Columbo: Season 3, Episode 3

Candidate for Crime (4 Nov. 1973)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 828 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 4 critic

Senatorial candidate Nelson Hayward murders his domineering campaign manager, staging it to appear that Hayward himself was the intended victim of a mob hit gone wrong. Columbo hits the campaign trail to catch the killer.



(teleplay), (teleplay), 5 more credits »
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Title: Candidate for Crime (04 Nov 1973)

Candidate for Crime (04 Nov 1973) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Vickie Hayward
Tisha Sterling ...
Linda Johnson
Harry Stone
Robert Karnes ...
Sgt. Vernon
Jay Varela ...
Sgt. Rojas
Regis Cordic ...
Deputy Commissioner
Sandy Kenyon ...
Mario Gallo ...
Dr. Perenchio
Jude Farese ...
Highway Patrolman
Clete Roberts ...
TV Anchor Man
Angelo Grisanti ...
1st Detective


Nelson Hayward is running for senate as a man tough on crime. His campaign manager, Harry Stone, demands the candidate dump his mistress. He backs up the demand with threats to expose the politician's shady past. But Stone approves of Hayward's publicity-minded lie that anonymous killers are threatening the politician's life, little guessing that Hayward will murder him and blame it on these invented assailants. Hayward sets up a tricky alibi for himself that includes a surprise birthday party for his wife. No one guesses the truth except that annoying Italian American cop in the rumpled raincoat - the redoubtable Lt. Columbo. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

4 November 1973 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:


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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The children's song, "This Old Man" appears in almost every episode of the Columbo series, sometimes as background music, but more often Lt. Columbo is seen singing, humming, or whistling the tune. The episode, "Candidate for Crime" is the only episode where the murderer ('Jackie Cooper', as political candidate Nelson Hayward) is seen using it, in this case whistling it, as he prepares to film a campaign commercial. See more »


When Columbo speaks to Linda Johnson to introduce himself, a woman with a white woollen hat with holes in passes in front of them. In the next shot the same woman is having a conversation with someone behind Columbo and Miss Johnson. See more »


[Lt. Columbo wants to talk with Hayward but doesn't want to "inconvenience" him]
Nelson Hayward: No, no, no... let's understand something, Lieutenant: See, you think I'm reluctant to talk to you, but you're wrong. I will talk to you as often as you want, for as long as you want, about anything you want.
Lt. Columbo: [taken aback] Oh. Oh, fine.
See more »


This Old Man
Traditional children's songHummed by Jackie Cooper before TV commercial.
See more »

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User Reviews

Candidate for one of the best in the series!
6 December 2004 | by (Port Talbot, South Wales,UK) – See all my reviews

A vintage Columbo episode that pits him against a candidate for the US senate (played by Jackie Cooper) who murders his domineering, heavy-handed campaign manager.

On reflection, this is a highly effective addition to the series. The tension is efficiently created and maintained through excellent pacing: Columbo's progressive unbalancing of all of the people involved in the love-triangle (murderer, murderer's wife and murderer's lover) is effectively interwoven with the tension evoked by a soon-to-be-decided election.

There is plenty of wonderful interplay between Columbo and murderer: the balance of power see-saws intermittently, as the murderer offers one or two sharp answers to Columbo's questions before Columbo's intuitive nature proves too difficult to overcome.

Jackie Cooper gives an excellently stern-faced performance as the murderer, perfectly exhibiting the dubious sincerity that often riddles the image of politicians. In the end, the script-writer cleverly convinces the viewer that the murderer's desire to be become a US senator has been overtaken by the need to expel Columbo's suspicions about the whole case.

Undoubtedly, Columbo is handed to the case by a a somewhat impetuous act, but this a credible resolution given the desperation that the murderer feels, in order to revitalise the theory that he has been the murder target all along.

In conclusion, a decisively scripted, superlative Columbo story which is strong in all departments and is certainly one of the best in the long-running series.

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