Tuesday, November 09, 2010

movie inspiration: Columbo

Long ago I promised a retrospective of Columbo costuming and set design. That time has finally come. However, Columbo is not something we watch just for the clothing. To my mind Peter Falk is the absolute best thing TV ever had to offer, and Columbo is the most enjoyable detective - you know I love detective movies/shows best - yes he's better than William Powell in The Thin Man movies. Falk is so charming and natural and really just a joy to watch in everything. They made a lot of Columbos, and he always has great bad guys to play against, including Martin Sheen, Shatner AND Nimoy, Ray Milland (really my personal old-time favorite - back in the day he was Bulldog Drummond, but that is for another post) and even Johnny Cash. I think that must be one of the great pleasures in life - to play against Peter Falk. Gena Rowlands is even in an episode, a year after she and Falk played the most heart-breaking couple ever in Cassavetes' A Woman Under the Influence. Cassavetes is a brutal genius - like Fassbinder but not quite (watch Fear of Fear for his version of similar material made the same year. Carstensen and Rowlands are really equally riveting in everything).. but all that too is really for another post.

On to the clothes: yes Columbo always wears a khaki suit and dirty rumpled trenchcoat. But everyone else has it going on in comparison. We'll start with a lady of the evening here and her amazing home.. for some reason the 70s pros is my style icon these days.

Steal this look now - classy digs with cheap thrifted furniture all spraypainted hot pink. Of course by 'classy digs' I mean serpent sculptures, a cigar store indian and giant ceramic dogs.

Really get a load of that pink. Ideal.

I think that is a coin-op ride to the left of the bar here - don't read anything into that. In this prostitute's house.

There are other great apartments too - this is a fantastic bachelor pad

Chair porn - Warren Platner.

and here's another ceramic animal - yellow panther

She wears a great acrylic knit dress and cardi here - I bet they came in every letter of the alphabet. I'd really like to find one of these - any letter will do.

she also has really good shades

Love this bandana print poly blazer, worn w a bandana of course. I think we actually have this exact outfit at the warehouse. I need to dig out that blazer.

I had super-narrow bandana print jeans by Esprit in high school. I wore them until they wore completely out. I would like them again please.

That chick's mom's t-shirt game is on there as well. We have tons of these polyester printed t-shirts at work too. I love this lavender bead print jobbie, worn w lavender beads, of course

collar & cuffs

collar and cuffs

There's Gena in pleated lemon chiffon. Watch this after A Woman Under the Influence and marvel at what strangers she and Peter Falk are to each other here. Also marvel at that couch.

That's Mel from the TV show Alice. Is that in syndication somewhere? Fond childhood memories of that show. Also, I have the watch he's wearing on the wide leather moto band. Mine is from a Woolworth's in NJ when I was in high school - someone had put out a 20 year old box of deadstock watch bands, all with the original 70s prices. My step-mother saw it and said she had one in the 70s too. I had to have it.
The watch is so good this lady has a ladylike version in pink

This chick is nu-huts. She dresses totally insane throughout.

Still I'd wear it, minus the hat.
Love this Egyptian sort of bird design

Check out Robert Culp's yellow canvas motorcycle jacket

Even the extras have fantastic stuff going on.

You know I have this hat. I get mad compliments every time I wear it.

Anyone who even remotely considers themselves a fan of the Man in Black should really watch Swan Song in season 3. Johnny doesn't just cameo - he is the main guy, and he's really quite good.

Here's Edith Head herself even, with her Oscars in the background - though she did not costume any Columbo episodes at all.

OK that is maybe the longest movie inspiration post I've ever done. Really it was hard to narrow it all down. Lots of extremely good stuff happening here throughout the whole series. I have the Mrs. Columbo episodes coming in the mail. I'll let you know...

Click any of the above links to watch all this good stuff!


Idee Fixe (punk.glam.queen@gmail.com) said...

This is a delightful post! I hope you've seen Peter Falk in "Wings of Desire", he was just fantastic! A little tidbit: he grew up just two blocks from where I'm sitting right now and they renamed the street a few years ago, calling it "Peter Falk Place". His father used to own a deli not too far away that was in loads of commercials in the 70's, it might have been for Breyer's ice cream. It was one of those products promoting how it still used the original natural ingredients and they used his shop as it was a very old-fashioned deli that still had a soda fountain. Um, okay... probably more info than you'll ever need or even wanted!
PS I keep forgetting to congratulate you on the book!

Sunshine said...

wings of desire! how could i forget that one?
really i'd watch him watching paint dry. that's hilarious you are just blocks away from peter falk place right now.

dirtbike said...


all of it amazing!

i esp love the alphabet suit... among others

Dorissa said...

Oh my... thank you so much for this plethora of knit and polyester madness. So colorful! I watched so much Columbo as a teen aged babysitter. :)