Peter Falk in Columbo: The Conspirators (1978)

Columbo and the Blarney

Having been a terrorist in his younger years, Irishman, Joe Devlin (Clive Revill) has now become a writer who supports an American society which helps those who have been victims of terrorism. But the truth is, it is all a front as Devlin is buying weapons from arms dealer Vincent Pauley (Albert Paulsen) to ship back to Ireland and when he senses that Pauley has betrayed him murders him. Of course a dead body brings Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) to the scene and as he goes about his investigation he finds himself getting chummy with Devlin. The question is; who is in more danger?

The gift of the gab, it is something I believe that you are born with, a natural ability to talk, to converse, to think on your feet and have the confidence in your words and ability to command attention or hold an audience. And that is where "Columbo: The Conspirators" has the audience, the banter between Devlin and Columbo, the confidence and playfulness yet that aspect of knowing with each man quietly sizing up their opposition knowing each other is dangerous behind the seemingly friendliness of their talks. It is a joy to watch with Peter Falk appearing to enjoy the one on ones he has with Clive Revill.

The thing is that whilst "Columbo: The Conspirators" ticks all of the usual boxes when it comes to the fun of Columbo solving a murder it does at times feel a little heavy handed. It is purely a case of a director putting his own stamp on the movie and for me Leo Penn doesn't allow the naturalness of the characters and the solving of the crime to work its magic. Although I do wonder whether with this being the final episode of the original 70s series that there was an air of heaviness hanging over the production.

What this all boils down to is that "Columbo: The Conspirators" whilst entertaining thanks to the performances of Peter Falk and Clive Revill it doesn't have the flow and naturalness which made up the best "Columbo" episodes from the 70s.