Columbo: Season 1, Episode 0

Ransom for a Dead Man (1 Mar. 1971)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 1,295 users  
Reviews: 25 user | 6 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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

1 March 1971 (USA)  »

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(Technicolor)

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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

Early in the pilot when Lee Grant's character leaves her husband's 1971 Lincoln sedan at the stop sign and goes to a mailbox to mail the ransom note she is startled by an approaching car. As the car approaches it is a Corvette. However as the car is shown driving away the rear of the car is a 1971 Lincoln sedan; possibly the same car and/or a sequence planned for earlier in the scene. See more »

Quotes

Lt. Columbo: Unique woman.
Agent Carlson: What's that?
Lt. Columbo: Oh, I say, uh, she's an exceptional woman.
Agent Carlson: What do you mean?
Lt. Columbo: Well, when the phone rang, you know, she ran to the phone, she picked up the receiver, and uh, she never asked her - her husband if he was all right.
Agent Carlson: I don't see anything strange about that. The woman was frightened, under stress.
Lt. Columbo: That's right, yeah, yeah, she - she was, she was under stress, right. Gee, I just can't help thinking though, but... if I was in the hands of kidnappers, and my wife didn't ask me ...
[...]
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Connections

Features Double Indemnity (1944) See more »

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User Reviews

"From one old bag to another......."
13 January 2002 | by (Down the pub with Leopold Alcocks) – See all my reviews

A distinct improvement on PRESCRIPTION: MURDER, especially in the visual field: this was actually released in cinemas in Britain, in 1973, and it's easy to see why. Despite some gimmicky camera effects, dating the show as the product of the early 70's (but why the hell not), the style of the visuals, particularly the opening murder scene, and the atmospheric music lend the TV production an enjoyable air of assured professionalism more associated with the big screen. (Especially, one might add, with Hitchcock, whom Levinson and Link had previously written for.) Lee Grant is a simply superb adversary, coldly beautiful and never once descending to the "chink-in-the-armour" factor that let down some of the later COLUMBO murderesses. Falk looks no different in this second pilot (in effect a special, anticipating the series' current status) than he would in the series, and has also raised his voice above the near monotone employed in PRESCRIPTION: MURDER, although his loss of temper with Grant's obnoxious stepdaughter is quite unlike the easy-going Lieutenant we all know.


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