June 24, 2011

Peter Falk — the man "everybody falls in love with" — has died at the age of 83.

He'd been suffering fron Alzheimer's disease. The quote in the post title is from John Cassavetes, who directed 2 of my favorite Peter Falk movies, "A Woman Under the Influence" and "Husbands."

Here's an amazing scene from "A Woman Under the Influence" with Gena Rowlands:

And here's a scene that has made me laugh for more than 30 years. (It plays with the audio slightly out of synch, but please put up with that. Palladian synched the audio.)


Toad Trend said...

He played the amiable, disarming detective dunce better than anyone.

Colombo was a favorite.

Seeing Red said...



Martin L. Shoemaker said...

I know he had a wide body of work, but I'll always think of "Just one more thing..." No more.

Seeing Red said...

Professor Fate: Push the button, Max!

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)

Professor Fate: Push the button, Max!

My mother was an extra in that film…we loved that line….

Michael said...

The Cassavettes work was his best, no question. The ensemble of Ben Gazzara, Peter Falk and Cassavetes was outstanding and each member was brilliant. Rest in Peace, Peter.

The Crack Emcee said...

"Just one more thing..."

You're busted, asshole. There were few television shows I liked more, growing up, than Colombo. A portrait of a smart, decent, unpretentious man.

Two nice portraits of women you've got there, Ann. Care to let me in on where they fit into your feminist view of life - and what a man is supposed to do with either of them?

But, especially, the Shar Pei.

Ann Althouse said...

"Two nice portraits of women you've got there, Ann. Care to let me in on where they fit into your feminist view of life - and what a man is supposed to do with either of them?"

These are fiction movies, with fabulous acting. There's no "view" to be had.

"No work of art ever puts forward views. Views belong to people who are not artists.'' — Oscar Wilde.

Lem said...

I've found Cassavetes work too melodramatic.. maybe it has to do with the fact that it was another era.. But out his stable of actors Peter Falk was arguably the best.

Most of the time in his movies Cassavetes seems to be just observing.. like waiting for something to happen.

For similar but better work I've found Henry Jaglom's work to be much better.

Ann Althouse said...

"One workday, while we were waiting to shoot, Roman was discoursing about the impossibility of long-term monogamy given the brevity of a man's sexual attraction to any woman. An impassioned John Cassavetes responded that Roman knew nothing about women, or relationships, and that he, John, was more attracted than ever to his wife, Gena Rowlands. Roman stared at him and blinked a few times, and for once had no reply."


Carol_Herman said...

Had one eye. And, wore his raincoat just about right! Sloppily.

And, he could make believe he was exiting a room. Turn around, looking sort'a puzzled. While deciding what card to toss out of his poker hand.

Solved crimes.

But it was fiction.

May he rest in peace.

Phil 314 said...

For me Peter Falk will first conjure an image of grandpa saying "As you wish" (I watched that movie so many times with my kids)

And as the "fallen angel" in "Der Himmel uber Berlin" ("Wings of Desire" in American release)

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

I got my mom the complete Columbo collection last year, and watched a lot of them with her. I realized that the overarching theme was "The snobs vs. the slob." Mom kept observing how the criminals and usually the victims had such large, beautiful homes; and I realized as an adult what I didn't notice as a kid. These were the elites. His betters. How dare he try to hold them accountable?

The Crack Emcee said...

I'm learning to love when you're slippery.

I've met both of those women - in real life - which (in conjunction with your views) is why I asked.

And I couldn't agree with Cassavetes more. Loved his movies.

MadisonMan said...

Mom always liked Gena Rowlands because they were at the UW here in Madison at the same time.

Ann Althouse said...

"I've met both of those women - in real life - which (in conjunction with your views) is why I asked."

The question doesn't make any sense to me in the form you've asked it. You assume I have a view and that I apply it in watching and thinking about fiction movies. And you ask me what a fictional character is "supposed to do" with another fictional character. I'm not the screenwriter and the script is already written. If I were the writer, and I'd gotten that far, my answer would be: something interesting/funny/dramatic.

MadisonMan said...

(although she wasn't in Gamma Phi like My mom was)

prairie wind said...

The message in Columbo was that Columbo was the 'better.' The audience loved that because we all had shabby raincoats, too. The audience--because we are Columbo--loves knowing that in the end, we will be better than the snob who committed the murder.

As entertainment, Columbo's sloppiness wouldn't have been seen as quirky if he were investigating murders among other slobs.

Peter Falk = the grandpa in The Princess Bride, as Phil3:14 said. Tender, patient, loving. I hope he was like that in real life, too. I don't want to know if he was not.

Freeman Hunt said...

When I was a kid I hoped to grow up to have Columbo's personality.

I'm still rather hoping for that with age.

The Crack Emcee said...


The question doesn't make any sense to me in the form you've asked it.

Fine - then change the form and answer it accordingly.

And, before you demand that I rephrase it, go ahead and have a whack at it.

Anonymous said...

Peter Falk and Patrick McGoohan were good friends. Falk cast McGoohan in (I think) five of the Columbo movies, usually as the villain.

Patrick said...

I always watch him in The Princess Bride with a great deal of fondness. I never knew my own grandparents, but he played the role of a grandfather quite like I always imagined a grampa would be.

edutcher said...

Columbo, which was originally written for Thomas Mitchell, was not his beast work. It was something of a one trick pony.

He was a very distinctive character actor in the 50s; one role was a "Have Gun, Will Travel" as a crooked, vengeful gambler who wore bottle-bottom glasses. Surprisingly chilling.

He also did a series in the mid-60s, "The trials of O'Brien", in which he played a divorced, boozing, somewhat shysterish, pony-playing lawyer. Interesting comedy drama that seemed more him than Columbo

virgil xenophon said...

Now only Ben Gazzara is left..

FWIW one of Gazerra's little known (and hard to find) but better works is a favorite of this Vietnam vet. A 1976 work titled "High Velocity" w. co-star buddy Paul Winfield about mercenaries and filmed in the Philipines. Check out the reviews at the IMDB!

virgil xenophon said...

BTW, if you want to see all three --Gazarra, Falk, Casavettes--together in a really fine "buddy" film, check out the 1970 film "Husbands." A very unusual work.

Palladian said...

Althouse, you posted this clip from "Husbands" years ago, and I corrected the out-of-synch audio and re-uploaded it.

traditionalguy said...

Falk could say more with his face and eyes than most women could. He had the inverse of Clint Eastwood's demeanor. And yes, everybody loved him.

Mr. Buford said...

Murder By Death - Columbo doing Sam Diamond or Sam Diamond doing Columbo...doesn't matter, a fun movie.
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.'

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Palladian reveals yet more hidden talents! Thanks!

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Palladian. I had a feeling I'd blogged that before -- the feeling of blog-a vu — but I'd forgotten you fixed that.

Ann Althouse said...

"Fine - then change the form and answer it accordingly."

Okay. I change the question to: What's your favorite color? Answer: Purple!

Fred4Pres said...

Peter Falk in Wings of Desire.

I liked him a lot. He was a very good actor. RIP.

yashu said...

Love Falk & love Cassavettes. RIP. Rowlands is still alive, no? Love her too.

The quote Althouse linked to (2:08pm) caught my attention too, when she first posted it, back when all the Polanski stuff was in the news. I remember thinking: so then Polanski's (very dark) Bitter Moon is in some ways a psychological self-portrait, disclosing his own dark feelings re relationships.

Cassavettes & Rowlands, on the other hand, have always represented an ideal of love & marriage to me.

Speaking of the surviving members of the Cassevettes repertory company, hope Seymour Cassel lives many more years. He's so good in Wes Anderson's movies. And was so great with Rowlands in Minnie & Moscowitz (speaking of great/ strange/ fucked-up love, a Cassavettes specialty).

Deborah M. said...

I had a professor who was much like Columbo/Peter Falk. Looked like him, sounded like him, had the same self-deprecating manner...and was a philosophy professor. I had an intense crush on him, because I loved Peter Falk.

William said...

That scene with the old woman is what happens when someone with a dirty mind tries to hit the Fellini notes......In his early films, Falk had an air of quiet menace. But after Colombo, it was impossible to see him as a thug with a streak of violence barely under control......Tony Perkins was so good in Psycho that henceforth no one believed in him as a romantic lead. Falk was so good in Colombo that henceforth it was impossible to accept him as a heavy.......Sullivan of Gilbert & Sullivan always wanted to write important orchestral works. He felt that such work was worthy of his talent. He quit G &S to do so. Those works are little remembered today.... I don't know what Falk's ambitions were, but my guess is that at one time he was trying to out Brando Brando. I don't think cuddly was ever something he practiced at the Actor's Studio, but there you have it. Here lies the man who would be capo, mourned by children, loved by all, feared by none.

Saint Croix said...

Goodbye, Columbo.

Chase said...

"As you wish". One of the greatest movie lines ever, delivered perfectly by the always perfect Peter Falk.

Does ANY other movie have as many memorable lines as The Princess Bride?

Grandson: "A book?"
Grandpa (Peter Falk): "That's right. When I was your age, television was called books."

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. "

"He's right on top of us. I wonder if he is using the same wind we are using"

"You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is "never get involved in a land war in Asia" - but only slightly less well-known is this: "Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line"!"

And of course

"Mawwaige. Mawwaige is what bwings us . . . togever".

Chase said...

The original "The In-Laws" with Peter Falk and Alan Arkin is quite possibly in the top 10 movies ever made.

JAL said...

Chase -- I was having a crappy day a long time ago. Husband and I were headed to the movies and ended up at The In-Laws.

I laughed so hard I was almost on the floor.

"Zig zag!!!"

JAL said...

The Columbo style will last for many years.

One of my profs in graduate school (masters - mental health) recommended the "Columbo" approach to some clients.

More recently another teacher (whole different discipline) codified the "Columbo" approach to getting and delivering information on a flash card.


Yeah. Loved him in Princess Bride and Columbo, and intrigued when I see him from time to time in other work.

One of a kind.

The Crack Emcee said...

Isn't it wild:

We've all agreed on something - the work of Peter Falk.

victoria said...

Totally brilliantly talented man. At his best when he was with Cassavetes. I worked at Universal Studios in the mid '70's when he was working on Colombo. I was a mere tour guide, working my way through college and he was "Colombo". A kind and gentle man, always had time to sign autographs, pose for pictures and generally talk to the tours. Lovely lovely. I will love him, James Garner and Dennis Weaver forever for the sweet lovely people they were, and with Garner that he still is.

Miss you, Peter. Say hi to John for me and Gena.

Vicki from Pasadena

victoria said...

Had the distinction also, of being in the last movie that Frank Capra directed. "Pocket full of Miracles." A funny guy, too.


victoria said...

I loved the "Trials of O'Brien" too.


Dixie Burge said...

edutcher, Columbo was originally written for Bert Freed, the first actor to play the part, for an episode of The Chevy Mystery Theater in 1959. It was called "Enough Rope" and was adapted for the stage where Thomas Mitchell (Uncle Billy in It's A Wonderful Life) played Columbo, and was called "Prescription: Murder." Then in 1968, Prescription: Murder was made into a TV movie with Falk as Columbo, although he was not first choice--Bing Crosby(!) was. Then it was offered to Lee J. Cobb, who turned it down. Falk wanted the part badly, but the producers thought he was too young, but he persisted and the rest, as they say, is history!

Dixie Burge said...

Falk also has the distinction of being the first actor to be nominated for an Academy Award and an Emmy Award in the same year (1960), and then did it AGAIN the following year!