IMDb > "Columbo" A Friend in Deed (1974)

"Columbo" A Friend in Deed (1974)

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Peter S. Fischer (written by)
Richard Levinson (created by) ...
View company contact information for A Friend in Deed on IMDbPro.
TV Series:
Original Air Date:
5 May 1974 (Season 3, Episode 8)
A police commissioner provides a false alibi for a wife killer, but then expects an alibi in return. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
A strong story delivered well by strong performances aided by a director with an eye for helping the actors See more (19 total) »


 (Episode Cast) (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Peter Falk ... Columbo

Richard Kiley ... Mark Halperin

Rosemary Murphy ... Margaret Halperin

Michael McGuire ... Hugh Caldwell

Val Avery ... Artie Jessup

Eric Christmas ... Bruno Wexler
Eleanor Zee ... Thelma

John Finnegan ... Lt. Duffy

Arlene Martel ... Salesgirl (as Arlene Martell)
Victor Campos ... Doyle
Joshua Bryant ... Dr. MacMurray
John Calvin ... Charlie Shoup
Byron Morrow ... Amos Lawrence
James V. Christy ... Sharkey

Alma Beltran ... Mrs. Fernandez
Albert Popwell ... Al Como
Ben Marino ... Sgt. Ned Randall
Judson Morgan ... Charles
T.J. Castronovo ... Policeman (as Tom Castronova)
Paul Sorensen ... Police Pilot
Bernie Kuby ... Nathan Flowers
Mike Lally ... 2nd Bartender
Richard Lanci ... 1st Patrolman (as Richard Lance)
Eldon Burke ... Photographer
Jack Krupnick ... Limousine Driver
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Duke Fishman ... Cop (uncredited)
Ben Frommer ... Bartender (uncredited)
Mickey Golden ... Reporter (uncredited)
Michael Jeffers ... Barfly (uncredited)
Cosmo Sardo ... Club Member (uncredited)

Dianne Travis ... Woman In Bar (uncredited)
Max Wagner ... Barfly (uncredited)

Episode Crew
Directed by
Ben Gazzara 
Writing credits
Peter S. Fischer (written by)

Richard Levinson (created by) &
William Link (created by)

Produced by
Edward K. Dodds .... producer
Dean Hargrove .... executive producer
Roland Kibbee .... executive producer
Original Music by
Dick DeBenedictis  (as Dick De Benedictis)
Billy Goldenberg 
Cinematography by
William Cronjager (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Robert L. Kimble 
Art Direction by
John W. Corso 
Set Decoration by
Bill McLaughlin (set decorations) (as William McLaughlin)
Production Management
Brad H. Aronson .... unit manager (as Brad Aronson)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Phil Cook .... assistant director (as Phillip Cook)
Sound Department
Wallace R. Bearden .... sound (as Wallace Bearden)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Grady Hunt .... costumes
Editorial Department
Richard Belding .... editorial supervisor
Arnold Baker .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Steve Johnson .... colorist (uncredited)
Music Department
Henry Mancini .... composer: Mystery Movie theme
Hal Mooney .... music supervisor
Other crew
Wayne Fitzgerald .... main title design
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
USA:95 min | USA:98 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Australia:PG (video rating) | Finland:K-18 (2005) (DVD) (self applied) | UK:12 (video rating) (2005)

Did You Know?

The funeral home featured in the stock shot (at around 36 mins) is not California. It is the luxurious Ephrussi de Rothschild villa and gardens in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the French Riviera. This location is notably featured in the James Bond movie Never Say Never Again.See more »
Revealing mistakes: When Columbo opens the door to the balcony in the Commissioner's bedroom it opens in. When the shot continues from the outside, the door opens out.See more »
Police Pilot:A little early in the evening for this burglar, isn't it, Commissioner?
Mark Halperin:You never know, Pete. Clocks don't mean a thing in an empty house, you know.
See more »
Movie Connections:
References Strangers on a Train (1951)See more »
Jesus, Joy of Man's DesiringSee more »


List: Murder swaps
See more »
5 out of 8 people found the following review useful.
A strong story delivered well by strong performances aided by a director with an eye for helping the actors, 11 August 2005
Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom

When Hugh Caldwell has yet another fight with his wife it ends in tragedy as he accidentally kills her in a struggle. His first call is to his friend and neighbour Mark Halperin, who also happens to be a senior policeman. Halperin advises covering it all up and helps Hugh set up an alibi in a bar, while he goes to his house and covers up the crime before "spotting" a man in the Caldwell property from his own bedroom window. The police find Mrs Caldwell dead and investigate the crime, believing it to be the work of a burglar who has been working in the area recently. Columbo doesn't totally accept this though because of a couple of small things that don't ring true and sets out to try and prove what he thinks he knows.

As with many TV film series (such as Perry Mason), if you like one or two of them then you'll pretty much like them all. This entry in the Columbo series pretty much follows the usual formula – we know the killer and the "perfect" plan but then watch Columbo follow his hunch and gradually starts to pick holes in the story he is told before eventually finding enough to prove his suspicions. Saying this is not a spoiler – it is simply what happens in all the films. With this strict adherence to formula it is usually down to several factors whether or not the Columbo film stands out or if it is just average. Here the "deed" of the title is a murder and the friend involved in the "deed" is none other that the Deputy Police Commissioner Mark Halperin. This sets up quite a good story early on that only has a few weaknesses – specifically the steps that Halperin takes later in the film, they seem unlikely, too impulsive and risky for such a powerful man. It might have worked if he had been written as arrogant or cocky but he isn't, he is smart and scheming. Once you get past these though the film is strong mainly because it gets the cat'n'mouse stuff spot on.

The attempts at comedy fall flat, nor do they manage to add to the character of Columbo – the broken car and the desire for a cheap watch strap aren't funny and don't add anything to the story. However what director Gazzara does do well is frame a shot and he gives the series a gritty feel of the streets at times that was a fresh addition. More than that though, he gives the cast plenty of close ups and nobody takes more advantage of that than Falk himself. He is Columbo through and through but the close ups put him under pressure to show a lot in little things on his face, and he does it well. We can see his doubts, his thought process and even see it in his eyes as he sets and then springs the trap. It is a fine performance and it is these shots, rather than the broken cheap goods he owns, that tell us about the character. Kiley is a good match for him and plays his character well – a worthy accomplice who doesn't play with Columbo but does think he has played the player. The film is at its best when the two men are on screen together. The support cast are less able; Murphy and McGuire are OK but they are never more than passable and I kept wanting them to step aside for the main event.

Overall this is an enjoyable Columbo film that is built on a typically strong story. The actors rise to this and produce some good interplay and director Gazzara helps them out a great deal by directing with an actor's eye, dishing out close-ups and clever shots that add to the performances. A strong film in the generally strong series.

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