Cooking with Columbo
Famous food critic Paul Gerard (Louis Jourdan) is not all he appears to be to his loyal fans as he forces restaurant owners to pay up if they are going to get a good review. Vittorio Rossi (Michael V. Gazzo) has had enough of Paul's scam and after he tells him no more ends up dead having been poisoned which the medical examiner discovers. When Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk) is called in to investigate he starts by questioning Gerard who a young Italian waiter (Antony Alda) said was there prior to Vittorio dying and they had been arguing. It doesn't take long for Columbo to focus his investigations on Gerard.
Two things sprung out at me even before I started to watch "Columbo: Murder Under Glass", one was that this features Shera Danese who I believe appeared in 6 episodes of Columbo each time playing a different character. The second thing is that "Columbo: Murder Under Glass" was directed by Jonathan Demme who over a decade later was giving us the brilliant "The Silence of the Lambs" and trust me you wouldn't know it was Demme without reading first as visually this is typical 1970s Columbo from start to finish.
Now being typical Columbo can mean all sorts of things so with "Columbo: Murder Under Glass" we have again more focus on the comedy of Columbo as a character than the crime solving. And we get to see a new side to Columbo as we discover he is a bit of a gourmet who appreciates high class cuisine. So when ever Columbo heads to a restaurant he is in seventh heaven as the generous chefs continually feed him their fabulous creations. And it is not just Peter Falk delivering the humour as Louis Jourdan lays on the charm incredibly and intentionally thickly to make his scenes amusing especially those opposite Peter Falk.
The trouble is with "Columbo: Murder Under Glass" and those which generally focus on the humour is the actual case and the entrapment ends up playing second fiddle. As such after watching the humour of Columbo stuffing his face and playing coy with a Geisha girl the solving of the case almost gets tossed at us without much of a build up.
What this all boils down to is that "Columbo: Murder Under Glass" will certainly make you smile as the comedy of Columbo being a gourmet is hilarious thanks to Peter Falk selling it every time with some great face pulling. But for all the fun there is to be had in "Columbo: Murder Under Glass" it does come up short when it comes to the details of the case.