Columbo: Season 3, Episode 1

Lovely But Lethal (23 Sep. 1973)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 847 users  
Reviews: 13 user | 4 critic

The formula for a miracle wrinkle cream leads the founder of a cosmetics company to murder. Lt. Columbo is on the case.



(teleplay), (story), 2 more credits »
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Title: Lovely But Lethal (23 Sep 1973)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Viveca Scott
Karl Lessing
Sian Barbara Allen ...
Shirley Blaine
Fred Draper ...
Lab Attendant
Richard Stahl ...
Burton (as Dick Stahl)
Marc Hannibal ...
Fingerprint Man
David Toma ...
Layne Mathess ...
Fashion Moderator (as Layne Matthess)


Viveca Scott runs Beauty Mark, the cosmetics company whose products are in every woman's home. With sales dropping, she's counting on the miraculous new beauty cream created by her chief chemist to boost sales and overtake her rival, David Lang, but the chemist's assistant steals the formula. Scott attempts to negotiate with him but, in a rage, knocks him over the head with a heavy microscope, killing him. Her rival's secretary finds out and attempts to blackmail her, but the cosmetics queen's worst news is that the rumpled, redoubtable Lt. Columbo is on the case. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

23 September 1973 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the third scene of the movie, we get to see excerpts from a vintage Universal musical. Actually, these selections have been taken from When Willie Comes Marching Home (1950), in which Vera Miles made her first movie appearance. See more »


Immediate beginning of the episode: woman sees doctor wearing rubber gloves from her perspective, but he wears no gloves from his perspective (when he touches her face) and then gloves again from her perspective. See more »


Viveca Scott: [to a competitor in the cosmetics business] Mr. Lang, why don't you just go gobble up a pill company?
See more »


References Frankenstein (1931) See more »


The Girl from Ipamnema
("Garota de Ipanema") (uncredited)
Music by Antonio Carlos Jobim (1962)
Portugese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes
English lyrics by Norman Gimbel
Toned down instrumental version played at fashion show
See more »

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User Reviews

Simply fine Columbo entry.
15 April 2008 | by (Groningen, The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

The movie is set in the cosmetic world. With that concept the movie is perhaps a bit ahead of its time but of course its a theme of all times. Over the centuries women always tried to look younger their age.

There is basically nothing wrong with this movie and it's a good average entry into the long successful running series of Columbo movies. No, it's nothing too special or spectacular but it features all of the right required elements. It's the reason why this movie is an average one but it's also the reason why this is such a perfectly watchable one.

The movie its concept and settings provides the movie with some good moments and characters. On top of that the characters are being portrayed by some fine actors. Martin Sheen plays the victim (he was also still a fairly much unknown actor at the time) and the excellent Vera Miles plays the killer. As icing on the cake, Vincent Price also makes his appearance, who was still very popular in the horror scene in the '70's. It's rather special to watch Vincent Price and Lt. Columbo in one shot together, interacting.

The movie is directed by Jeannot Szwarc, who is perhaps best known for directing the sequel "Jaws 2" and the less successful "Supergirl". He now spends his career directing successful television series such as "Without a Trace", "Cold Case" and "Smallville". Kind of funny that he has returned to his roots now, since he also started his career directing similar television series, from a totally different decade. Television series such as "Kojak" and in a way this movie also really fits in with those series. He's obviously at ease within the genre and knows how to tell the story in a short amount of time, with a good pace and also still some class. There is also some real subtly in the directing at times.

The movie has a decent proper build up and despite some minor flaws, which more has to do with the fact that the movie needs to restrain its own running time to just over an hour, the movie is a fine one. Of course things get rushed at times and not everything gets properly wrapped up but isn't that the case with basically every Columbo movie and other different crime series?

A fine watchable Columbo movie.


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