Just One More Thing

Columbo Goofs part 2

Another Disappearing Cigar Trick

In “Short Fuse”, we see Roger (Roddy McDowall) steal his uncle’s cigar case and stuff it down the back of his pants; and later, after the meeting with uncle, we see Roger pull the cigar case out from the same place, in back of his waistband.

It’s a large-4-cigar case, made bulkier by the handkerchief wrapped around it. So, where does it go during the scene in the uncle’s office?

There are several shots where we can see the Roger’s back, his short jacket riding well above his waist, and the cigar case is mysteriously missing from its hiding place.

(Thanks to goofmeister Lissy Friedman, for spotting yet another goof.)


Hair Here, Hair There

In “Negative Reaction”, Dick Van Dyke’s hair is parted on his left – except for a brief shot while he is tying his victim to the chair, when the part abruptly shifts to his right. We see the hair parted on opposite sides, in back-to-back shots -- like a mirror image (or, like a reversed photograph!).

Van Dyke’s hair is too carefully coiffed for this to be a grooming accident. Dennis Klein, who spotted this, theorizes that it’s not exactly a goof, but rather a deliberate foreshadowing of the climactic clue, which uses a mirror-image photograph from the same scene. Great observation, Dennis!

Shoe Switch

In “An Exercise In Fatality”, when Columbo removes and examines the victim’s shoe from his locker (confirming that the victim wore brown heels, matching the marks on the gym floor), we can see that Columbo is holding the victim’s right shoe.

Then we cut to the close-up, and suddenly it is the left shoe.

(Thanks to Rob Thornsby, for spotting this goof.)


Stationery Swap

In " Idenity Crisis ", Columbo and Brenner seem to have problems keeping their documents straight.

When Columbo first meets Nelson Brenner in the hallway outside the lecture room, Columbo hands a photo to Mr. Brenner, who looks at it, then hands it back to Columbo. In the very next shot, as Brenner walks away, he is handing the photo back AGAIN to Columbo.

Then, Columbo and Brenner go into a nearby room, where Brenner pulls out a small address-book type notepad, and writes in it.

In the next shot, suddenly the small notebook in Brenner’s hands is replaced with a full-sized pile of papers.

We don’t have an uncut copy of this episode, but unless the A&E editors are playing tricks, the transformation of Brenner’s paper prop is startling.

(Thanks to Fran Serafin and to Chuck Buckner for spotting these goofs.)


Swan Song: Stage vs Studio

The opening concert scene in “Swan Song” is accomplished by combing footage of a real Johnny Cash concert, with film shot for “Columbo” on a sound stage. It’s an ingenious idea, but there are goofs.

In the studio footage, Johnny and the chorus are on a round, “church” style stage, with a multicolored plexiglass floor; and Johnny wears a guitar, usually hanging behind him.

But when the cut to Johnny in his real concert footage, he has no guitar.

And at the very end, you can see that he’s on a completely different stage, made of plain wooden slats.

(Thanks to Forest George, for spotting this goof.)


Nothing to Crow About

In “Murder In Malibu”, Columbo rides up in a cherry-picker to observe the early-morning flight of birds near the murder scene. He watches a flock of “crows” fly past, which become an important clue as the explanation for sounds heard during Wayne Jennings’ telephone message, placing him at the scene.

But the alleged “crows” have an odd appearance and flight method, which betray the strange choice of stock footage used for this shot.

As Royal E. Berglee, who spotted this, says: “They look more like fruit bats, or some kind of large bat. I don't know what they are but they are not crows.”

We’re not expert ornithologists, but we have to agree – when you watch this episode, notice the weird flapping of these creatures’ wings, and the way their bodies hang below the wingspan. Bats!

Thanks, Royal!


The Phantom Flinch

In “A Bird In The Hand”, one of Columbo’s biggest clues is a videotape which shows Harold “flinch” just before the gardener gets blown up in Big Fred’s car – proof that Harold had planted the car-bomb. Columbo shows the “flinch” to Delores, in repeated close-ups.

Earlier, however, we see the entire tape when Columbo first watches it, with another policeman – and the flinch isn’t anywhere on the tape. In fact, we the tape doesn’t show Harold at all during the seconds before the explosion.

We watch the tape continuously with Columbo, and the camera maintains a close-up on the car until after the explosion; we don’t see Harold’s reaction until after the explosion is completed. So, where did the “flinch footage” come from?

Close observation of the explosion scene shows that there were two cameramen present – but there is no suggestion that Columbo watched two different tapes.

Unfortunately this is probably not a “goof” but a “cheat”, as the director apparently wanted to prevent sharp-eyed viewers from spotting the clue before Columbo reveals it. Some fans feel that this sort of thing spoils the game.

(Thanks to all of the fans who have spotted this.)


Magic Carpet

In “Murder By The Book”, Ken Franklin is interviewed by a woman at his house. When the interviewer and her tech crew walk out, we see them walk upon a bright yellow carpet just outside Franklin’s door.

But when Columbo and Ken walk out shortly after, the yellow carpet is gone.

Maybe the tech crew stole Ken’s rug?

(Thanks to Mary Ann Primeau for spotting this Goof!)


Follow the Bouncing Bag

Near the end of "A Trace of Murder", Columbo confronts Patrick with the evidence. He shows Patrick an evidence bag that he holds in his right hand when viewed from the front. 

But when the camera angle switches to Columbo’s back, the bag switches to his left hand.

Before that, we briefly see the cigar cutter make a similar hand-to-hand jump.

(Thanks to Peter & Ludmila Weaver, for spotting this Goof.)

Columbo Goofs  & Goofs 3

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