“When I hit the seat, I turned to the press agent and said ‘You’re fired!’ I didn’t want him charging me for another fucking day.”
- Peter Falk upon losing his second consecutive Best Supporting Actor nomination
I think it’s safe to say for many, Peter Falk will always be remembered as the dimwitted, fumbling and cigar smoking Detective Colombo who in the end, always gets his man. I mean, Peter Falk only played Colombo on and off for forty years. And was nominated and won multiple Emmys and Golden Globes. That’s quite an achievement of itself.
To others (mainly film snobs, who sit on their ivory film towers) Peter Falk will be remembered as something more than a bumbling television character, he’ll be remembered as a great character actor who played a fictionalized fallen angel self in “Wings of Desire”, the Grandpa in “The Princess Bride” and the solid rock of a loving husband and the ideal man opposite Gena Rowlands’ amazing turn in “A Woman Under the Influence”.
To me, Falk will always have a soft spot in my heart as the comic relief sidekick to Jack Lemon’s evil Professor Fate in the goofy and campy Blake Edwards film, “The Great Race”.
Above all that Peter Falk served a greater purpose, a more important role in Hollywood, he served as one of John Cassavetes cinematic partners that spanned the stretch of six films: “Machine Gun McCain”, “Husbands” (marking the first time Cassavetes directed Falk), “Mikey and Nicky”, “Opening Night”, “Big Trouble”, and “A Woman Under the Influence”.
Also Cassavetes guess stared on an episode of “Colombo”. That’s pretty badass.
I recently purchased the blu-ray of “Machine Gun McCain” on Amazon for $15.49. I read an excellent review, and of course I have known about the “spaghetti western” genre, but I had no idea there was a “spaghetti gangster movie” genre as well. So I pretty much, I was sold. This film was made in 1969 (on the brink of an amazing decade for film), and stars John Cassavetes, Brit Elkand, Gena Rowlands (who is Cassavetes’ wife) and Peter Falk. AND! The score is by Ennio Morricone!
Holy mangazam, Batman!
So I watched the movie, and of course I loved it. But what struck me as being so very excellent about the film was Peter Falk. Falk plays a gangster who’s been put in control of six western states, minus Nevada. He wants in to Vegas so bad he bribes a judge to pardon Hank McCain (Cassavetes) to knock off a casino because the others in the mafia won’t let Falk enter Las Vegas.
One thing that I’d like to stress about the excellent “Machine Gun McCain” is that this is film where Cassavetes first met Falk, which lead to a very long and fruitful friendship/collaboration. Also, the fact that Falk has a glass eye, is really used to his creepy and lethal advantage.
Anyway, plot aside, Falk plays a very intense and coldblooded mobster, and he’s excellent, and he’s mean and sneering and so unapologetic it’s mind numbing. So, turn the page to those of you brave souls who own the Five Films by John Cassavetes set from Criterion. Oh, I’m the only one who owns that? Oh fuck! Well, don’t worry, because most of you I know have Netflix Instant, and “A Woman Under the Influence” is now currently streaming.
It seems to me that most of the people hip to “A Woman Under the Influence” mainly know it because John Cassavetes directed it, and that Gena Rowlands gives an amazing, amazing, amazing performance. Which she does. But don’t count out Peter Falk, he’s the calm to Rowlands storm. He’s the solid rock, which will always be there for her.
Peter Falk is the ideal man.