a son of his own. Stanwyk is from a modest family in Pennsylvania. His father is in the hardware business."

"Still alive?"

"1 believeso. Why do you ask?"

"His parents didn't come out to his wedding."

"Probably couldn't afford it. That would have been an expensive trip tor them."

"Stanwyk could have paid."

"There could have been lots of reasons why his parents didn't come to his wedding -- ill health, business, cost -- how do I know?"

"Go on."

"A brilliant student all the way through, and apparently a nice kid. True blue. A Boy Scout; a Golden Gloves champion for the state of Pennsylvania who did not go on to the nationals for some reason; summa cum laude at Colgate, where he did not box but began to play racquet sports; an Air Force flier who flew lots of missions, currently a major in the Air Force Reserves; graduated third in his class from Wharton Business School, which, because you probably don't know, is one of the best; came out here; worked in the sales department of Collins Aviation, where sales immediately jumped; became a vice president at twenty-six or twenty-seven; and married the boss's daughter. Apparently just a magnificent young man in all ways."

"He sounds machine-made."

"Too good to be true, huh? There are people like that. Unquestionably the guy is ambitious, but there is nothing immoral in that. He's done well and he's well liked."

"By the way. Jack, who is youi ource for all this?"

"I thought you'd never ask. The Collins family has a local stockbroker, an investment man out here who does just little things for them, you know, regarding Collins Aviation stock -- little things that run into the millions -- name of Bill Carmichael. We play golf together. Needless to say, Carmichael is the son of an old buddy of John Collins. His father died, and Carmichael fell heir to the account. He and Stanwyk have become close friends. Stanwyk has taken him flying. They play squash and tennis together. He genuinely likes Stanwyk. And, incidentally, he says Stanwyk genuinely likes his wife, Joan Collins, which ain't always the case."

"There is no hanky-panky going on?"

"Not as far as Carmichael knows. Between you and me, Stanwyk would have to be out of his mind to be playing around on the side under these circumstances. God knows what Papa would say if Stanwyk got thrown out of bed."

"Does Stanwyk have any money of his own?"

"No, not to speak of. He has savings from his salary invested with

Carmichael, but it doesn't amount to much over a hundred thousand dollars."

"Poor fellow."

"He did not buy the house on Berman Street. She did, but it's in both their names. Carmichael says it's worth maybe a million dollars. However, Stanwyk maintains the house and staff, and supposedly all other family expenses, out of salary. Male chauvinist pride, I guess. Which is why he probably doesn't have more savings out of salary. That's an expensive family to keep up with. Incidentally, the house on Berman Street backs onto the Collins estate on, would you believe it, Collins Avenue?"

"Old John Collins has spyglasses."

"I gather there is a lot of back and forth."

"Doesn't he own a second house anywhere?"

"No. His father-in-law has a house in Palm Springs, one in Aspen, and one in Antibes. The kids use these houses whenever they like." "Does he own his own airplane?"

"No. Collins Aviation has three Lear jets, with pilots, but Stanwyk flies them when he likes. He also has to do some flying to keep up his Air Force Reserve rank. And he flies experimental planes all over the country, supposedly to test Collins equipment. Carmichael suspects he just gets a kick out of it.

"Stanwyk is also the holder of some stock options in Collins Aviation. So I guess if you put everything together, he is probably a millionaire in his own right at this point, but it's on paper. He couldn't raise a million in cash without upsetting an awful lot of people.

"Oh, I forgot to tell you, Fletcher. Stanwyk and his wife have just converted about three million dollars of her personal stock."


"into cash. Carmichael says they intend to buy a cattle ranch in Nevada. He thinks it's an effort to get out from under the heel of Daddy Collins -- go do their own thing."

"Is this Stanwyk's idea?"

"Carmichael has the impression it's her idea. At least, she's the one who likes horses. One can have enough of tennis and yachting, you know."

"I didn't know. Why cash?"

"The ranch costs something like fifteen million dollars."

"I can't get used to these figures."

"Inflation, my boy."

"How can a farm be worth fifteen million dollars?"

"Farms can be worth a lot more than that."

"Has Carmichael said anything to you about Stanwyk's health?"

"No. Except that he's a hell of a squash player. You have to be in pretty good shape to play that game. I tried it once. Twelve minutes and I was wiped out. Golf for me. Is there anything wrong with Stanwyk's health?"

"Would it matter if there were?"

"It would matter a lot. I have already mentioned to you that there is a kind of middle-management crisis at Collins Aviation. The whole thing now rests on the shoulders of one Alan Stanwyk. Old John Collins could go back to work, I suppose, but he never was as good a businessman as Stanwyk. He was an inventor who had some luck. Collins now has to be run by a real pro -- which Daddy John ain't." "Would the stock market fall if word got around that Stanwyk was terminally ill?

"Collins stock sure would. That sort of thing would be very upsetting to that company. Executive personnel would start jockeying for position. Some would leave outright. Things would have to be in a state of confusion for about as long as Stanwyk has been running the place."

"I see. So if he were ill, I mean terminally ill, it would have to be kept a deep, dark secret."

"Absolutely. Is he ill?"

How would I, know?

"Oh, I forgot. You're working on the insurance angle. Well, young Fletcher, I've told you everything I know about Alan Stanwyk. You see, we are not very close yet to the moneyless state you write about.

There is still plenty of it around."

"Stanwyk seems to be a competent, decent man who happened to marry the boss's daughter. Okay? Mind if I go back and do my own work now?"

"I appreciate your help very much."

"I'm just trying to prevent your writing one of your usual sh--ty pieces. Anything I could do would be worth that."

Webpage created 23 October 2004. Last modified 9 April 2005.