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 982 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.



(teleplay) (as Irving Pearlberg) , (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 ...
Dr. Perenchio
Jude Farese ...
Highway Patrolman
Clete Roberts ...
TV Anchor Man
Angelo Grisanti ...
1st Detective


Nelson Hayward is running for the senate as a man tough on crime. His dictatorial campaign manager, Harry Stone, orders the candidate dump his mistress, backing up his demand with threats to expose the politician's shady past. Stone little guesses that his own publicity-minded lie about anonymous killers threatening the politician's life will lead Hayward to murder him and blame it on the invented assailants. Hayward sets up a tricky alibi for himself around a surprise birthday party for his wife. No one suspects the clever deception except that annoyingly observant Italian-American cop in the rumpled raincoat - the redoubtable Lt. Columbo. Written by J. Spurlin / revised by statmanjeff

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

4 November 1973 (USA)  »

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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 most often with Lt. Columbo singing, humming, or whistling the tune. "Candidate for Crime" is the only episode where the murderer (Jackie Cooper as political candidate 'Nelson Hayward') is heard using it, in this case whistling it as he prepares to film a campaign commercial. See more »


The plastic cover on the coat, which has been delivered to the senator's campaign office, changes position between shots. Columbo changes position as well, whilst looking at the coat. See more »


Nelson Hayward: Come on. Let's go to bed.
Vickie Hayward: Is that invitation social or just a professional courtesy?
See more »


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

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User Reviews

Jackie Cooper tries to turn the tables on our redoubtable detective in this excellent episode
11 January 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Nelson Hayward (Jackie Cooper) is running for senate as a man tough on crime. His campaign manager Harry Stone (Ken Swofford) demands the candidate dump his mistress (Tisha Sterling) and backs up the demand with threats to expose the politician's shady past. But Stone approves of the candidate'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 (Joanne Linville). No one guesses the truth except that annoying Italian cop in the rumpled raincoat—our redoubtable Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk).

Except for comic scenes included to pad the running time, this is a top-notch "Columbo" episode. The dialogue—from a script credited to four writers, not counting the story credit—is particularly sharp, especially in the scene where Cooper turns the tables on Columbo and insists on giving him his undivided attention; this time it's the suspect interrupting our clever detective with irrelevancies. Swofford, Linville and Sterling all give sterling support; and Jackie Cooper makes a splendid villain—a charming but unscrupulous politician with a wrinkled but handsomely boyish face that makes him look like a mortified schoolboy in the last scene.

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