Columbo: Season 1, Episode 0

Ransom for a Dead Man (1 Mar. 1971)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 1,175 users  
Reviews: 23 user | 5 critic

A brilliant tort attorney gets rid of her boring husband by faking his kidnapping and keeping the ransom. The FBI may be fooled, but not Columbo.

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Title: Ransom for a Dead Man (01 Mar 1971)

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
John Fink ...
Michael Clark
...
Patricia Mattick ...
Margaret Williams
...
Hammond
...
Phil
Charles Macaulay ...
Richard
Hank Brandt ...
Attorney (as Henry Brandt)
...
Pat (as Jeane Byron)
Richard Roat ...
Perkins
Norma Connolly ...
Celia
Harlan Warde ...
Paul Williams
Bill Walker ...
Crowell
...
Bert
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Storyline

Leslie Williams, a brilliant tort attorney is bored by her husband, a respected member of the state supreme court. After trading on his famous name to get ahead, she tries to get her freedom by murdering him and concocts a scheme to make it appear that he's been kidnapped and held for ransom. After she pays the ransom to herself, his dead body is found. She may have fooled the FBI but not Lt. Columbo, who is aided by her vengeful stepdaughter. Written by duke1029@aol.com

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Release Date:

1 March 1971 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although Billy Goldenberg scored the opening "Columbo" stories in 1971, his commercially released "Columbo Theme" recorded as such by Norrie Paramor and His Orchestra ("Law Beat" album, Contour Records 2870 369) did not become a regular feature of the show. The theme is first heard during the helicopter sequence of "Ransom for a Dead Man" but Goldenberg did not use it as a title theme and composed mainly fresh music for "Murder by the Book" and all his subsequent scores. The "Columbo" series never had any recognizable theme tune of its own. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning Leslie Williams is shown constructing the bogus ransom letter without wearing any gloves. Her fingerprints would have been all over it, showing that it was she who had actually made the letter. See more »

Quotes

Leslie Williams: [to Columbo as he attempts to fly] Keep the planes nose up. You have to treat the plane like a woman. You have to treat it gently. You have to treat her very gently.
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Connections

References Perry Mason (1957) See more »

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User Reviews

very good, but kinda long
29 October 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

If I recall correctly, Lee Grant won or was nominated for an award for her great performance of Leslie Williams, a cold blooded killer and confident lawyer who is both arrogant and greedy. She exhibits no remorse whatsoever during the entire episode, as we get to she her coldly murder her influential husband. She manipulates the detective in charge, but when the husband's body finally surfaces, Columbo is in charge and he sees right through Leslie, even when she falls apart at the bad news in front of several people. Without describing in detail the rest of the episode, there are some memorable scenes which has Columbo attempting to fly Leslie's plane, and how Leslie's step daughter Margaret constantly hounds her, because she feels that Leslie murdered her father. I thought perhaps there was a bit too much Margaret, as her tirades towards her step mother go on and on for much of the latter half of the segment. Anyhow, you'll have to sit through close to 2 hours before we finally get to the underwhelming finale when Columbo finally arrests Leslie, which seems slightly convenient rather than grand.

This is a very solid season 1 episode, and watch for the fine portrayal by Lee Grant, who makes this Columbo a memorable one. Peter Falk also does a fine job as he's on the hunt after the killer.


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