The murderer is a critic who gives favorable reviews (puffs) to a group of restaurateurs who pay him for the privilege of not being panned. One of them threatens to blow the scheme wide open, so the critic poisons him with the toxin from a Japanese puff-fish known as "fugu" (a real delicacy) by injecting a bottle of wine with the envenomed needle-tip of a carbon-dioxide opener (or rather arranging for the victim to do it himself).
For those who might think, that television productions could never touch the glory of Hollywood productions, this Columbo episode is one of the best examples to doubt. Even Columbosists, I think, would agree, that this is one of the best episodes of the confused detective and the best thing about it, it's absolutely timeless!
There's not much to say about Peter Falk's performance... GREAT as in each minute, we've seen of Columbo. But fortunately, the producers were able to capture an outstanding guest star: Louis Jourdan. While many musical stars, who had problems to get engagements after the breakdown of the studio system, were featured as guests in Columbo episodes, Jourdan probably gives one of the most outstanding performances. (Sure, he wasn't one of those who had problems to get other engagements) I also recommend this episode to those people, who know Jourdan only as Gigi's lover Gaston. No, he was able to do much more!
Yes, you have all the Columbo essentials: an ingenious method by which the victim is murdered, a sophisticated villain aptly played by Louis Jourdan, and a simple behavioral inconsistency on the part of the villain that makes Columbo suspicious in the first place - but, what I most love about this episode is the fact that everywhere Columbo goes in trying to solve the case, people insist on feeding him. Even a bank, where one would never expect to be fed, serves coffee cake!
Now let’s be honest. No one eats like Peter Falk. I remember vividly, in fact, all the specific episodes in which he eats: a snack at a party thrown by villain Leonard Nimoy, a memorable hot dog while in pursuit of villainous spy Patrick McGoohan, a six-dollar bowl of chili in a fancy restaurant while questioning witnesses in pursuit of publisher Jack Cassidy, a beef dish at an embassy provided by villain Hector Elizondo (“That smells like beef. Is that beef? I think it’s beef.”), and even some caviar followed by iced tea while chasing advertising guru Robert Culp. Of course, Columbo’s table manners may lack some sophistication (he double-dipped the caviar), but there’s something about the way he eats, smacking and talking as he goes, that makes you wish you had some of whatever he’s eating.
If you intend to watch “Murder Under Glass”, I highly recommend that you bring food. Be prepared for one of the all-time great Columbo episodes and one heck of a case of the munchies!
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