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 1,293 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)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Lt. ColumboLeslie Williams: Ah, Mrs. Williams! Don't you have any live-in servants?
Leslie Williams: Yes.
Lt. Columbo: Oh, well it must be the same problem everywhere. You want something done, you gotta do it yourself.
Leslie Williams: How's that?
Lt. Columbo: Oh, I was just saying, you pay a lot of money for help, and you end up doin the cooking.
Leslie Williams: Well, you see, my housekeeper's been on vacation the last few weeks.
Lt. Columbo: Oh, I see then, so you've been here alone. Well, listen, if there's, I mean, anything I can do to help, peel potatoes, whatever, you just feel free.
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Connections

References Perry Mason (1957) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A very promising pilot
3 September 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Three years after the original Columbo pilot "Prescription: Murder", the great man got another chance for immortality in this film. Of course, the rest is history as Columbo went on to become one of the greatest and best-loved TV characters ever.

This pilot sets a high standard (which wasn't always maintained, let's be honest) and has strong writing and characterisation, as well as showing some visual flair with slow fades, jump cuts and other effects.

Columbo here is the Lieutenant we will come to love, absent-minded, rambling, but with pin-sharp instincts and a deep sense of justice ("I couldn't have you convicted on false evidence" he says at one point. He wants to catch the criminal but he will do it fairly and properly). The performances of Peter Falk and Lee Grant are excellent.

Some reviewers have felt the suspect wouldn't be stupid enough to use the ransom money after being so smart in planning the crime and covering her tracks. I think the fact the money was going into a *Swiss* bank probably made her feel it was a risk worth taking - you can't get any information out of those guys, so no-one would know it was the ransom money. Besides, she really doesn't have a conscience.


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