(Review originally written at 19 August 2008)

Joyce Van Patten (yes, indeed Dick Van Patten's sister) is a big unknown actress who mostly works for TV related projects. Perhaps this was her biggest role as of yet? It also is apparent why she mostly works for TV and doesn't star in many movies; she just isn't a very great actress. In most cases a Columbo movie features a well known and established actor in the role of the murderer, who usually has some very good interaction with Peter Falk and his sluggish Lt. Columbo character. Obviously this just isn't the case with this Columbo movie, which is also the foremost reason why this isn't among the best the Columbo series of movies have to offer.

But of course the acting is not just the only problem. Another serious problem is the movie its directing, which is way too simple and formulaic. Robert Douglas also used to be a director who spend almost his whole career working for television, directing many different episodes for many different TV-series, of which some were popular and of which some where just plain unknown. His directing style is typical for TV and uses lots of static shots, close-ups, zooms and simple establishing shots. Also most of the supporting actors are just plain horrible in this movie, so it can also be said that Robert Douglas was not really a great actors director either.

It's not like the story is bad though. It's actually a quite good written episode and story-wise even a step-up from writer Peter S. Feibleman's previous already fine written Columbo movie "Columbo: Fade in to Murder", staring William Shatner. The movie also features some good and the right amount of relieving humor. You can say that it's the story that really saves this movie from being a bad movie but also just can't prevent it that this movie is a tad bit below par, when being compared to most of the other Columbo movies.

It luckily also isn't among the longest Columbo movies, since the movie tends to be a bit overlong in parts and starts to drag during some of its sequences. It often could had gotten more swiftly to the point. Even though the movie is still pleasant to watch, it just isn't the fastest going one.


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About Frank Veenstra

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