37 user 11 critic

Prescription: Murder (1968)

A psychiatrist uses a patient he is having an affair with to help him kill his wife, but his perfect alibi may come apart at the hands of a seemingly befuddled LAPD lieutenant.



(teleplay), (teleplay) | 2 more credits »
4,483 ( 78)

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Complete credited cast:
Miss Petrie
Cynthia Gordon
The Blonde
Ena Hartman ...
Sherry Boucher ...
Air Hostess


A psychiatrist who is married, is having an affair. His wife threatens to divorce him and take him to the cleaners if she ever catches him. So along with his mistress he plans to kill her and make it seem like she was killed by an intruder. He goes out of town as part of his plan and returns to find the police there investigating and the man investigating is Lt. Columbo. Columbo is a little odd and he asks the man some questions that he finds intrusive. Columbo continues to question him and the man's friend an ADA warns Columbo to watch his step. But Columbo goes on. Written by rcs0411@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The pilot episode of television's most popular detective. See more »


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Release Date:

20 February 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Columbo: Prescription Murder  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Columbo asks if it's okay to smoke on the soundstage, he mentions that he likes a cigar but his wife would prefer he smoked a pipe. He adds that he doesn't like a pipe. Bing Crosby, reported to be an early choice to play Columbo, was known for smoking a pipe. See more »


(at around 1h 16 mins) When Columbo steps back into Dr. Flemming's office to turn off the lights, the switch is already in the down position. He simply touches it without moving it, and the lights turn off. See more »


Dr. Ray Flemming: Columbo, you are magnificent. You really are.
Lt. Columbo: Well, what makes you say that, Doc?
Dr. Ray Flemming: You're the most persistent creature I've ever met, but likeable. The astonishing thing is, you're likeable. Has anyone ever told you you're droll?
Lt. Columbo: Who, me?
Dr. Ray Flemming: Yes, you.
Lt. Columbo: [embarassed, laughing] Oh, come on, Doc. Come on, come on.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Oh, but you are. You're a sly little elf, and you should be sitting under your own private little toadstool. You say you've been thrown off the case, and yet you have the flagrant audacity to ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The beginning credits feature a series of brightly colored animated splotches. The splotches were meant to resemble the ink blots used in a Rorschach test, as the villain in this movie was a psychiatrist. See more »


Followed by Columbo (1971) See more »

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User Reviews

Uh...one more thing
23 December 2005 | by See all my reviews

For the legion of Columbo fans, this is the one that began it all, "Prescription: Murder," a play about a sloppy, fumbling, genius detective that was to star Thomas Mitchell on Broadway. We can thank, sadly, Mitchell's sudden death for the fact that they play never made it and was turned into a teleplay.

This particular episode sets up the formula for future Columbos: A powerful, wealthy, and/or privileged person commits a clever murder, can't believe their luck that this idiot is on the case, and goes down in flames. The powerful, wealthy, and/or privileged person is psychiatrist Gene Barry, who kills his wife (the always excellent Nina Foch) and sets himself up with an alibi with the help of his young patient, an actress. Brilliant though his scheme may be, Columbo is on to him immediately. And, as usual, 'twas ego killed the beast.

It took a while for Columbo to actually become a series, but it eventually did, rotating with other shows on the NBC Sunday Night Mystery Movie. But this is where it all began, with a surprisingly youthful but ever sloppy Columbo matching wits with a criminal. A classic.

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