The catch phrase from my favorite cop/detective television series of all time. Columbo is also the longest lived. It actually started in 1960, played by another actor. The real series kicked off in 1971 with Peter Falk. A few years earlier came the release of the scariest film in history, Rosemary’s Baby. Over the past couple of years I’ve been calling up the old episodes on my Netflix account and I just watched the first two Columbo episodes of the second season which are connected in an odd way with the movie.
You know the formula for Columbo. It’s not a whodunnit. We watch the murder happen and then we watch him solve it. He lulls the murderer, always played by a big name actor as the stories are more character driven than mystery driven, into a false sense of security with seemingly harmless questions usually culminating in “one more thing…?” The question reveals to the perp (always rich and powerful) that Columbo is actually much smarter than he lets on, and that the ruffled cop has his/her number. The rest of the episode usually consists of the perp’s desperate flailing as Columbo tightens the noose. Half the time you feel sorry for the person, especially when the victim had been a big jerk anyway.
So the murderers in the two episodes I watched last night and the night before had, something in common, though not quite as profound as I’d thought. The first episode’s murderer was played by John Cassavetes, who also played Rosemary’s turncoat husband in R.B. The second one was played by Ray Milland. Now, my first thought seemed so profound. Two villains from Rosemary’s Baby defeated by Columbo on one disc. I was going to suggest that the rights holders add the Ruth Gordon episode (one of my favorites) and deem it a trilogy in which Columbo defeats all the villains of R.B. with a special features vid of Mia Farrow hugging Falk in gratitude.
Alas, my memory failed me. I did some googling to make sure I knew what I was talking about and it turns out that Ray Milland did not play Roman Castevet in R.B. It was played by the lesser known but more than capable Sidney Blackmer. Blackmer died a few years after the movie, so when one of some networks’ more braindead CEO’s got the idea that a sequel was necessary and put together the most god-awful made-for-TV thing which actually tried to play more on Omen than R.B. they called upon Milland. But not even the combined enormous talent of Gordon, Milland, and Cassavettes could salvage it. What’s sad is that I saw it as a 12-year-old before I’d had the opportunity to see R.B. So the image of Milland as Roman stuck with me I guess.
I saw a portion of R.B. a few years back while channel surfing at my M.I.L.’s home, and I’d forgotten about he vodka blush. Remember when the young couple first had dinner with their elderly Satanic neighbors as Rosemary noticed the outline of artwork which had been removed from the walls?
Mr. Castevet came in, holding in both hands a small tray on which four cocktail glasses ran over with clear pink liquid. “Mr. Woodhouse? A Vodka Blush. Have you ever tasted one? They’re very popular in Australia,” Mr. Castevet said. He took the final glass and raised it to Rosemary and Guy. “To our guests,” he said. “Welcome to our home.”
The Vodka Blushes were tart and very good.
from Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin, © 1967
Thanks to Satan’s Church for the quote, the photo, and the recipe. The recipe isn’t particularly original, surprising, or inspiring. 2.5 ounces vodka shaken with .75 ounces of lime juice and grenadine for the blood color. Somehow I think the fictional drink came before the recipe.
Side note: I once saw Satan Church founder Anton LaVey at the Mandalay Cafe in the Richmond District of San Francisco. Evil, bonkers, or otherwise, he had great taste in food – the Mandalay is one of the best Asian restaurants anywhere. I guess he lived nearby in Pacific Heights before his wife, no doubt taking some of his teachings to heart, took him to the cleaners. His daughter claims to have killed him with a magic spell. Why hasn’t she been prosecuted?