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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 29, 2011 / 27 Sivan, 5771

‘Just One More Thing …’

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Thomas Friedman was right. The world is flat, or at least it seemed so last week when the news came that Peter Falk, aka Columbo, had died at 83. For 30 of those years, he had regularly delighted television audiences as a not-as-dumb-as-he-looks detective. Every third week, he invariably caught the killer, who of course was depicted as the very soul of sophistication, and at the end of the show wound up as surprised as viewers weren't to find that this cop wid a working-class accent had outwitted him.

We never learned the fictional Columbo's first name, or if he had one -- I think it was Lieutenant -- but I definitely envied him his beat-up old car, a classic Peugeot, which had the appeal of the authentically well worn, almost outworn.

For the same reason, I've always yearned for the kind of crumpled linen suit of indeterminate shape that Charles Laughton wore as the classic very Southern senator, Seb Cooley of South Carolina, in the movie version of "Advise and Consent." Some outfits have a life of their own, speaking at least as convincingly as the actors. When it comes to communicating, they can beat all the dialogue in a predictable script.

Columbo himself sported a nondescript raincoat from maybe the '50s, It might have been hanging in a closet -- the back of a cramped closet -- for the intervening decades gathering wrinkles, absorbing grease spots, becoming eminently forgettable, and generally acquiring character.

I've got a hat like that and love its every well-earned crease and smudge. A friend calls it my "Go to Hell" hat, and it looks as if it's been there and back.

Columbo's trademark phrase was always reserved till the end of some crucial interview with the slick villain, who should always have been played by Louis Calhern at his oiliest. Offered in the manner of just an offhand afterthought, Columbo's phrase prefaces the question that will unravel the killer's well-planned alibi.

"Aaaaah … Just one more thing," Columbo would say, turning around after he'd already started to leave the suspect's mansion/luxurious hotel suite/hunting lodge. Then he'd throw out the key question like a hunter putting out a bear trap. Or like some congressional investigator making casual conversation. ("I didn't know you had an interest in birding, Mr. Hiss. Did you ever happen to see a prothonotary warbler?" Or, in more contemporary times. "Sir, would you remember if Miss Lewinsky had a blue dress?")

In Columbo's case, the "just one more thing" would come across as but another sign of his disheveled, absent-minded and generally inept persona. And therefore completely disarm the suspect. For how could a slob like that pose any threat to a clever villain?

Columbo was the kind of gumshoe who would reach into a tattered pocket for a telling piece of evidence … and fish out last week's shopping list. Steady viewers weren't caught off guard, but for some reason the bad guy always was. (Maybe he was too cultured to have watched much television.) The, aaaaah, just one more thing would always prove the thing. And just as inevitably, our shabby hero would emerge triumphant in the last scene.

Peter Falk's disarming manner wouldn't have been half so convincing without the cockeyed look he gave Columbo, which was no act at all. He'd lost an eye at an early age (a case of childhood cancer) and wore one of glass, which in unreal life had a way of popping up in strange places, like in a glass of gin that the great jazz pianist Art Tatum had been drinking.

The prosthesis only added to Peter Falk's unlikely charm. Anybody who's ever had a New Yorker for a brother-in-law will be familiar with the general character, and the whole, gritty milieu of Gotham that Peter Folk could invoke with just one glassy look.

The actor came by his fictional persona honestly, having been a cook in the merchant marine and generally the kind of hard worker who makes his talent seem natural. The result was that, whenever Hollywood needed a character with street smarts and a certain farcical appeal, Peter Falk got the part. And not just in comedies, for he was a craftsman whose work shone in John Cassavete's realistic films "Husbands" and "A Woman Under the Influence." Life without him will be a little flatter till just one more thing occurs: There are always the re-runs.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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