Columbo: Season 3, Episode 8

A Friend in Deed (5 May 1974)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 929 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 5 critic

A police commissioner provides a false alibi for a wife killer, but then expects an alibi in return.



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Title: A Friend in Deed (05 May 1974)

A Friend in Deed (05 May 1974) on IMDb 7.9/10

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Mark Halperin
Margaret Halperin
Michael McGuire ...
Hugh Caldwell
Artie Jessup
Bruno Wexler
Eleanor Zee ...
Lt. Duffy
Salesgirl (as Arlene Martell)
Victor Campos ...
Joshua Bryant ...
Dr. MacMurray
John Calvin ...
Charlie Shoup
Byron Morrow ...
Amos Lawrence
James V. Christy ...
Mrs. Fernandez


Hugh Caldwell kills his wife Janice and in despair asks for the help of his friend and neighbor Mark Halperin. Mark helps a friend in deed, of course, so the death appears to be the job of a thief, but Lt. Columbo has some doubts. There is not a single fingerprint of the deceased in her house and he begins to suspect Halperin. Unfortunately for Lt. Columbo, Halperin is the chief of the police. Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

5 May 1974 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Richard Kiley and Rosemary Murphy had not met before shooting their first scene, where Kiley's character Mark Halperin dives into a swimming pool to pull out his drowned wife, played by Murphy, and attempts to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Upon finishing the scene, Kiley held out his hand to Murphy and said, "How do you do? I'm Richard Kiley." See more »


Provided we see the bathtub murder of the commissioner's wife in real time, it seems impossible that she drowns within 2 seconds. That is the time it takes for the murderer to look satisfied. Drowning seems a little more complicated than that. See more »


Columbo: No, sir, we're looking for somebody else. We're looking for somebody... somebody who tried to make a murder look like a burglary.
See more »


References Strangers on a Train (1951) See more »


Jesus, Joy of Man's Desiring
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
Played at funeral
See more »

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User Reviews

One of the more original Columbo movies.
18 July 2008 | by (Groningen, The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

Plotwise and the way the story is build up from its beginning till end, every Columbo movie is basically the same. It's the reason why most of the Columbo movies are of the same high quality. There however are a few Columbo movies that stand out. Often a Columbo movie can distinct itself from the others and the usual quality, through its directing style, plot or acting. This is a Columbo movie that knows to distinct itself through its plot.

Storywise this is simply one fine movie. It on top of that is also quite original for a Columbo movie, thanks to some nice little touches that makes the story and its storytelling different from the usual Columbo formula. For instance we don't get to see the first murder being committed at all and there is not one murderer but two, of which one is the deputy police commissioner and Columbo's boss. In the long run the story isn't at all about the first murder in fact. The story on top of that has some small side-plots, which isn't something common for a Columbo movie, also due to its normal short running times. It's a story that develops nicely and has plenty of twists and surprises in it. It's the kind of script that would had also worked out for a good cop thriller movie.

But it's still a typical Columbo movie alright with most of its usual ingredients. The character of Columbo himself can be seen as a real police investigator this time, interrogating and looking for clues, while in most other Columbo movies he doesn't really feel and act like a police-man but more like a noisy, smart, observing private detective, like for instance Agatha Christie's Poirot or Miss Marple.

Perhaps it's true that the movie focuses more on the perpetrators than on the Columbo character, even more than usual but I see this as a part of the reason why this movie is different and more original from other Columbo movies, rather than as something that is bad about the movie.

The movie also really benefits from Richard Kiley, who plays a fine role, as Columbo's main suspect. His character carries the movie for quite a large part.

A movie that doesn't follow all of the usual Columbo movie rules but works out fine anyhow thanks to its well written script, that helps to make the movie one of the more original Columbo movies out there.


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