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(Review originally written at 26 January 2008)

This was the first regular filmed Columbo movie episode but yet it aired as the second, after Steven Spielberg's "Columbo: Murder by the Book". It's also at the same time among one of the better ones!

Bernard L. Kowalski was one great creative director! No wonder that they later asked him to direct three more Columbo movies. The movie has some real creative and innovative shot sequences and the movie as a whole is also clearly made with style, passion and eye for detail. Every shot connects and is a reason why this movie is better and also better looking just any other average made for TV movie. It's definitely one of the better directed Columbo movies.

It's a quit original Columbo entry for a couple of reasons. The murder is more or less an accident and was an impulsive act. So the killer this time doesn't have any time to plan out the 'perfect murder' in advance and his to clean up any of the traces afterward and has to dispose the body. The killer in this movie is not only being handled as the man who committed the crime but more as the man who helps out Lieutenant Columbo to solve the murder. It makes the character a more interesting and layered one as well and also helps to make the way Columbo solves the whole crime seem way more interesting as well because of that. Of course Columbo starts to suspect him pretty early on and as always he comes to solution by making himself vulnerable and look more stupid than he of course truly is and by gaining the killer's trust. This is obviously no spoiler since this is the way every Columbo movie gets set-up. I liked the story of the movie and how it progressed.

It also helps the movie that it has such a fine cast. At the time of this movie Peter Falk had really made the Columbo character his own and the character at this was already fully developed. Robert Culp is truly great as the short tempered Brimmer. Funny thing is that he would later star in three different Columbo movies again and one "Mrs. Columbo" episode, only in totally different roles. He even played the murderer in a couple of those movies as well again. He by the way was not the only actor that did this in other later Columbo movies. Also the great Ray Milland makes an appearance in this movie, as the husband of the victim.

All in all, a real great early Columbo movie and among the better ones out of the long running series of movies.

9/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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