Time to hang up the trenchcoat... R.I.P., Lieutenant Columbo.
March 28, 2007 3:57 PM   Subscribe

Peter Falk is a multi-talented actor and very likeable guy. He's appeared in many famous films, but around the world he's mostly recognized as TV's Lieutenant Columbo. The guest stars on Columbo were often surprising, and his unconventional but brilliant crimesolving style was so addicting to watch that even his wife got into the action at one point. Columbo is still beloved in many languages and countries, and to this day there are still people hiring themselves out as Columbo lookalikes around the world (although some are clearly better than others). But despite an approved final script & an agreeable Peter Falk, no studio will ever greenlight another Columbo movie. Why? Nobody wants to finance a movie with an 80 year-old lead. Apparently they think there's no way the character can still work, that Peter Falk is too old and he can't possibly have the edge or energy to pull off Columbo now. Obviously, they're sadly wrong.
posted by miss lynnster (72 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is this a kissing post?
posted by knave at 4:03 PM on March 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


Umm, what does that mean???
posted by miss lynnster at 4:06 PM on March 28, 2007


I ♥ Columbo but PeterFalk.com needs a serious redesign.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:06 PM on March 28, 2007


Besides, you're too classy a woman.
posted by phaedon at 4:07 PM on March 28, 2007


a Columbo movie would be a hit
posted by zouhair at 4:08 PM on March 28, 2007


Thanks, have a nice day. Oh, just one more question, nothing important...
posted by sourwookie at 4:09 PM on March 28, 2007


Oh, Peter Falk. I'd hit it.

(And by "hit it," I mean "engage in sexual intercourse.")

I'm still googly-eyed over his appearance in Wings of Desire. Hottie McHottentot.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:13 PM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


His memoir ("Just One More Thing") is delightful.
Fun post!
posted by Dizzy at 4:13 PM on March 28, 2007


and "Robin and the 7 hoods" to boot. Actually I don't know why im throwing this in. Something about Sammy Davis doing his best Scarface imitation towards the end of the clip.
posted by phaedon at 4:13 PM on March 28, 2007


spent some bank, I got a high powered jumbo /
rolled up a wooly and I watched Columbo /
Let me clear my throat

posted by drjimmy11 at 4:16 PM on March 28, 2007


I think this Parisian site was quite possibly my favorite internet find of the day. I mean... on so many levels it kills me.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:19 PM on March 28, 2007


It's a bummer that he can't get the movie made. But Clint Eastwood was born in 1930, and he seems to get his films financed.

It's more likely that the film can't get made because no producers think it would make them a profit, or because Falk's health makes insurance prohibitively expensive.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:22 PM on March 28, 2007


One of the best things in Wim Wender's Wings Of Desire.
posted by docpops at 4:23 PM on March 28, 2007


Is this a kissing post?

Someday, you may not mind so much.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 4:24 PM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think Peter Falk is just great. Columbo was pretty cheesy with 'guest stars', but fun. For real Peter Falk goodness see him in John Cassavettes' Husbands, or A Woman Under the Influence. Or, the original Columbo episode, Prescription for Murder.
Thanks for the post!
posted by nj_subgenius at 4:25 PM on March 28, 2007


Amusing little post! Oh, and that "faux-lumbo" guy is priceless. Now would you hit that, bitter-girl?
posted by Siberian Mist at 4:26 PM on March 28, 2007


Heard that years ago they made an "Ironside" feature but it went straight to video.
Strong opening, but it had no legs.



Whaddya want, I'm covered in Zweiback goo...
posted by Dizzy at 4:27 PM on March 28, 2007


Since you mentioned it, it looks like all of Husbands is on youtube.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:28 PM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


When Falk played Sam Diamond in Neil Simon's Murder by Death (1976), sending up both his Columbo character and the Sam Spade flicks, he was smack in the middle of the series' run. Some of his dialogue, especially with the wonderful Eileen Brennan as Tess Skeffington, was priceless:
Sam Diamond: The lady here in the rented dress is my secretary and mistress, Miss Tess Skeffington.
. . .
Tess Skeffington: I don't feel good about this, Sam. Maybe tonight's the night your luck runs out.
Sam Diamond: Maybe so. There's a number on the wall for all of us, angel, and if tonight's the night they pick mine, so be it. After you, sweetheart.
. . .
Sam Diamond: Now, if one of you gentlemen would be so kind as to give my lady friend here a glass of cheap white wine, I'm going down the hall to find the can. I talk so much sometimes, I forget to go.
. . .
Sam Diamond: I get fifty dollars a day plus expenses when I can get 'em, gentleman. And I owe Miss Skeffington here three years and two month's back pay. Isn't that right, angel?
Tess Skeffington: I don't care about the money, Sam.
Sam Diamond: Neither do I.
posted by rob511 at 4:31 PM on March 28, 2007


Can we get him to run against Fred Thompson for president?
posted by liam at 4:34 PM on March 28, 2007


Falk in the In-Laws is genius.

"Serpentine!"

And he was effortless in Wings of Desire.
posted by dglynn at 4:37 PM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Since Wednesday is Sucky TV Night, I think we might have to pull out the ol' Wings of Desire...

(it'll go well with pork roast and spaetzle -- mmm, German-y).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:39 PM on March 28, 2007


I really loved the interview on the "likeable" link. He talked about how he was arrested in Cuba for looking like a Castro sympathizer... what a life he's had. I actually sat next to him in a restaurant in Beverly Hills about 5 or so years ago. I was doing some work and sitting by myself, and he sat down by himself at the next table & started reading the paper. I was really excited... he's one of the cooler celeb sightings I could wish for. And then I looked down at his feet. The man was wearing clogs. No, seriously. He was wearing clogs. And no socks. And mind you, I hate clogs, but that he was wearing them made me love him. And not mind clogs. The man's got some rebellious style going on. I wish they'd fund his movie.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:54 PM on March 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm a big Peter Falk fan. I remember watching Columbo on Iranian televsion as a kid, where it was immensely popular. The show was dubbed in Farsi, and the person who did Columbo's voice affected a comical Rashti accent (Rasht is a city in Northern Iran), which somehow fit Columbo's character perfectly.

Falk is great as Columbo and wonderful in just about every film he's been in, from Cassavetes' masterpieces to Jon Favreau's Made, in which he was the best thing about the whole movie. As for his pencil drawings, eh, I'm not exactly bowled over. I would definitely see the Columbo movie if it ever got made. I wonder if the studios reluctance is due to his age/health, because he seems to be in pretty good health (despite being an 80 year smoker), at least to me.
posted by Devils Slide at 4:59 PM on March 28, 2007


That last link was hilarious.
posted by nightchrome at 5:12 PM on March 28, 2007


Predictions:
1) There will be a Columbo movie
2) It will star Ben Stiller
3) It will suck like nothing has ever sucked before.
posted by swell at 5:13 PM on March 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


'They're sadly they're wrong' clip was so funny. Perfect.
If the man can remember his lines, hell give him the role and 8 hour shooting days.
posted by alicesshoe at 5:15 PM on March 28, 2007


Since it's rare I get to discuss Wings of Desire with folks, let me derail a bit - do you think he sets Damiel up? Sometimes I watch it and think that he's an allegory for the snake, others I believe Wim Wenders assertion that he is there to assist in the transformation.

Sometimes when I watch the movie there's an ominous, almost creepy aspect to his "I can't see you, but I know you're there" spiel.. I think it's when he tries it again on Cassiel, and Cassiel gets that look on his face.

That "oh, it's you" face.
posted by illovich at 5:20 PM on March 28, 2007


"To this day"? His last Columbo move was a mere 4 years ago (and again three years before that).
posted by DU at 5:32 PM on March 28, 2007


D'oh--the "to this day" referred to something else. Still, with the latest movie still in recent memory, the claim that they'll never ever ever ever EVAR do another movie sounds more like hype for an omgcomeback than anything else.
posted by DU at 5:34 PM on March 28, 2007


Since it's rare I get to discuss Wings of Desire with folks, let me derail a bit - do you think he sets Damiel up? Sometimes I watch it and think that he's an allegory for the snake, others I believe Wim Wenders assertion that he is there to assist in the transformation.

Sometimes when I watch the movie there's an ominous, almost creepy aspect to his "I can't see you, but I know you're there" spiel.. I think it's when he tries it again on Cassiel, and Cassiel gets that look on his face.


I never saw him as sinister. He just seemed to put a benign, accesible face on the fallen angel paradigm. But I haven't seen it in awhile.
posted by docpops at 5:36 PM on March 28, 2007


I love Columbo for its class warfare. Who is the murderer? He's the symphony conductor/wine merchant/CEO/sailor. Who catches the murderer? The short ethnic guy in the ill-fitting clothes. Columbo was about class and power, as Star Trek was about race relations and as The Brady Bunch was about punishment for pride.
posted by ferdydurke at 5:39 PM on March 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


He had a great cameo as a belligerent cabdriver in It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.
posted by evilcolonel at 5:42 PM on March 28, 2007


I'd hit it.
posted by taosbat at 5:54 PM on March 28, 2007


Let's not forget Falk as the narrator of The Princess Bride. But Columbo transcended the TV of his time, thanks to the strength of the character (and the way he played it). I'll never forget his going to interview a rich suspect at a super-fancy restaurant and ordering chile ("...with the beans, without the beans, it doesn't matter...").
posted by QuietDesperation at 5:56 PM on March 28, 2007


I would not only watch such a TV movie, I would reward all of its sponsors by buying all of their products.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:57 PM on March 28, 2007


And let's not forget the grandfather in The Princess Bride.

"As you wish."
posted by phliar at 5:58 PM on March 28, 2007


Didn't they name a yoghurt brand after the Falk character?
posted by Postroad at 6:02 PM on March 28, 2007


Or as the old man reading the story to his grandson in that one movie about the shrieking eels.
posted by hal9k at 6:24 PM on March 28, 2007


A Woman Under the Influence is so damn good.
So is Wings of Desire.
And The Princess Bride.
And Murder By Death.
And Madx5 World.

Jeez.

I never realized how much I must like Peter Falk.
posted by painquale at 6:32 PM on March 28, 2007


I love Peter Falk. What a great guy he is - talented actor and fantastic sense of humour. I did an interview with him not too long ago - it was hilarious and he was a real joy to listen to.

I rarely go to the movies, but I'd go see a new Columbo flick just to support the thing! The stories he told about the series were fantastic.
posted by perilous at 6:40 PM on March 28, 2007


Some of his art was for sale on Royal in New Orleans. It was exquisite.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:41 PM on March 28, 2007


Falk art?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:48 PM on March 28, 2007


My favorite Columbo episode is still Sex and the Married Detective with a Lindsay Crouse that could melt glass. Kate Mulgrew was hot as Mrs. Columbo too. Yes, later she had a more successful stint as Captain Janeway on ST:Voyager. Same actress.

Unfortunately, here's what's gonna happen. They might get one more Columbo outta Peter Falk, then Dobbs bless'm, the guy's gonna go to that police precinct in the sky. His last stint will at best be a fan favorite, but it won't pay for itself. This is why no one's willing to invest in it.

After Falk dies, the Industry will give a socially acceptable amount of time before they publically announce they're gonna recast the role and start a motion picture franchise. How much time is socially acceptable? Not much. The Industry started working on Smallville while Christopher Reeve was still alive, and were already in production of the movie Superman Returns when he died. Of course, he wasn't obviously willing or capable of playing the role that made him famous in the 80s.

Falk can still do it. The problem is do enough people wanna see him do it again? Currently the Industry can't afford to take risks like it used to. It's playing it safe, and there's only one man alive today who I think can play the role of Columbo, make it his own, and still do justice to Falk's exquisite work.

To be honest though, Why would the guy want the part? Unless Columbo would be for Tony Shaloub what James Bond was for Pierce Brosnan?

...

Oh. One more thing. Steve Jobs should owe Peter Falk a million dollars for every time he's said, "one more thing."
posted by ZachsMind at 6:50 PM on March 28, 2007




PS.

Friends don't let friends use FrontPage.
posted by taosbat at 6:57 PM on March 28, 2007


PPS.

Is this a kissing post?
Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss me love
Just one kiss, kiss will do
Kiss ,kiss, kiss, kiss me love
Just one kiss, kiss will do

Why death
Why life
Warm hearts
Cold darts

Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss me love
I'm bleeding inside

It's a long, long story to tell
And I can only show you my hell

Touch, touch, touch, touch me love
Just one touch, touch will do
Touch, touch, touch, touch me love
Just one touch, touch will do

Why me
Why you
Broken mirror
White terror

Touch, touch, touch, touch me love
I'm shaking inside

It's that faint, faint sound of the childhood bell
Ringing in my soul

Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss me love
Just one kiss, kiss will do

yoko ono
posted by taosbat at 7:09 PM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


One of the best things in Wim Wender's Wings Of Desire.

Yes, and Wings of Desire has many "best things".
posted by neuron at 7:32 PM on March 28, 2007


Oh, Peter Falk. I'd hit it.

(And by "hit it," I mean "engage in sexual intercourse.")


Must be the cigar.
posted by jonmc at 7:33 PM on March 28, 2007


the video in the "unconventional" link has an obvious and, in context, ironic example of olde tymey overdubbing. MRS STAFFORD
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:54 PM on March 28, 2007


Spielberg got his start directing a Columbo. Written by a young Steve Bochco. Starring David Cassidy's father.
posted by vronsky at 8:09 PM on March 28, 2007


I once saw an interview with Peter Falk where he talked about this young director they had hired out of film school for the Columbo show.

He came up with this idea of filming a scene with a camera hidden in a van. So the actors would walk down the street talking and real people would be walking by without realizing that a television show was being filmed.

This young director was Steven Spielberg. After making a number of classic Columbo's, he went on to do other things.
posted by eye of newt at 8:13 PM on March 28, 2007


Correction: (after reading vronsky's post) Spielberg just directed the Columbo premier "Murder by the Book"
posted by eye of newt at 8:25 PM on March 28, 2007


I'd watch another Columbo in a heartbeat. And he's a sweet, sweet guy and a wonderful artist to boot. *kiss kiss*
posted by maryh at 8:27 PM on March 28, 2007


I probably don't have this quote right, but...

"Nobody move! I gotta go to the crapper! I don't wanna miss nothin'!"

(Death by Murder)
posted by Flunkie at 8:29 PM on March 28, 2007


Errr, I mean Murder by Death.
posted by Flunkie at 8:30 PM on March 28, 2007


So painquale, how much do you like Corky Romano?

Perhaps Kevin Murphy (in A Year At The Movies) said it best when he explained what the danger of that was, that Peter Falk could die next year, and all the obituaries would have to report that his last movie had been Corky Romano!

You know, Raul Julia syndrome.
posted by JHarris at 10:29 PM on March 28, 2007


Well, except that according to IMDB he has been involved in 13 projects since then. That aside, I'm pretty sure his obituaries are going to focus on Columbo & Princess Bride & stuff, though. I find it difficult to believe that anyone would be so heartless or short-sighted as to declare Corky Romano as Peter Falk's legacy to the world.
Chris Kattan, on the other hand, has it coming.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:43 PM on March 28, 2007


Is this a kissing post?

Umm, what does that mean???


miss lynnster
- it's a quote from Princess Bride - when Fred Savage's character interrupts Falk's character while he's reading a romantic part of the book.
posted by tzikeh at 11:07 PM on March 28, 2007


Oh yeah. Corky Romano. That movie with all the jokes about the fat gay mobster.

It's no Wings of Desire.
posted by painquale at 11:24 PM on March 28, 2007


Grat Post. Falk Rocks.
posted by Elmore at 11:30 PM on March 28, 2007


Yeah, I finally got that whole "kissing post" thing. I actually DO have the Princess Bride memorized but I was just being slow.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:46 PM on March 28, 2007


Great post - thanks! I have always loved Peter Falk. He is a role model to cyclops, and gave me hope (and ammunition in arguments with my father when I was a kid) that people with wonky eyes could be as well respected as other actors. His story gives hope to civil servants everywhere too.
posted by goo at 3:05 AM on March 29, 2007


The great character actor Thomas Mitchell played Columbo before Peter Falk did, but on stage. You might remember Mitchell as Scarlett O'Hara's father in Gone with the Wind, the drunken doctor in Stagecoach, Jean Arthur's tipsy journalist pal in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and the pilot who gets grounded by Cary Grant in Only Angels Have Wings--all, incidentally, from the same year, 1939. I bet his Columbo was a hoot.
posted by Man-Thing at 4:38 AM on March 29, 2007


And let's not forget the grandfather in The Princess Bride.

Ha! Knave didn't, and neither did Saucy Intruder. But Miss Lynnster did, and you kind of missed it, but thankfully, tzlkey broke it down for us.
posted by Tommy Gnosis at 9:06 AM on March 29, 2007


I remembered that he was the grandfather in PB (and I too have the movie memorized. Would anybody like a peanut? Incontheivable. To blaaave.), I just didn't make the "Is this a kissing book" connection because my brain was still tired from making the post. I actually e-mailed to ask knave because I KNEW I was lamely missing something I shouldn't have. And I was. ;)

As for Thomas Mitchell, he was also Uncle Billy in It's a Wonderful Life. Apparently he was the Foster Brooks of 1930s-1950s movies. Do you know -- was his Columbo on the sauce all the time too?
posted by miss lynnster at 9:16 AM on March 29, 2007


No excuses necessary, miss lynster, it's a terrific post.

Other than Columbo -- which was the only time I was allowed to stay up late on Sunday nights -- I also thought he was genius in the original In-Laws. I was very saddened to see that movie remade horribly in the last couple years.
posted by psmealey at 12:08 PM on March 29, 2007


I'd like thank Peter Falk for offering comfort to my Grandfather before he died.
posted by Arthur at 4:27 PM on March 29, 2007


Hmmm. "I can't see you, but I know you're there" versus "in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." I'm going to have to think about that one. Especially in context of what eventually befalls Cassiel.

The devil is a gentleman, after all. But a gentleman named Columbo?
posted by eritain at 10:02 PM on March 29, 2007


I was walking down the hall today and thinking about this post and I caught my reflection in a pane of glass and suddenly I realized, my personal style is totally Columbo. The wrinkled shirt, the necktie, the rumpled hair, the perpetually skeptical hardboiled expression - that's how I roll, all day every day.

I'd drop everything and see this movie in a heartbeat. But even if they don't make it, look out, because I'm bringing Columbo back.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:30 PM on March 29, 2007


Not since I saw most of Columbo back to back with the first 3 Star Wars films on a local cable channel circa 2000 have I felt this much love for Peter F.

It was an interesting choice of programming, to be sure, but what made it for me was the way they advertised the event as The Millenium Falk-On in the listings...
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:41 AM on March 30, 2007


I got twenty bucks for the paypal Colombo movie account. Who's in?
posted by MapGuy at 4:43 AM on March 30, 2007


« Older A supertree showing mammalian evolution   |   Stupid Management Tricks at Circuit City Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments