Columbo (1971–2003)
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A Friend in Deed 

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



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Mark Halperin
Margaret Halperin
Hugh Caldwell
Artie Jessup
Bruno Wexler
Eleanor Zee ...
Lt. Duffy
Salesgirl (as Arlene Martell)
Victor Campos ...
Joshua Bryant ...
Dr. MacMurray
John Calvin ...
Charlie Shoup
Amos Lawrence
James V. Christy ...
Alma Beltran ...
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 deputy police commissioner. Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia

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Release Date:

5 May 1974 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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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: You must have a lot of those, sir.
Mark Halperin: What?
Columbo: Gut feelings.
Mark Halperin: What're you talking about?
Columbo: Well, you had a gut feeling last night.
Mark Halperin: I don't know what you're talking about. What do you mean "last night?"
Columbo: When you asked for me to report to the Caldwell house.
Mark Halperin: Yes?
Columbo: I found out that you asked for me when you first called in.
Mark Halperin: I did.
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References Strangers on a Train (1951) See more »


Jesus, Joy of Man's Desiring
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
Played at funeral
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User Reviews

A top episode of a top series
11 November 2006 | by (Tulsa OK) – See all my reviews

This series - particularly the earlier episodes - is certainly one of the best ever. I missed this particular one when originally aired, but saw it several years later, and then again recently. (Like Andy Griffith's "Andy Griffith Show" and "Matlock," this is a program for which one is grateful for the reruns available on cable today.)

This particular program, though, is the one I'd probably label my all-time favorite - among many, including those with the ubiquitous Columbo "killers," Jack Cassidy, George Hamilton, etc.

One of the greatest mistakes in the entire history of film was the casting of Peter O'Toole in the lead for "Man of La Mancha," rather than Richard Kiley, whose Broadway performance in this role was among the most acclaimed, ever. Kiley was an immensely- and diversely-talented actor, who should be more prominently recognized and remembered among his peers than he is.

His portrayal as the egotistic, manipulative, greedy deputy police commissioner, and the villain of this episode, is outstanding. The "shtick" of this series, of course, included the usually smooth, urbane, well-dressed, cosmopolitan qualities of the villains - contrasted markedly with Columbo's being the opposite in all of these.

This aspect is certainly apparent here - and the only somewhat puzzling part of the story is the seeming absence of Kiley's knowledge of Columbo's abilities beneath his sloppy exterior - and he would have certainly seen the records of the department certifying the lieutenant's significant abilities.

The main paradox in the history of "Columbo" was the ease with which he seemed to be able always to remain "under the radar," both within the department (even with those with whom he was most closely associated) and on the outside - despite having had to possess a better record for detection and solution of serious crimes than Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot and Sam Spade - combined.

There is no way a review of a "Columbo" episode could be a spoiler. We know from the outset that Kiley is the villain here - however, Columbo's inevitable foiling his devious, wily superior, is perhaps the most clever in the history of this long series.

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