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 1,304 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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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

In the court scene where the injured plaintiff is being examined on the witness stand, he is asked by his attorney about his injuries and he replies that he injured his back. Lee Grant objects on grounds that this is expert testimony that can only be given by a medical expert and the court sustains the objection. This is incorrect. A person can testified as to what part of his body he injured and where he feels pain. If the question asked was a technical one, such as what specific disc was injured,that question could only be answered by a medical expert. See more »

Quotes

Lt. Columbo: Uh, did she ask where the body was?
Agent Carlson: No.
Lt. Columbo: I didn't think so. Oh, listen, one more thing, Mr. Carlson. She didn't, uh, ask how her husband was killed, did she?
Agent Carlson: No...
Lt. Columbo: That's what I thought.
Agent Carlson: All right, Lieutenant, what's bothering you now?
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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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