(Review originally written at 1 March 2008)

This is a rather good Columbo TV movie, that only has one problem; the character of that of the murderer.

The movie has a great constantly present '70's style, that is mostly notable in its fast editing style but also really in its overall visual style, camera handling and general way of directing and storytelling. It's really great and provides the movie with a true great style, that also really helps to make this movie a good and enjoyable one to watch. Quite hard to believe that this was Edward M. Abroms' directorial debut. He also directed one more Columbo movie after this in 1973; "Columbo: The Most Dangerous Match". Too bad he always stayed stuck to TV work, though he did some big work as an editor, on movies such as "The Sugarland Express", "Blue Thunder" and "Street Fighter", as well as 4 Columbo movies (but not this one), of which 3 got made before this movie.

The movie has a fine solid cast with also some well known names in it, such as Roddy McDowall as the movie its killer. McDowall is perhaps still best known for his various roles in the Planet of the Apes movies, as yes an ape. But yes also Anne Francis is quite a name from the old days and so is Ida Lupino, a star mostly known from the '40's. McDowall is perhaps not the most likable one, which forms a bit of a problem for the movie. Of course murderers are never among the most sympathetic characters but in Columbo movies you still still need to have a certain sympathy and somewhat have to like them to create an interest in the character, not in the least because, next to Columbo, they are the main character of the movie and have more screen time than anyone else.

The movie its story differs from most other Columbo movies because the movie at first isn't about a murder when Columbo is first brought in to investigate the case but about the missing of a person. Columbo however of course soon starts to expect more is going on, due to Roger Stanford's suspicious behavior. Like always, the Lieutenant tries to capture him in his own web of lies, by playing dumber than he of course in fact really is.

It's a real fast going movie and it's over again before you know it. Perhaps the movie is so fast because it basically all of the time features both Lt. Columbo and the murderer Roger Stanford together in a scene, which assures that the story never strays away and the movie does not feature any distracting plot-lines or too overly present different characters. The ending is also really good and actually among one of the better Columbo endings.

A good Columbo movie that could had been great with a better McDowall character.


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About Frank Veenstra

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