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(Review originally written at 15 January 2008)

The Columbo movies are all great murder mysteries to watch. Difference with most other serials/movies is that in a Columbo movie you always get to see the killing right in the beginning, which also means that you already know who is the killer. So all the Columbo movies show is how Lieutenant Columbo solves the crime, in his own unique way. This is an approach that always works surprising well and the movie also still leaves plenty of surprises, since you never know exactly how the killer came to its deed and what the motive was.

The movie gets of course carried by Peter Falk as the strange and quirky but of course clever and very observing Lieutenant Columbo. Though I liked the 'old man' Columbo better in the later TV movies. He pretends to be more stupid than he in fact of course truly is, in order to harmlessly gain trust from his suspects. It's a great character and basically the foremost reason why this Columbo TV movies are so popular and still great to watch after all those years. The Columbo movies were made in even 5 different decades, all with Peter Falk in the title role, which says something of its popularity and quality of the series, that just never seems to dry out. The series will probably won't ever stop until Peter Falk is no more. Acedemy Award winner and multiple nominee Lee Grant also plays a good role but most of the other actors in this movie seem like C-grade TV series actors. Especially Patricia Mattick was annoyingly bad and all her character ever did was moaning.

This movie is the second of two Columbo pilots. Strangely enough it was made 3 years after the first Columbo pilot "Prescription: Murder", as if the first pilot was not a total success but they still wanted to give it a chance, having faith in its potential.

It has a good story that drags a bit at points and the clues left out for Lieutenant Columbo are at times a bit too obvious but knows to keep your interest throughout. It has some interesting side-plots and developments but it doesn't ever allow things to fully develop in order to make it all fit into the time span of the movie. This also means on the other hand that the movie feels like it wrapped up too fast toward the ending.

The movie features some quirky '70's effects and trick but luckily enough it never really crosses the line. It's also a reason why this movie surely doesn't feel outdated and is actually now just still as good as ever to watch.

7/10

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About Frank Veenstra

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