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(Review originally written at 20 April 2008)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What makes this Columbo movie such a great and better than the average one is the original approach of the story. It doesn't necessarily follow the usual Columbo formula as much as most of the other Columbo entries but it yet still really feels like a Columbo movie and still has the right much needed usual requirements, just with a spark of originality added to it.

The story is this time different since the murder doesn't occur halve way through the movie. At first the movie is about a missing person case, which Columbo investigates and of course rather soon suspects something more is going on and he has his eye (no pun intended) set on the uncle of the missing person. It makes the way the story and whole movie progresses different from other Columbo movies. It's a welcome change of approach, also since the movie still manages to keep the typical Columbo atmosphere and handling of the main character and his approach of things. It's a great written murder-mystery story by Jonathan Latimer, who previously also wrote a whole bunch of "Perry Mason" episodes. The story has a nice build up, with a couple of good twists thrown in and with a good ending as well.

The movie also knows to create a well balanced mix between its comical moments and serious murder mystery moments. The Columbo character this time is perhaps a bit clumsier than normal, which works out amusing for the movie. Seeing Columbo falling from a steep hill while he tries to get down is an amusing sight, although I don't think this scene was meant to have Columbo falling, since obviously no stunt double was used even though Columbo makes a hard and long fall and Peter Falk's response once he gets up seemed genuine and not scripted (good and fun improvisation though by him.).

Besides the good acting by Peter Falk, the movie also features the great Ray Milland, in his second Columbo movie appearance, this time as a whole new different character. The movie also features plenty of other fine characters, which works as a well enrichment for the story and the movie as a whole. Sergeant Frederic Wilson is especially a welcome addition and I wouldn't had mind seeing the character return in any future Columbo movies. The actor Bob Dishy did later returned in the Columbo movie "Columbo: Now You See Him" but as a different character again, even though he played a Sergeant in that one as well.

A great and original Columbo entry!

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

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