IMDb > "Columbo" Ransom for a Dead Man (1971)
"Columbo: Ransom for a Dead Man (#1.0)"
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guide
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

"Columbo" Ransom for a Dead Man (1971)

1 of 68 Episodes | Next »

Photos (See all 2 | slideshow)


User Rating:
7.6/10   1,318 votes »
Your Rating:
Saving vote...
Deleting vote...
/10   (delete | history)
Sorry, there was a problem
Dean Hargrove (teleplay)
Richard Levinson (story) ...
View company contact information for Ransom for a Dead Man on IMDbPro.
TV Series:
Original Air Date:
1 March 1971 (Season 1, Episode 0)
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:
The lesser of the two Columbo pilot movies See more (25 total) »


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

Did You Know?

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 »
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 »
Lt. Columbo:You see the thing is with me, eh... I'm a strange guy.
Leslie Williams:Really?
Lt. Columbo:Yeah, I worry. I mean little thing bother me. I'm a worrier. I mean, little insignificant details, I lose my appetite, I can't eat. My wife she says to me: "You know, you can really be a pain", you know what I mean?
Leslie Williams:I get the general picture.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Features Double Indemnity (1944)See more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
10 out of 15 people found the following review useful.
The lesser of the two Columbo pilot movies, 7 September 2005
Author: The Welsh Raging Bull ( from Port Talbot, South Wales, UK

Overall this second pilot for the Columbo series does not have the dramatic impact and sustained tension apparent in the original movie "Prescription: Murder." The movie does however boast a strong performance from Lee Grant as the conniving and arrogant lawyer, Leslie Williams, and an even better performance from Patricia Mattick as her single-minded, spoilt step-daughter.

Peter Falk's characterisation had positively matured since the original and some of his scenes have wonderful dialogue attached to them , which epitomise the complexities of his character.

Nevertheless, the ransom scenes which dominate the first half hour drag a little and in retrospect, one is at pains to understand why Columbo is present as the kidnapping plot develops.

The direction from Richard Irving. who also directed the original, is somewhat flat and he insists on using some intrusive, mind-numbing (and now somewhat dated) visual effects.

It's a decidedly patchily entertaining Columbo adventure, whose rather predictable ending nevertheless conflicts with the murderesses's hitherto smartness. In spite of this, the collective successes of the pilots instigated one of the best series to hit our TV screens.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (25 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for "Columbo" (1971)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Why is Colombo on a kidnapping case? jonjax71
Music Score? girlhasknife
See more »

Related Links

Main series Episode guide Full cast and crew
Company credits External reviews IMDb TV section
IMDb Crime section IMDb USA section

You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.