BRUCE WEBER “Peter Falk, Rumpled and Crafty Actor in Television’s ‘Columbo,’ Dies at 83” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/25/arts/television/peter-falk-columbo-actor-dies-at-83.html
NYTの記事でもそうなのだが、ピーター･フォークといえば〈コロンボ〉ということなのだが、以前にも書いた通り、『ベルリン天使の詩』、それから『ブリンクス（Brink’s Job）』と（ロバート･アルドリッチの遺作でもある）『カリフォルニア・ドールズ』*2はMust See。それから、ニール・サイモン脚本でMurder by Deathというのがあったのだ。タイトルだけ見ると、普通のミステリー映画という感じなのだが、実はミステリーというジャンルそのものをパロディ化したようなコメディ。ピーター・フォークのほかに、作家のトルーマン・カポーティ、ピーター・セラーズ、アレック・ギネス、デヴィッド・ニーヴンなども出ている。日本でのタイトルは『名探偵登場』だが、原題よりも日本でのタイトルの方が優れているという珍しい映画でもある。
But Mr. Falk’s prime-time popularity, like that of his contemporary Telly Savalas, of “Kojak” fame, was founded on a single role.
A lieutenant in the Los Angeles Police Department, Columbo was a comic variation on the traditional fictional detective. With the keen mind of Sherlock Holmes and Philip Marlowe, he was cast in the mold of neither ― not a gentleman scholar, not a tough guy. He was instead a mass of quirks and peculiarities, a seemingly distracted figure in a rumpled raincoat, perpetually patting his pockets for a light for his signature stogie.
He drove a battered Peugeot, was unfailingly polite, was sometimes accompanied by a basset hound named Dog, and was constantly referring to the wisdom of his wife (who was never seen on screen) and a variety of relatives and acquaintances who were identified in Homeric-epithet-like shorthand ― an uncle who played the bagpipes with the Shriners, say, or a nephew majoring in dermatology at U.C.L.A. ― and who were called to mind by the circumstances of the crime at hand.
It was a low-rent affect that was especially irksome to the high-society murderers he outwitted in episode after episode. In the detective-story niche where Columbo lived, whodunit was hardly the point; the murder was committed and the murderer revealed in the show’s opening minutes. How it was done was paramount. Typically, Columbo would string his suspects along, flattering them, apologizing profusely for continuing to trouble them with questions, appearing to have bought their alibis and, just before making an exit, nailing them with a final, damning query that he unfailingly introduced with the innocent-sounding phrase, “Just one more thing ....” It was the signal to viewers that the jig was up.
Mr. Falk had a glass eye, resulting from an operation to remove a cancerous tumor when he was 3. The prosthesis gave all his characters a peculiar, almost quizzical squint. And he had a mild speech impediment that gave his L’s a breathy quality, a sound that emanated from the back of his throat and that seemed especially emphatic whenever, in character, he introduced himself as Lieutenant Columbo.
Such a deep well of eccentricity made Columbo amusing as well as incisive, not to mention a progenitor of later characters like Tony Shalhoub’s Monk, and it made him a representative Everyman too. Off and on from 1968 to 2003, Mr. Falk played the character numerous times, often in the format of a 90-minute or 2-hour television movie. Each time Columbo, the ordinary man as hero, brought low a greedy and murderous privileged denizen of Beverly Hills, Malibu or Brentwood, it was an implicit victory for the many over the few.
“This is, perhaps, the most thoroughgoing satisfaction ‘Columbo’ offers us,” Jeff Greenfield wrote in The New York Times in 1973: “the assurance that those who dwell in marble and satin, those whose clothes, food, cars and mates are the very best, do not deserve it.”