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 1,033 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 by) (as Irving Pearlberg) , (teleplay by), 5 more credits »
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Title: Candidate for Crime (04 Nov 1973)

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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

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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?


Released on French television (TF1) on 18-12-1976 under the title of "COLUMBO. Candidat au crime". See more »


Although Columbo takes the suspicious bullet out of the drywall, the hole is still no bigger than the size of the entrance hole. See more »


Lt. Columbo: Would you believe it? The first thing I did this morning when I left your campaign headquarters, I run right over to your tailor's.
Nelson Hayward: I'm sure he was delighted. He loves a challenge.
Lt. Columbo: Whattaya mean, sir?
Nelson Hayward: Uh, nothin'. It's a small joke.
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La Dona e Mobile
(from the opera "Rigoletto")
composed by Giuseppe Verdi
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User Reviews

I know where all the bodies are buried cause I buried them!
4 November 2005 | by (brooklyn NY) – See all my reviews

(Some Spoilers) "Candidate for Crime" is one of the most over-plotted of the Columbo series of TV movies that really doesn't make any sense after you realize how paradoxical it is.

A candidate for senator in the state of California Nelson Hayward, Jackie Cooper, is so desperate to get elected in a special election that he concocts a scheme making the public believe that he's being targeted by organize crime for death because he's such a great crime fighter. It actually turns out that candidate Heyward is far better qualified to be a member of the Mafia then of the United States Senate. Hayward is also cheating on his wife Joanna, Joanne Liville,by having an affair with her private secretary Linda Johnson, Tisha Sterling. That greatly upsets Haywards campaign manager Harry Stone, Ken Swofford, who feels it would destroy his chances of getting elected if found out by by the media and his opponent in the race for the senate.

Hayward thinks that the best way to get elected is to show the public that "The Mob" is out to get him and uses the excuse to check out of his hotel room, that's heavily protected by the police, by going to his wife's surprise birthday party. At the same Hayward has Harry impersonate him and end up at his, Hayward, beach house where he's secretly there and shoots him dead. Hayward does all this in order to makes it look like the person who murdered Harry, who's made to think that he's Hayward, was a Mafia hit-man.

It looks like Hayward had Harry killed more out of him wanting to break up his relationship with Linda then anything else which was really foolish, and criminal, on Haywards part. Couldn't he wait until after the election, which was a week away, that he was projected to win by almost every political poll and then continue his affair with Linda? Why murder his campaign manager and risk ending up not only losing the election but ending up in the San Quinten death house?

Let. Columbo, Peter Falk, who assigned to Harry's murder realizes that something just is't right in Hayward's whereabouts when Harry was murdered. It seems just too perfect for him to be at a birthday party for his wife Joanna at the exact time that Harry was killed. Also with Harry being such a good friend of the Hayward's why wasn't he not only invited to the birthday party but why didn't he even know about it, according to his personal diary. All these inconsistencies struck Let. Columbo odd and made him think that his murder was planned well in advance. It in fact wasn't a hit and run rubout by the mob who didn't know that the person that they whacked wasn't the person that they thought he was: Nelson Hayward "Champion Crime Fighter". Columbo puts all the loose ends together and sets up the murderous and wife cheating Hayward but it's his very schemings, and paranoid, self that in the end seals candidate Haywards fate.

It made no sense at all to me for Hayward to try to have himself get assassinated, by himself of course, at the end of the movie in order to gain sympathy from the public. At the time it happened the people of Califronia were already well on their way, according to the TV news reports,to electing him senator. Even if Hayward was behind in the vote it was already too late , with the majority of the vote already in, to swing the election in his favor anyway.

Hayward was far to driven to get himself elected senator then having an affair with Linda. It made no sense at all for him to go as far as murder in killing his campaign manager Harry Stone, who was totally dedicated in getting Hayward elected to the senate, in order to continue his affair with her! Peter Falk as Det Columbo had to keep himself more from cracking up then in getting the goods on Hayward. Which was as easy as pie for him in how ridicules Hayward was in single-handedly destroying not only his political career but his marriage freedom and Harry Stone's life as well.

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