Columbo and the Exploding Cigar Box

Peter Falk in Columbo: Short Fuse (1972)

Despite the opposition of other board members, Stanford Chemicals CEO David Buckner (James Gregory) still plans to sell the business and has a plan as he knows his nephew Roger (Roddy McDowall) has some skeletons in his closet and unless he helps him change the mind of his mother, one of those opposed to the sale, he will reveal his nephew's dirty secrets. But Roger has no intention of doing what his uncle wants and with his knowledge of chemicals plans to murder his uncle with a little car accident. Unfortunately for Roger Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk) is assigned the case and he quickly becomes suspicious of Roger.

I've mow watched the majority of "Columbo" and for me it went on a sort of journey being serious crime dramas in the 70s, slightly amusing when it came back in the 90s and by the turn of the century were more comedy than crime solving. I say this because when you start to watch "Columbo: Short Fuse", which was episode 6 of series 1, the opening performance from Roddy McDowall as a bit of a joker is almost more in tune with those episodes from the 90s. It makes you wonder how things are going to play out when the raincoat wearing Lieutenant shows up to investigate the suspicious car accident involving David Buckner.

Anne Francis and Roddy McDowall in Columbo: Short Fuse (1972)

Anyway, after what is an entertaining and a very 70s set up as we have Roger and his squeeze Valerie, played by Anne Francis, heading to a nightclub with go-go girls dancing in cages we get to the crux of the movie which of course is Columbo solving the case. I won't tell you which sort of "Columbo" it is so you can guess whether it will be a case of the lieutenant getting enough evidence to get his man or trick him into dropping himself in it thanks to his confidence and ego.

Now it goes without saying that Peter Falk delivers another solid and entertaining performance as Lieutenant Columbo, in memory I can only think of one episode where Falk didn't seem on form and this certainly wasn't it. And surrounding Falk are the usual solid performances from some famous faces such as James Gregory, Ida Lupino and Anne Francis. But the star of this episode is Roddy McDowall who delivers a character who at times feels over the top but ends up incredibly entertaining for being a little exuberant and cheeky.

What this all boils down to is that "Columbo: Short Fuse" is unsurprisingly a solidly entertaining episode of "Columbo" from season 1. But unlike some episodes this one never ends up being more than entertaining and becoming memorable.

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