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(Review originally written at 4 February 2008)

This very first Columbo murder mystery moves might not have the same distinctive class and atmosphere of the later movies, it still is a real good murder mystery movie in its own.

This was the first of two pilot movies, which introduced Peter Falk as the scruffy Lt. Columbo. It's obvious that this was the very first Columbo movie and the whole series and all was still a work in progresses. For instance, compared to later Columbo movies, the introduction takes quite long. It takes very long before the murder 'finally' occurs. It even takes 30+ minutes(!) before the Columbo character gets finally first introduced. Perhaps this is also a reason why this movie is quite long (almost 100 minutes) compared to any other Columbo movie.

The movie also differs from later Columbo movies in its style. This movie has a typical funky-like '60's style, also with its music. But this is of course simply due to the fact that this movie was from the late 60's, while all the other Colubmo movies were from the 70's/'80's/'90's/'00's.

The character of Columbo himself is of course also still quite differently looking, since Peter Falk was only in his early 40's when he appeared in this movie. The raincoat is there, the big cigar is there but that's about it. He is still quite clean and slick looking, something the later Columbo, thank goodness, lost. But his character is already fairly much the same as in the later movies. He's scruffy, slauntering and pretends to be more stupid and childish than he really is, in order to gain the suspect's trust and can investigate without creating too much suspension in the murderers mind. He still does some un-Columbo like things, such as shouting at his suspects during interrogations and putting pressure on them.

The whole way the story is build up and Columbo investigates the case is done quite well, although the actual main story of a man killing his wife to be with his younger lover is of course not a terribly original concept within its genre. This is the foremost reason why this movie isn't among the greatest in the Columbo-series, even though there is very little wrong with the actual story-telling and this movie all in all is still among one of the better Columbo movies. Also the killing itself was done quite ingenious but the ending of the movie seemed sort of unlikely to me and also somewhat predictable.

All in all a solid start of the long running series of Columbo movies.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

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