IMDb > "Columbo" Ransom for a Dead Man (1971)
"Columbo: Ransom for a Dead Man (#1.0)"
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"Columbo" Ransom for a Dead Man (1971)

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Overview

User Rating:
7.5/10   1,176 votes »
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Director:
Writers:
Dean Hargrove (teleplay)
Richard Levinson (story) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Ransom for a Dead Man on IMDbPro.
TV Series:
Original Air Date:
1 March 1971 (Season 1, Episode 0)
Genre:
Plot:
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. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
A good start proper to the series – not perfect but needs very little tweaking See more (23 total) »

Cast

 (Episode Cast) (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Peter Falk ... Columbo

Lee Grant ... Leslie Williams
John Fink ... Michael Clark

Harold Gould ... Agent Carlson
Patricia Mattick ... Margaret Williams

Paul Carr ... Hammond

Jed Allan ... Phil
Charles Macaulay ... Richard
Hank Brandt ... Attorney (as Henry Brandt)

Jean Byron ... Pat (as Jeane Byron)
Richard Roat ... Perkins
Norma Connolly ... Celia
Harlan Warde ... Paul Williams
Bill Walker ... Crowell

Timothy Carey ... Bert
Judson Morgan ... Judge
Richard O'Brien ... Priest

Celeste Yarnall ... Gloria
Lisa Moore ... Nancy
Lois Battle ... Waitress
Reginald Fenderson ... Mechanic
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Angelo De Meo ... Desk Clerk (uncredited)

Episode Crew
Directed by
Richard Irving 
 
Writing credits
Dean Hargrove (teleplay)

Richard Levinson (story) &
William Link (story)

Richard Levinson (based on a character created by) &
William Link (based on a character created by)

Gene Thompson  uncredited

Produced by
Dean Hargrove .... producer
Richard Irving .... executive producer
 
Original Music by
Billy Goldenberg 
 
Cinematography by
Lionel Lindon (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
Edward M. Abroms 
John Elias (uncredited)
 
Art Direction by
John J. Lloyd 
 
Set Decoration by
Bert Allen (set decorations) (as Bert F. Allan)
 
Production Management
Donald L. Gold .... unit manager (as Don Gold)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
George Bisk .... assistant director
 
Sound Department
Robert R. Bertrand .... sound (as Robert Bertrand)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Burton Miller .... costumes
 
Editorial Department
Richard Belding .... editorial supervisor
 
Crew believed to be complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
95 min | USA:98 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Australia:PG (video rating) | Finland:K-7 (2004) | Sweden:11 | UK:PG (video rating) (2000) (2004) | UK:U (theatrical release) (1972)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Produced as a second pilot for "Columbo" (1971) three years after Prescription: Murder (1968) (TV). Its success led to "Columbo" being made part of a rotating Mystery Movie wheel of programs for most of the 1970s.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: 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:
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.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The Simpsons: Virtual Springfield (1997) (VG)See more »

FAQ

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful.
A good start proper to the series – not perfect but needs very little tweaking, 2 October 2005
Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom

Leslie Williams is a very clever lawyer and has just become an equally clever murderer. Shooting her husband and dumping his body, Leslie uses a tape recorder and some threatening letters to make it appear that her husband has been kidnapped. Naturally she contacts the police and drops off the money only for her husband to be found dead with the police all lamenting their failed attempt to get him back alive. However the liaison with the local police (Lieutenant Columbo) has one or two things that just don't ring true and suspects something other than a simple kidnapping.

As with many TV film series (such as Perry Mason), if you like one or two of them then you'll pretty much like them all. This entry in the Columbo series pretty much follows the usual formula – we know the killer and the "perfect" plan but then watch Columbo follow his hunch and gradually starts to pick holes in the story he is told before eventually finding enough to prove his suspicions. Knowing this ahead of time won't ruin anything for you; it is simply what happens in all the films. With this strict adherence to formula it is usually down to several factors whether or not the Columbo film stands out or if it is just average. However with this film we are really in the territory where the formula was created. This second pilot sees a murder committed in the first few moments, Columbo brought in and filled with doubts and suspicions. In essence the plot is solid and interesting, with Columbo picking away at small things that bother him but it doesn't quite ring true.

The film brings in Columbo quickly, which is a good thing, but it seems to spend too much time on Margaret, which is a bit of a drag. The film could have lived with her in a smaller role but outside of her the rest is still pretty strong. Falk is much, much better as Columbo than he was in the first pilot (Prescription Murder) as he is much more animated and quirky rather than flat as he was then. He is funny and dogged and, although he isn't as good as he would quickly become, he is still pretty good. Grant is strong and is a good foil for Columbo – shame they do not have as much time together as other films allow. Mattick is annoying and, like I said, she gets in the way and is a misjudged part of the film generally.

Overall a good start proper to the successful series. The majority of the formula is in place and it is surprising how little tweaking it needed to make it run and run from there. Fans will love it of course but it has an appeal beyond that (it was released in cinemas in the UK) and is worth a look.

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