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Favorite Columbo Scenes

Every "Columbo" fan fondly recalls particular scenes, as personal favorites. It is impossible to show them all, but we hope you will enjoy this little collection.

We are excluding final "Gotcha!" scenes, which deserve a separate tribute of their own.

Special thanks to all of the people who contributed their favorites on our "Fan Forum".

 "I Knew You Could Do It" (Now You See Him)

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Always the master of psychology, Columbo knows that Santini's ego won't let him fail to escape from Columbo's special handcuffs on stage -- even though both men know full well, that by proving his prowess at lock-picking, Santini seriously incriminates himself.

Cooking With Dexter Paris (Double Shock)

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Another scene with Columbo bashfully waving his way onto a stage, to publicly perform with the killer. According to legend, this classic scene was entirely improvised by Peter Falk and Martin Landau.

"The Quickest Way Down" (The Greenhouse Jungle)

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Columbo takes a rare turn at physical comedy, racing and tumbling down a mountainside, and landing on his derriere in a ditch. Columbo keeps his sense of humor, and politely compliments Sgt. Wilson (Bob Dishy) for suggesting this means of descent.

"Go Away, Dog! I'm Gonna Drop!" (Forgotten Lady)

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Columbo takes another pratfall, after crashing Grace Wheeler's party and hanging off the tree outside her balcony. Legs kicking wildly, Columbo finally plummets, landing in a crumpled heap on the lawn, where Grace runs up to him:

"Have you taken leave of your senses?"

"It looks that way, doesn't it?"

"Special Recipe" (Swan Song)

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Watch Columbo's face, as he tastes the chili at Johnny Cash's party -- then learns that it is made from squirrel meat.

For more great chili scenes, see "Columbo's Chili Habit" or Columbo Cuisine: Other Favorite Foods

The Soup Kitchen (Negative Reaction)

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Exhausted, unshaven, and more rumpled than usual, Columbo shows up at a soup kitchen to interview Mr. Dolan (Vito Scotti), and is immediately mistaken for a homeless derelict.

The kindly nun in charge (Joyce Van Patten), melting with pity, tries to insist on replacing Columbo's pathetic looking raincoat.

See "Columbo's Raincoat".

Columbo Gets Mad (A Stitch In Crime)

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Pushed to the limit by the arrogant Dr. Barry Mayfield (Leonard Nimoy), Columbo angrily accuses him of plotting to murder kindly old Will Geer. Columbo emphasizes his point by slamming a coffee carafe on Mayfield's desk, with explosive impact, shattering the killer's amused composure.

Here we see Columbo in a unique situation -- not just trying to solve a murder, but desperately trying to save a man's life, before the murder can be consummated.

Whether Columbo has truly lost his cool, or whether it's just a strategic act, Columbo's move succeeds, and a life is saved.

Columbo and the Driving Examiner (Negative Reaction)

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Columbo's erratic driving, and dilapidated vehicle, so completely unnerve the high-strung driving test witness (Larry Storch) that the poor man begs to be released from Columbo's automotive death-trap.

"Lieutenant Columbo, I am sure you have a driver's license. It may even have been issued in this state. It may even be valid. But, all of these things notwithstanding, I'm sure you'll understand why I'm electing to walk the rest of the way."

A Game of Darts (The Conspirators)

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Columbo hounds Joe Devlin the only way possible, by crawling pub to pub. Swilling beer until Columbo is either owlishly drunk, or doing an exellent imitation of it, Columbo engages in a game of darts with Devlin.

As always, Columbo rises to the occasion and beats the killer at his own game. Squinting and wobbling, Columbo tosses three winning throws, declaring:

"This is for taking on an Irishman in his own back yard........This is for being an Italian in an Irish pub.......and for the sainted memory of Sergeant Gilhooley!"

Columbo Plays Detective (Fade In To Murder)

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Columbo is caught in Ward Fowler's (William Shatner's) dressing room, trying on Ward's "Detective Lucerne" panama hat and elevator shoes.

Columbo's grin of embarrassment makes it seem that he is merely indulging a child-like whim in wearing a TV star's costume. But in fact, Columbo is hard at work, discovering a key clue -- that the killer was really the same height as Fowler. See Columbo: Out Of Uniform - Hats

Gourmet Banquet (Murder Under Glass)

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To the grand musical arrangement of "This Old Man (The Children's Marching Song)", Columbo revels in an endless gourmet feast, given to him by restaurant owners as encouragment to solve the murder of their colleague.

Columbo, the eternal mooch and gourmand, has never been happier.

Ladies Luncheon Speech (Try And Catch Me)

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Abigail Mitchell thinks she can rattle Columbo by calling him to the podium for a totally impromptu speech on "hyper-modern chemical techniques". Columbo surprises her by performing with grace, wit and style, and by enjoying himself. Clearly, extemporaneous public speaking is yet another of Columbo's hidden talents.

Like most great Columbo dialog, his speech works on multiple levels. While superficially entertaining the audience,and revealing some of his personal philisophy, Columbo is also sending Abigail an ominous message: I know you're a nice lady, and I might like you a lot -- but that won't stop me from arresting you for murder.

Columbo begins by lighting his cigar:

"I think better when this is lit...

"I didn't expect anything like this. I came here, like you, to enjoy the famous Abigail Mitchell. As for all that chemical stuff, I think Miss Mitchell was putting you on, because I don't know anything about that.

"And about my job being dark and frightening, I tell ya the truth,... I'm not sure about that either.

"I like my job. Oh, I like it a lot. And I'm not depressed by it. And I don't think the world is full of criminals and full of murderers, because it isn't. It's full of nice people, just like you. And if it wasn't for my job, I wouldn't be gettin to meet you like this.

"And I'll tell ya somethin else. Even with some of the murderers that I meet, I even like them, too...sometimes. Like em, and even respect em. Not for what they did -- certainly not for that -- but for that part of em which is intelligent, or funny, or just nice. Because there's niceness in everyone. A little bit, anyhow. You can take a cop's word for it.

"Thank you, ladies.""

Mike Lally's Boarding House Scene (Now You See Him)

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Columbo gets key evidence in his classic interview with Mike Lally, in Mike's most memorable "Columbo" role -- as "Michael Lally," the former high-wire sensation, now reduced to living in a rundown boarding house.

Columbo begins by asking Mr. Lally all kinds of questions about the accommodations, from the rent to the hotplate and the bathroom. ("Not bad!")

On one level, it is great comedy as Columbo seems insanely interested in moving into a flophouse. Viewed more thoughtfully, the scene demonstrates Columbo's great humanity and adept psychology -- showing enthusiasm about the place, is Columbo's way to set the former star at ease about his humble surroundings.

Quite possibly the best "Columbo" scene of all time, directed by Peter Falk himself.

See more about the great Mike Lally in the Columbo Scrapbook tribute, "Who Is Michael Lally?"

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