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 826 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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Technical Specs


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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 »


Columbo's drawing of the crime scene changes between shots. The most noticeable difference is the X marking the position of the body, which switches between having diagonal lines and vertical/horizontal lines. See more »


Nelson Hayward: Why, Lieutenant, are you considering a change of wardrobe?
Lt. Columbo: Oh, no, no. Oh, every once in a while I think about getting a new coat, but there's no rush on that, sir. There's still a lot of wear in this fellow.
[pats trench coat]
See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Not the fastest or most clever Columbo movie but its writing makes this a solid one.
21 July 2008 | by (Groningen, The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

It's not the best Columbo movie out of the series but it's just as good and perfectly watchable as most other Columbo series from the long running series of fine movies.

The movie features some very long sequences, of which some are really too long. Some sequences just go on and on without getting swiftly to its point, while it easily could. Also not all of the sequences seem to be relevant for the actual movie and its main plot. The movie is also one of the longest Columbo movies made, with its 98 minutes. It doesn't make this the fastest or best flowing Columbo movie but its story still keeps the movie interesting throughout.

It also isn't the most clever Columbo movie in terms of the killer his plot and it isn't a Columbo movie with many twists to the story but it simply is a well written solid story that remains interesting throughout its characters and settings.

Having a candidate for senator as the movie its killer works out fine. It provides the movie with some tense sequences between the killer and Lt. Columbo, since Columbo is obviously somewhat reluctant at first of making accusations against such an highly respected man, that also above all things is his wives favorite candidate. And of course the senatorial candidate is underestimating the lieutenant.

The movie also features all of the other usual Columbo movie ingredients, including some good relieving humor. Perhaps a tad bit more humor than the usual Columbo movie but it's welcome.

The movie is also made great to watch thanks to its fine performances. Peter Falk is great in his role and he fits the part like a glove. Can you just imaging any other actor portraying the iconic figure? In this movie he is playing opposite Jackie Cooper, who is best known to the main public as Perry White from the Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve. He is really great and charismatic in his part and a worthy 'important' opponent for the lieutenant.

Simply another fine Columbo movie entry, of the usual high standards.


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