MovieChat Forums > Columbo (1971) Discussion > Columbo has quite the temper

Columbo has quite the temper

"Negative Reaction," "A Deadly State Of Mind," "An Exercise in Fatality, "A Stitch In Crime" and I'm sure others show a much more volatile Columbo than I remember. It lessens my enjoyment of the series actually because anger just doesn't suit Columbo in the least.


I've read that Peter Falk himself wanted more opportunities to show Columbo angry, and a few times(as noted in the OP), the producers allowed it to be placed in the script.

One thing people forget is that in the original 1968 TV movie "Prescription:Murder" in which Falk first played Columbo, he did the character much more tough and focused and "angry in general" -- interrogating suspects harshly, zeroing in (he also had a shorter, better haircut and better clothes.)

En route to the full seventies TV series, Falk and his showrunners seemed more inclined to "lighten up the character" with messiness and an aw-shucks subservient manner.

Me, I like it when Columbo gets angry with a killer because we know that in his heart, Columbo KNOWS he is dealing with an arrogant, callous person who has used the murder of another human being to advance their greed (usually.) Its probably all Columbo can do to act so polite around people he generally detests.

And sometimes they push his buttons to where he has to "drop the act."

I do like, however, that it was ONLY sometimes.


You don't like Columbo, if you like 'angry Columbo', because that breaks the whole premise and kills the immersion.

A hot-tempered man could NOT do what Columbo does so well; slip into the role of a bumbling fool, take all kinds of insults, pity and people thinking he's a homeless bum just so he can get the crook. He would be flying off the handle all over the place all the time, ruining the illusion that he doesn't know the murderer is the murderer.

Hot-tempered man could never keep so calm and act so friendly towards people he KNOWS murdered innocent human beings, now could he?

IF he could, then he would NEVER have lost his temper.

This show tried to have it both ways, and it kills the premise. Angry, hot-tempered Columbo as shown a couple of times, should NOT exist, because he CAN'T exist, for the Columbo formula to work. He's not charming, likeable, poverty-stricken ignorant bumbling fool that can slip under the paranoia of the murderer, if he flies off the handle all the time.

The only way that 'sweet persona' to be able to fool anyone, is if the man playing that role is so convincing that he can keep the persona consistent 100% of the time he shares space with the murderer.

A hot-tempered Columbo would get visibly angry, irritated, annoyed and eventually blow up in unbridled angry hostile fit with every single murderer, except maybe David Pleasant. Sorry, Pleasance.

It might be an interesting TV show to watch, but it would _NOT_ be Columbo.


He really gets angry in A Stitch in Crime.


One of his most difficult cases. His suspect was a respected surgeon who laughs at him. A good episode.


Thanks for the list of titles. I remember watching an episode of Columbo erupting in anger, but could never remember which episode.

As for him doing so on occasion it definitely shows that his usual befuddled persona was a put on.


I don't know, if he never gets angry, he seems too much of a robot. He has to show some emotion as a human being.


I'm not sure that he is an advanced enough model of cyborg to show emotions realistically. That's what gave him away. Well, that and the malfunctioning cybernetic eye.


"..if he never gets angry, he seems too much of a robot. He has to show some emotion as a human being."


Human beings have other expressions, feelings and experiences besides anger. In fact, truly advanced human beings are not compelled by that particular, destructive EMOTION.

Emotions come from the ego, spiritual feeling is a higher quality of the soul. Then there are bodily things, like physical pleasure, which can also be seen as an expression on the face.

Some people can experience emotions, feelings and all kinds of things without it showing in any way in their demeanor or conduct. They can keep a poker face when their armpits are on fire.

That doesn't mean they are a robot.

Then there are sociopathic people that have learned, and thus can fake all kinds of facial, physical, visual and aural expressions that emotional people do naturally, except these sociopaths do not feel anything - they're just producing the effects.

Does this mean they're not a robot?

Just because someone seemingly flies off the handle, doesn't mean they're NOT a robot (sociopaths and robots would be able to FAKE that expression and behaviour), and just because someone doesn't SEEM to be expressing any emotions or feelings doesn't mean there aren't a thousand very intense emotional, feeling-based or physical experiences going on inside of them.

Columbo certainly isn't a robot just because he doesn't get angry. An angry Columbo can't exist, because it would never work. You ALSO can't have a Columbo that SOMETIMES gets angry, because this means he can't 100% control his expressions, which means he would definitely blow his cover multiple times.

There are no people that are sometimes angry and hot-tempered, and other times not. There are only people that can sometimes control their temper a bit better and sometimes not as well, and even this would not work with Columbo.

Columbo displays a PLETHORA (don't ask me what it is) of indeed very HUMAN qualities, expressions..


..and so on.

Which is more human; compassion or anger? Can't even a bear get angry?

Nope, someone without anger is not a robot, or non-human, on the contrary. Someone that is always angry is more animalistic than human.

A robot can be programmed to 'behave angrily', but a robot can't be programmed to display genuine compassion and sense of humor. Those are very human qualities that Columbo displays a lot.

Other human qualities I have noticed Columbo non-robotically displaying a lot:

- humility
- sense of justice
- laughing off his mistakes
- being embarrassed
- goofing around
- feeling desperate
- being out of breath
- creative thinking
- intuition (he even mentioned this when talking to the golf teacher in some early episode)
- addiction (cigars)
- sense of style (or lack thereof)
- pragmatic attitude (his car)
- curiosity
- being able to learn
- manipulating people
- eliciting specific reactions out of people
- seeing /realizing what's important (details, etc.) in a murder case
- being able to connect the dots when no one else can
- treating fellow human beings (even murderers) with human dignity and respect

I could go on, but I rather just ask you at this point; do you _REALLY_ need to be hot-tempered to be human, and to not be a robot?


I like the episodes where Columbo looses his composure/gets angry with the murderer.



Actually, yes.

Columbo is a fictional character and not a sociopath or a Buddhist monk or whatever, so stop rambling.


I loved it when he finally would lose his temper. He was such a nice guy and he certainly put up with a great deal of insults and all around crap! He usually took it in his stride. He had plenty of good reasons to snap, but most of the time he held it together pretty good!


Columbo was nicer when he was with his relatives, such as in "The Princess Bride."

Seriously, when you watch that movie, consider Falk to be the same character. They never actually say his name, you know!


Sometimes a person losing their temper when it's seemingly out of character is more intimidating. If somebody gets angry over every little thing, they run the risk of people not taking them seriously.

If a person who is usually chill, suddenly explodes in anger, then your taking notice because it's such a surprise. I think this was what they were going for, making Columbo getting angry infrequently.