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 1,246 users  
Reviews: 24 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)

Ransom for a Dead Man (01 Mar 1971) on IMDb 7.6/10

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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

Produced as a second pilot for Columbo (1971) three years after Prescription: Murder (1968). Its success led to "Columbo" being made part of a rotating Mystery Movie wheel of programs for most of the 1970s. 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

Agent Carlson: Let's understand this one thing: if you start harassing this woman, I'm going to take it upstairs.
Lt. Columbo: Ah, just one minute, uh, Mr. Carlson. You see, it's like this: this is not just a kidnapping; this is a murder now... and I kinda figure that's my department. I'll see ya 'round.
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Connections

Referenced in The Simpsons: Virtual Springfield (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Middling murder-mystery with Lt. Columbo indeed resorting to a shopworn bag of tricks...
29 July 2007 | by (las vegas, nv) – See all my reviews

Lee Grant, smirking and narrowing her eyes like a cat about to pounce, plays a hotshot lady lawyer who kills her attorney husband and makes it look like a kidnapping-turned-homicide; Lt. Columbo, curiously on the case from the very beginning (before there is a dead body), matches wits with Grant, eventually using Lee's hostile step-daughter as a tool to uncover the truth. This early "Columbo" teleplay by Dean Hargrove, with an original story conceived by the team of Levinson & Link, gives us some fun background details on Columbo himself (he's nervous in planes, likes root beer and always orders chili at Barney's Beanery in Los Angeles), but skimps a bit on the lieutenant's investigation. Without showing us the homework involved, Columbo seems to be picking details out of the air (always the right details, naturally), and when he talks about the victim's car keys missing, or the car-seat being too close to the wheel, it's unfair to spring these details on us as afterthoughts (there's no suspense involved when Columbo does his puzzle-solving off-camera). Aside from cunning Grant--and Peter Falk doing his usual solid work--the acting here is relatively mediocre, and the cut-and-dried climax seems a little flat.


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