Sunday, July 19, 2020

Works of Art and Avarice

After slightly more than a month, it all comes down to this. The Columbophile this morning presents the final installment in its 10-part countdown of “The 100 Greatest Columbo Scenes of the 1970s.”

Last weekend’s penultimate entry in this series showcased clips from Season 7’s “Make Me a Perfect Murder,” with Trish Van Devere and Laurence Luckinbill; “Candidate for Crime,” a Season 3 story in which Jackie Cooper played a politician-killer; and two scenes from one of my all-time-favorite episodes, Season 4’s “Negative Reaction,” including the fabulous “gotcha” moment with guest star Dick Van Dyke.

For today’s finale, we’re offered 10 clips that should ring strong bells with any avid Columbo watcher. “Every scene you see listed below,” explains The Columbophile’s anonymous author, “cropped up in the top 20 lists of multiple members of the expert panel, with the top 4 moments particularly strongly represented. When you see them, I’m sure you’ll agree that some of the finest moments in the history of television have been chronicled here.” Among those moments: what we’re told is “Peter Falk’s own favourite scene from his favourite Columbo episode,” Season 3’s “Any Old Port in a Storm,” guest-starring Donald Pleasence; the cat-and-mouse segment from the figurative first pilot for this series, the 1968 telefilm Prescription: Murder, in which Lieutenant Columbo and an arrogant psychiatrist played by Gene Barry discuss the “hypothetical murderer” of the psychiatrist’s wife; director Steven Spielberg’s elegantly orchestrated and wordless opening from the first regular episode of Columbo, “Murder by the Book” (September 15, 1971); and the famous “gloved-hand reveal” from “Suitable for Framing,” another Season 1 installment, in which Wild Wild West veteran Ross Martin is shown conclusively to have slain his wealthy art collector uncle.

The Columbophile and its 11-member authoritative jury are to be commended for assembling a splendid, nostalgic retrospective on one of the finest crime dramas ever to grace the small screen. If you missed any of these posts, click here to catch up.

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