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The Truman Show (Part 1)

Universal Pictures
Fletch as "Harry S. Truman" (Chevy Chase) talks to Marvin Stanwyk (Robert Sorrells) about "insurance."
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OKLAHOMA CITY – One of my favorite films when I was growing up was Fletch, the 1985 film starring Chevy Chase as reporter Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher who is investigating a “drugs-on-the-beach” story that leads to a powerful businessman and the Los Angeles chief of police. So many great and memorable quotes.

Part of the plot involves Fletch’s trips to Utah and the various aliases and disguises he uses to get information. One part of the plot involves Fletch going to Provo to talk to Marvin Stanwyk, the father of the wealthy businessman in question, Alan Stanwyk, in hopes of putting pieces together.

What is odd, to me, is Fletch’s name choice (he uses Don Corleone, Ted Nugent and others over the course of the film.

But in this case, he picks “Harry S. Truman.” This is a name - and the 33rd president, and one-time sheriff of Twin Peaks, Washington - that keeps coming up.

And then there is the stubborn old man with a familiar name who lived on Mount St. Helen's (back in the news this week, oddly enough) in Washington state and died - with his 16 cats - when it erupted on May 18, 1980.

Later in Fletch, newspapers with "IT'S TRUMAN" and "LEST WE FORGET" can be seen in the editor's office. (Universal Pictures)

Below is the exchange (via this Mormon movie website) Marvin and Fletch have just after Fletch introduces himself as "Harry S. Truman."

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. 

Insurance? Where have we heard that before?

In Twin Peaks: The Return, "insurance" seems to play a big role. Lucky 7 Insurance in Las Vegas, Nevada is where "Dougie Jones" works - "Dougie" is now "Good Cooper," escaped from The Black Lodge.

And in the reboot, Sheriff Harry S. Truman (played by the now-retired actor Michael Ontkean) is replaced by brother Frank(lin) Truman.

We are seeing a pattern involving the name "Harry Truman" in film and television. 

Coffee-loving "Dougie Jones" ("Good Cooper") played by Kyle MacLachlan in Twin Peaks: The Return (Showtime).

Harry R. Truman, who lived in Mount St. Helen's was the inspiration for name of Sheriff Truman, when Twin Peaks first premiered over 25 years ago - it was not (allegedly) President Truman, despite the difference in the middle initial.

We are looking into this "Truman" pattern more closely and hope to have more on it in an upcoming Dust Devil Dreams post. Sometimes these things take time.

We know you understand.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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