Columbo: Season 1, Episode 2

Death Lends a Hand (6 Oct. 1971)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,452 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 6 critic

When the CEO of a private detective agency threatens the wife of a publisher with blackmail and she threatens to expose him, he accidentally kills her.


(as Bernard Kowalski)
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Title: Death Lends a Hand (06 Oct 1971)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Investigator Brimmer
Mrs. Lenore Kennicutt (as Patricia Crowley)
Arthur Kennicutt
Ken Archer
Eric James ...
Medical Examiner
Len Wayland ...
Capt. Of Detectives
Ceil Gentry
Barbara Baldavin ...
Brimmer's Secretary


Brimmer, a short-tempered private detective, is hired by Arthur Kennicutt, a prominent Los Angeles publisher, to investigate the publisher's wife's activities under suspicion of an extra-marital affair. Although his investigation discovers an affair with a golf instructor, Brimmer chooses not to tell Kennicutt about it and proposes Mrs. Kennicutt to act, in return for Brimmer's silence, as a "pipeline" for information involving powerful persons with whom her husband is involved. When Mrs. Kennicutt refuses to cooperate and threatens to tell her husband about Brimmer's unsavory proposal, Brimmer becomes enraged and accidentally kills her. He then transports her body across Los Angeles and dumps it in an industrial area, hoping her death will look like a robbery gone awry. Enter Lieutenant Columbo, the cigar-smoking detective in a rumpled raincoat, who does not accept the murder-by-mugging theory surrounding the woman's death. When Kennicutt assigns Brimmer to assist Columbo in the ... Written by Kevin McCorry <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

6 October 1971 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Kennicutt mansion was also used in The Godfather as the home of movie director, Jack Woltz. See more »


When Columbo is talking to Arthur Kennicutt at the pool he has a shorter hair cut then when he walks into the house to meet Brimmer where his hair is longer. There must have been a time difference in between scenes for Falk's hair to grow out that much. See more »


Columbo: Say, you know, 's a funny thing about your appointments with Mrs. Kennicutt? Uh, the first two were in the morning and all the rest - and I counted thirteen of 'em - uh, they were always in the middle or the late afternoon.
Ken Archer: So?
Columbo: Uh... Well, I guess it's not important. I guess it's nothin'. Wait, let me... I'm gonna take off my coat. Except that, uh... you know, every time you had an appointment with Mrs. Kennicutt, it was always the last lesson of the day.
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User Reviews

A well-plotted and solid early Columbo adventure
19 April 2002 | by (Port Talbot, South Wales,UK) – See all my reviews

A very high-standard Columbo story which was actually the first filmed episode of the long-running series but was originally transmitted second (after "Murder By The Book").

Robert Culp makes his first of three appearances as the guest murderer in the series and plays the owner of a private detective agency, who blackmails the wife (Patricia Crowley) of a rich, highly influential businessman (played very sympathetically by Ray Milland) after he falsifies a report, in her favour, after it is discovered she was having an affair. The wife later rebels against the blackmail scheme but is killed in a fit of rage....

A very satisfying episode in many respects, particularly as the plot is so strongly set-up and subsequently developed and also because of the rare Columbo ingredient that the crime is an unpremeditated killing. The whole thing is further enhanced when the widowed husband uses the murderer to assist Columbo in his investigations: a feature that facilitates numerous good quality scenes, particularly in the first sequence when the three central characters meet and Columbo's crucially deceptive qualities are wonderfully in evidence.

Directed with flair by Bernard L. Kowalski and acted to an appropriately high level, this really set the tone for whole series (since "Murder By the Book" was let down by a poor ending). The script by Columbo creators Richard Levinson and William Link is precise, well-structured and well-thought-out and is underpinned by a steady, productive pace and meaningful sequences which really exhibit the unpredictability of the story. Ultimately, the finale fittingly epitomises that Columbo has always been one step ahead of the murderer.

Overall, this is a very fine piece of detective work for Columbo, and strongly suggests that the production team had worked positively and constructively to render a polished Columbo story.

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