Saturday, June 25, 2011

just one more thing ...

Like many, I grew up with Columbo, the rumpled, supposedly forgetful, always sly and wise television detective. My dad loved Peter Falk and the show and the rest of the family grew to look forward to watching him too. But Falk was much more than his cigar-smoking, just rolled out of bed looking, basset hound owning, Old Hollywood star arresting, character. I haven't seen any of these in ages, but I can still remember enjoying watching him chase down murderers Roddy MacDowall, Leonard Nimoy, Louis Jourdan, Ray Milland, William Shatner, best buddy John Cassavetes, and frequent co-star Patrick McGoohan.

Columbo frequently liked the murderers he's after, too. "They're nice people."

Everyone knows about his glass eye, lost in a childhood bout with cancer. And that he appeared in quite a few of Cassavetes's films, including Husbands, Mikey and Nicky, and A Woman Under the Influence.

But many of his other roles in films have resonated as much, if not more, than these classic roles for me:

I have always loved him as a comedic side-kick, in such films as The Great Race, Pocketful of Miracles, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, and Robin and the Seven Hoods.

He is wonderful as the wise grandfather who narrates The Princess Bride.

He is an absolute angel in Wim Wenders's beautiful Wings of Desire. "I can't see you, but I know you're here."

Falk apparently suffered from dementia in recent years, which adds a sad note of irony to his iconic character, the memory-challenged Columbo. Falk himself was always memorable and delightful to watch.

R.I.P. Peter Falk ♥♥♥
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