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 Posted:   Sep 17, 2009 - 3:36 PM   
 By:   Storyteller   (Member)

A&E aired a special of Peter Falk's favorite Columbo episodes which also included comments from the legend himself. Looks like Mr. Falk's preference leaned towards the show's fifth season:

http://www.columbo-site.freeuk.com/favoritecolumbos.htm



HOW COOL! His number 1 pick is mine. Hahaha.

 
 Posted:   Sep 17, 2009 - 6:44 PM   
 By:   Mark R. Y.   (Member)

And his #4 pick is MY favorite.

 
 Posted:   Sep 17, 2009 - 8:07 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

"Any Old Port In A Storm" amazingly is one of the few 70s Columbos I really don't like. I have never seen what was so sympathetic about Donald Pleasance's character (in contrast to the genuine sympathy Janet Leigh evoked) since his problem that was putting his ownership of the winery at risk was the fact that he was a lousy businessman who ran it like a toy, hence the reason why his half-brother was going to sell it out from under him. If he'd been running an honest, effective business then genuine sympathy would have been there but absent that, his act of murder was in fact one of the more selfish of the entire series.

By contrast, an episode Falk has said he doesn't like is one of my favorites, "Dagger Of The Mind" which was partly filmed in London and featured perhaps the best guest cast ensemble of any "Columbo" episode with Richard Basehart and Honor Blackman (a very rare US TV appearance) as a husband-wife acting couple who end up the guest killers.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 12:25 AM   
 By:   CindyLover   (Member)

By contrast, an episode Falk has said he doesn't like is one of my favorites, "Dagger Of The Mind" which was partly filmed in London and featured perhaps the best guest cast ensemble of any "Columbo" episode with Richard Basehart and Honor Blackman (a very rare US TV appearance) as a husband-wife acting couple who end up the guest killers.

This also has a rare opportunity to see Bernard Fox (one of that group of actors I call "Hollywood Brits" - fellow HB Arthur Malet is here as well) in England. One drawback to this episode is that the scenes filmed in London and those filmed in Hollywood have a distractingly different look; plus Columbo spends a bit too much time behaving like a tourist (although to be fair if there's an American TV detective who would be out of character if he didn't behave like a tourist, it's him).

Columbo, Magnum, McCloud... are there any TV detectives who haven't gone to London?

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 5:41 AM   
 By:   Lee S   (Member)

"Any Old Port In A Storm" amazingly is one of the few 70s Columbos I really don't like. I have never seen what was so sympathetic about Donald Pleasance's character (in contrast to the genuine sympathy Janet Leigh evoked) since his problem that was putting his ownership of the winery at risk was the fact that he was a lousy businessman who ran it like a toy, hence the reason why his half-brother was going to sell it out from under him. If he'd been running an honest, effective business then genuine sympathy would have been there but absent that, his act of murder was in fact one of the more selfish of the entire series.

By contrast, an episode Falk has said he doesn't like is one of my favorites, "Dagger Of The Mind" which was partly filmed in London and featured perhaps the best guest cast ensemble of any "Columbo" episode with Richard Basehart and Honor Blackman (a very rare US TV appearance) as a husband-wife acting couple who end up the guest killers.


I think the sympathetic quality of Adrian Carsini is meant to lie in his pride in his work, and his old-fashioned values prizing quality over financial success. That is to say, to Carsini, he runs the business in the most effective way possible--the wine is good. Also, his initial crime is one of passion, rather than calculation. Admittedly, it's still murder in order to maintain his business and, as such, not all THAT sympathetic. What interests me, and I think provides the real source of the sympathy for the character, is how distinctly Columbo identifies with him. Columbo has a lot of the same pride and meticulousness, and he can understand how Carsini feels, which is an interesting glimpse into both characters.

I'm curious how you see Grace Wheeler as more sympathetic. She kills a loving husband in a premeditated way to get his money. If not for the medical twist (which Grace has no idea about at the time), would she still be sympathetic?

I like Dagger of the Mind, but it's easy for me to see why Falk doesn't. The central relationship of almost every Columbo episode is between Columbo and the murderer. In "Dagger", Columbo is truly a supporting character, as the Basehart/Blackman Macbeth relationship is the primary one in this story.

 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 5:58 AM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

*****I think the sympathetic quality of Adrian Carsini is meant to lie in his pride in his work, and his old-fashioned values prizing quality over financial success. That is to say, to Carsini, he runs the business in the most effective way possible--the wine is good.******

But if a business isn't meeting the bottom line, then I can't have much in the way of sympathy for a guy who may lose it because of his lack of business acumen. And the scene where he mocks Ric Carsini for being of inferior breeding because his mother was American is probably the worst example of elitism ever expressed by a Columbo killer. Plus, since he never has any conscience whatsoever about his crime of passion, that only further cements my own feeling that he got just what he deserved when his wine collection got ruined.

The sympathy I felt for Grace Wheeler stems from studying the episode more carefully. First, her husband is not all that loving as you think because he was withholding the news of her condition from her because he wanted to get a round the world trip with her before she'd die. If he had been honest with her about her plight, is it possible she gets steered away from the thought of killing? Plus, when you look at this episode and discern the backstory it's clear that Ned Diamond, her former partner, was the true love of her life as we discover that his own screwups that ended his professional career (and by extension hers) kept them from marrying, and thus her husband Dr. Willis was someone she didn't marry for love but for comfort and stability (even Dr. Willis admits that their marriage has never been based on love). So taking all of that together, it just made me see Grace as someone who'd been dealt a number of cruel blows in life and that but for those, it's hard to think of her becoming a killer. Plus, the twist ending of the episode makes you look back at the episode again and realize that her reactions to Columbo's interrogations are ultimately not those of a typical Columbo killer.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 6:43 AM   
 By:   Lee S   (Member)

Without making this too much into a referendum on Grace Wheeler...

I would certainly stop short of recommending people lie to terminal patients, but Henry wanted a trip around the world with her so that they could have a last happy memory, unclouded by the knowledge of her fate. As you say, he married for love and she married for money. He still seems more sympathetic to me, especially as she was a movie star who married for money, not a starving pauper. I completely agree about the way Grace's behaviors subtlely betray her illness, and I feel a great deal of sympathy as the show goes on because of them.

As for Carsini...how do you feel about Colonel Rumford? He seems to be exactly the same--he kills a boorish Philistine he sees as inferior in order to protect a failing business he sees as a necessity, but only if it is run his way. And, despite his refusal to acknowledge any remorse or wrongdoing, Columbo obviously feels a personal connection to him. I love both episodes, but am curious as to whether you feel there is a distinction.

The bigger point is that this very discussion is part of what makes the series so great. As Columbo opines in Try and Catch Me, he can find something to like or admire in almost every murderer, though never their terrible crime. And appropriately, except for Grace Wheeler (because of her short time to live, not the circumstances of her crime), no killer, however much sympathy he feels, is exempted from Columbo's justice. The killers are villains, of course, but all real, multi-dimensional people.

 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 12:00 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

I never saw Grace as marrying Henry for money, but more as someone she caught on the rebound after things fell apart with Ned, and she suddenly after that trauma needed a father-figure who could keep her comfortable as her career went into decline. Ned's anguish when he realizes that Grace is indeed guilty of murder and his subsequent actions I think also reveal someone who sees himself as partly responsible for how things came to this eventually, and that if things had worked out so that he and Grace had been married, it would have been different for everyone.

On Colonel Rumford, there is only a small element of pity for seeing an obviously dedicated soldier just lose his grip on reality. Rumford is cool, calculating and detached, but he is also ultimately quite mad and I never feel any real sympathy for him. But unlike "Any Old Port" there is no attempt to stack the script in a way to force the viewer to feel unwarranted sympathy for Rumford. Nor is itl like Johnny Cash in "Swan Song" who is finally in the climax feeling guilt over his actions, which get driven home by how Columbo notes that a man who can sing such inspiring music to others has to have a conscience within him.

My personal favorite remains "Death Lends A Hand" because I love how at that early stage of the series, the familiar elements of Columbo have been locked into place following the two pilot movies, but the character is not yet veering off into quirky caricature. Case in point is the scene where Columbo interviews (innocent) suspect Brett Halsey on the golf course and asks for a lesson. If this had been an episode later in the run, we would have gotten a load of unnecessary comedy of Columbo breaking a club or hitting a drive in the water and he would have kept his raincoat on. But here, early on without those gimmicks, Columbo takes his coat off and as he's questioning the suspect, he then proceeds to hit a solid shot down the fairway. The subtle message of the scene is "Don't BS with me anymore" (since Halsey is lying about an affair with the victim) and showing us the intelligence of the man underneath the exterior coming to the forefront. Moments like this would all but disappear as the series went on.

 
 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 12:47 PM   
 By:   Lee S   (Member)

You have eloquently reminded me that whenever I watch "Forgotten Lady", my heart always goes out to Ned Diamond. So, apparently does Columbo's, as it is really Ned who devises the plan of leaving Grace alone for her short remaining time.

Tommy Brown is certainly a very sympathetic character, both for his ultimate guilt and for the circumstances that led to the crime. Ward Fowler is also quite put upon by his evil victim, though I would say he goes past even Colonel Rumford on the crazy road. Abigail Mitchell, too, without being justified, is more on the understandable side.

I know what you're saying about the broader character comedy (and you're right), but there are still occasional flashes of the no-BS Columbo later on. His "exercise" session when he joins a Milo Janus gym, for example, or his shuffling, awkward on-stage challenge to The Great Santini.

 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 1:06 PM   
 By:   Gary S.   (Member)

It wasn't just the writing that fell off, it was the directing talent. Spielberg was among Columbo's earliest directors. The series started sliding after Levinson and Link were no longer involved. Where the Perry Mason movies were pretty close in quality to the old tv shows and Mason was still his usual self with hints of Robert T. Ironside, the Columbo's did fall off.

 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 1:10 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

The ultimate case of the no-BS side surfacing is when Columbo abruptly slams the water pitcher down in front of Leonard Nimoy. It's a moment where Columbo realizes his nice-guy act isn't having an impact on him so now it's time to take the gloves off. A moment like that makes you realize that there's a very different person underneath that we never see enough of and rightly so, because that is what helps make Columbo attain that larger than life status.

 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 1:50 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

"Any Old Port In A Storm" amazingly is one of the few 70s Columbos I really don't like. I have never seen what was so sympathetic about Donald Pleasance's character ( since his problem that was putting his ownership of the winery at risk was the fact that he was a lousy businessman who ran it like a toy, hence the reason why his half-brother was going to sell it out from under him. If he'd been running an honest, effective business then genuine sympathy would have been there but absent that, his act of murder was in fact one of the more selfish of the entire series.


spoken like a true Re - Publican!
smile

DAGGER OF THE MIND has entertainment value but that ending...!!

 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 1:52 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

"rt and Honor Blackman (a very rare US TV appearance) as a husband-wife acting couple who end up the guest killers.

I think the sympathetic quality of Adrian Carsini is meant to lie in his pride in his work, and his old-fashioned values prizing quality over financial success. That is to say, to Carsini, he runs the business in the most effective way possible--the wine is good. Also, his initial crime is one of passion, rather than calculation. Admittedly, it's still murder in order to maintain his business and, as such, not all THAT sympathetic. What interests me, and I think provides the real source of the sympathy for the character, is how distinctly Columbo identifies with him. Columbo has a lot of the same pride and meticulousness, and he can understand how Carsini feels, which is an interesting glimpse into both characters.

I'm curious how you see Grace Wheeler as more sympathetic. She kills a loving husband in a premeditated way to get his money. If not for the medical twist (which Grace has no idea about at the time), would she still be sympathetic?

I like Dagger of the Mind, but it's easy for me to see why Falk doesn't. The central relationship of almost every Columbo episode is between Columbo and the murderer. In "Dagger", Columbo is truly a supporting character, as the Basehart/Blackman Macbeth relationship is the primary one in this story.


coul not have said it bettr meself!

 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 1:53 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

[
spoken like a true 'Publican!
smile


Definition of a "Publican" as it was known in Biblical times was "tax collector." Not I! big grin

But just to add to that point, all the writer (in this case, Stanley Ralph Ross, of whom it can be said sometimes had a problem avoiding caricature as his "Batman" scripts revealed) had to do was just establish that Adrian was turning out a quality product while still making a *small* profit, and thus the clash would have centered on his refusal to sacrifice quality for the sake of bigger profits. Then you've got sympathy but if he's constantly losing money and running the price into the ground, then I'd be for getting him out too.

 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 1:53 PM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

It's been a good thread so far--don't ruin it.

 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 1:55 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)



My personal favorite remains "Death Lends A Hand" because I love how at that early stage of the series, the familiar elements of Columbo have been locked into place following the two pilot movies, but the character is not yet veering off into quirky caricature. Case in point is the scene where Columbo interviews (innocent) suspect Brett Halsey on the golf course and asks for a lesson. If this had been an episode later in the run, we would have gotten a load of unnecessary comedy of Columbo breaking a club or hitting a drive in the water and he would have kept his raincoat on. But here, early on without those gimmicks, Columbo takes his coat off and as he's questioning the suspect, he then proceeds to hit a solid shot down the fairway. The subtle message of the scene is "Don't BS with me anymore" (since Halsey is lying about an affair with the victim) and showing us the intelligence of the man underneath the exterior coming to the forefront. Moments like this would all but disappear as the series went on.


well put eric!

btw why do some posts have black bars
is the CIA or FBI monitoring our posts?

 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 1:56 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

Just hiding spoiler info for the benefit of those unfortunate who have not seen "Forgotten Lady".

 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 1:58 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

[
spoken like a true 'Publican!
smile


Definition of a "Publican" as it was known in Biblical times was "tax collector." Not I! big grin

But just to add to that point, all the writer (in this case, Stanley Ralph Ross, of whom it can be said sometimes had a problem avoiding caricature as his "Batman" scripts revealed) had to do was just establish that Adrian was turning out a quality product while still making a *small* profit, and thus the clash would have centered on his refusal to sacrifice quality for the sake of bigger profits. Then you've got sympathy but if he's constantly losing money and running the price into the ground, then I'd be for getting him out too.


we are never going to agree on the profit versus quality argument
but you may also overlook the fact that his brother is a no-good playboy and spendthrift. He ONLY WANTS THE CARSINI MONEY TO INDULGE HIS HEDONISM. The contrast in the two bros evokes sympathy for the more admirable one

 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 2:01 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

Just hiding spoiler info for the benefit of those unfortunate who have not seen "Forgotten Lady".

??????????
are you saying the black bars can be undone by a reader who wants to see it- how?

 
 Posted:   Sep 18, 2009 - 2:03 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

i think LT. also appreciates Carsini's eccentricies and recognizes a bit of himself in him

 
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