Lieutenant Columbo endings

Two films. Two stories that are well-known. Two different takes.

The problem with making a film called Titanic is that every man and his panther knows the ending. No amount of characterisation and intrigue or the romance between Kate and William Leo stops you from wondering when the iceberg will appear. And when the big ice cube does hit the ship filmgoers think, about time too.

Senna the movie has the same problem most biographical stories have. If you know your subject, there are no surprises. This does not take away the gripping chequered-flagged finale. An on board camera films Senna’s last lap. The hairs on the back of your neck tingle for two minutes as you await the shocking denouement. Knowing the inevitable makes this vehicle more thrilling. Two films. Two different takes.

Ayrton Senna was an absolute master at driving in wet conditions. I would go so far to say that in all probability he could have driven his McLaren Honda over the Atlantic. He would have danced his automobile with white bears, iced icebergs, glided over the water with the complete control of a messiah. Miraculous and inspiring this fictional endeavour could be the greatest film ever told. All it needs is an ending. And a decent script, possibly.

With the script at the embryonic stage let’s tenuously move on. There are no Schubertian jokes. All jokes are finished and have an ending. New jokes are rare; arthritic oldies are regularly brought out of retirement. A friend could be halfway through a joke before you remember you’ve heard it before. In this instance, people react differently. Some will interrupt the comedian, thawing him in full flow with the cattling “herd it”. The more humane will let the joke run its course and laugh like a steam engine. A few will wait to almost the end before blurting out the punch line utterly destroying the comic’s timing. Nobody likes the third camp.

A satisfactory ending is paramount; although I’ve always been a 20th Century Fox man myself. The to be continued cop-out is not an option neither is a pass the parcel “Here is the weather report” or an unoriginal: The End. Therefore, in true intellectual writer status that I have fought hard to attain, I’ll leave with an unfinished joke.

Darth Vader meets The Dalai Lama on the frozen wastes of the Planet Hoth and says…

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8 Comments on “Lieutenant Columbo endings”

  1. The Ending is Paramount, JW? Well, it's lost on me I'm afraid.

    (Is Columbo coming back, then)?

  2. JW10 Says:

    Sorry Dolores, it’s a cop-out; an unfinished ending.

    Forgive me while I waffle a bit.

    There was a comedy TV programme in Scotland (can’t remember the name of it) and one of the rounds had the compere give the comedians the punch line and they had to work a joke around it.
    I hope you’re still with me and not gone.
    One of my favourite films is Dumb and Dumber. There’s a scene in this where Jim Carrey tells the end of a joke and everybody laughs. We don’t know the first part of the gag. I’ve tried for years to “fix” this joke.
    The recent Dalai lama joke doing the rounds on cyberspace gave me an idea to fill in the missing first part.
    OK read the last line again and here’s the D and D punch line.

    “Do you love me?” and he said, “No, but that's a really nice ski mask.”

  3. Hoh heetley hoh, JW – who needs What Went Before…

    And there's that monks joke where they evoke huge hilarity round the dinner table by saying 'Number 324… Number 47…' from their Jokes we Love Well pool.

    (I'd wondered if you were making an end-less comment on blogging procedure…)

  4. Yes, JW!

    I’m reminded that on November 10, 1942, shortly before my Beginning, Churchill said this was not The End. He went on to say it was not even the Beginning of The End. And he Ended by saying it was perhaps, the End of the Beginning.

    And there was no sequel, since I was an only child.


  5. Expat Says:

    …and says “Yoda! You can't fool me. I would have recognized that robe anywhere.”

  6. JW10 Says:

    Nice one, Expat. That's better than Jim Carrey's.

    It doesn't suprise me that you are an only child, CI, you are a one-off.

    Dolores, no comeback for Columbo at the moment. You know my wife loved that programme.

  7. JW10 Says:

    Saddened to hear the news that Peter Falk died on June 23 2011.
    My wife and I were big fans of Columbo.

  8. Me too, JW… It was lovely to hear clips of him on the news, being interviewed or being Columbo with his ” uh – just one more thing…” Fond fond memories

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