Sad news – Peter Falk died on Thursday, age 83, after bringing us countless joys with his performances.
Columbo is a timeless character, a kind of blind-seer, a wise-idiot, or a court jester who gets away with bringing down the powerful because he allows himself to seem so harmless to them for so long. He can speak truth to power because he has everything he needs – his old car, his old dog, his old raincoat, his old cigar, and Mrs Columbo. And the chili at his favorite diner.
The In-Laws, with Alan Arkin, is one of the funniest movies ever made. To this day, if someone yells ‘serpentine! serpentine!’ it’ll bring on a fit of giggles of embarrassing duration. In that film, Falk’s character was also unprepossessing – his about to be in-law, Arkin, cannot believe what Falk’s character is saying is true, what he’s doing is real, even as they get in deeper and deeper trouble.
And of course – the Grandfather, the storyteller in Princess Bride. A small, perfect performance that grounds the whole film in a sense of true humanity.
Read more about Peter Falk’s career here.