Columbo: Season 1, Episode 6

Short Fuse (19 Jan. 1972)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 1,142 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 5 critic

A chemical plant's director gets threats and issues threats, and one of the employees develops and plants a bomb in his car. When the car turns out to be missing, Columbo is called to find out what happened.



(teleplay), (story), 4 more credits »
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Title: Short Fuse (19 Jan 1972)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Roger Stanford
Valerie Bishop
David L. Buckner
Doris Buckner
Everett Logan
Steve Gravers ...
Lawrence Cook ...
Quincy [Murphy in credits]
Rosalind Miles ...
Lew Brown ...
Jason Wingreen ...
Eddie Quillan ...
Annette Molen ...
Jim Neumarker ...


Stanford Chemicals CEO David Buckner wants to sell the business, but he is overruled by several people: his wife Doris, company lawyer Everett Logan, and his nephew Roger, the lighthearted young genius whose late father founded the company. But he has a plan: he has uncovered some very embarrassing and illegal past activities on the part of Roger. He demands that his nephew change his aunt Doris's mind about the sale, or he'll tell Doris about all the nasty things her precious Roger has done. But Roger is one step ahead of him, and initiates a plan to murder his uncle with dangerous explosives. Unfortunately for him, he didn't count on Lieutenant Columbo investigating Buckner's "car accident." The Lieutenant quickly suspects Roger, and puts together a web of evidence to trap the young scientist in his own lies. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

19 January 1972 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


During his first deposition by Lt. Columbo, Roger Stanford (Roddy McDowell) casually mentions that his parents died in a break explosion", not unlike the one that befalls David Buckner (James Gregory) and his chauffeur. See more »


The position and amount of the plastic string in Columbo's hair changes from shot to shot. See more »


Doris Buckner: Roger, I called the Commissioner of Police, and he said he'd send over his very best man.
Roger Stanford: [looking Columbo over] Is that a fact?
Lt. Columbo: Lt. Columbo: Well, my wife, she says I'm second-best, but, uh... She claims there are eighty fellas tied for first.
See more »

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User Reviews

I liked the story and style, too bad about the main character, next to Lt. Columbo.
1 March 2008 | by (Groningen, The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

This is a rather good Columbo TV movie, that only has one problem; the character of that of the murderer.

The movie has a great constantly present '70's style, that is mostly notable in its fast editing style but also really in its overall visual style, camera handling and general way of directing and storytelling. It's really great and provides the movie with a true great style, that also really helps to make this movie a good and enjoyable one to watch. Quite hard to believe that this was Edward M. Abroms' directorial debut. He also directed one more Columbo movie after this in 1973; "Columbo: The Most Dangerous Match". Too bad he always stayed stuck to TV work, though he did some big work as an editor, on movies such as "The Sugarland Express", "Blue Thunder" and "Street Fighter", as well as 4 Columbo movies (but not this one), of which 3 got made before this movie.

The movie has a fine solid cast with also some well known names in it, such as Roddy McDowall as the movie its killer. McDowall is perhaps still best known for his various roles in the Planet of the Apes movies, as yes an ape. But yes also Anne Francis is quite a name from the old days and so is Ida Lupino, a star mostly known from the '40's. McDowall is perhaps not the most likable one, which forms a bit of a problem for the movie. Of course murderers are never among the most sympathetic characters but in Columbo movies you still still need to have a certain sympathy and somewhat have to like them to create an interest in the character, not in the least because, next to Columbo, they are the main character of the movie and have more screen time than anyone else.

The movie its story differs from most other Columbo movies because the movie at first isn't about a murder when Columbo is first brought in to investigate the case but about the missing of a person. Columbo however of course soon starts to expect more is going on, due to Roger Stanford's suspicious behavior. Like always, the Lieutenant tries to capture him in his own web of lies, by playing dumber than he of course in fact really is.

It's a real fast going movie and it's over again before you know it. Perhaps the movie is so fast because it basically all of the time features both Lt. Columbo and the murderer Roger Stanford together in a scene, which assures that the story never strays away and the movie does not feature any distracting plot-lines or too overly present different characters. The ending is also really good and actually among one of the better Columbo endings.

A good Columbo movie that could had been great with a better McDowall character.


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