Columbo (1971–2003)
7.6/10
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28 user 8 critic

Ransom for a Dead Man 

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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Writers:

(teleplay by), (story by) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Michael Clark
...
Patricia Mattick ...
Margaret Williams
...
Hammond
...
Phil
Charles Macaulay ...
Richard
Hank Brandt ...
Attorney (as Henry Brandt)
...
Pat (as Jeane Byron)
...
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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Details

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Release Date:

1 March 1971 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The morning after Leslie makes the "drop", Margaret is watching "Double Indemnity", a movie about a woman who kills her husband to collect on an insurance policy. 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: You know the soap you have in the bathroom, the ones shaped like little lemons? Well I was almost afraid to use 'em.
Leslie Williams: But that's what they're there for, lieutenant - to be used.
Lt. Columbo: Well if you don't mind my asking: when you use one, and you put it back in the plate, how do you keep it from sticking to the others?
Leslie Williams: It's a problem.
Lt. Columbo: That's what I figured.
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Connections

Features Double Indemnity (1944) 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.


6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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