Columbo: Season 4, Episode 3

By Dawn's Early Light (27 Oct. 1974)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 1,172 users  
Reviews: 27 user | 3 critic

The commandant of a military academy murders the chairman of the board, who wants to oust him. Lt. Columbo takes up residence in the barracks to expose the killer.



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Title: By Dawn's Early Light (27 Oct 1974)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Burr DeBenning ...
Madeleine Sherwood ...
Miss Brady (as Madeleine Thornton-Sherwood)
Tom Simcox ...
Sergeant George Kramer (as Bruce Kirby Sr.)
Sidney Armus ...
Karen Lamm ...
Susan Gerard
Cadet Morgan (as B. Kirby Jr.)


Colonel Lyle C. Rumford, the proud Commandant of a military academy, is incensed that William Haynes, the owner of the property, wants to turn it into a co-ed college. So, Rumford plots to kill Haynes with a back-firing cannon that Haynes is due to fire in a ceremony. Rumford arranges for the cannon to explode by blocking its discharge with a cleaning rag and thereby making the explosion seem an unfortunate accident caused by a clumsy attendant. Los Angeles Police Department's Lieutenant Columbo comes to the academy to investigate Haynes' death and instantly suspects that Rumford had something to do with the explosion, which Columbo believes was not accidental. Columbo unrelentingly seeks to prove that Rumford had motive and opportunity to rig the cannon. Written by Kevin McCorry <>

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Release Date:

27 October 1974 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Bruce Kirby (as Bruce Kirby Sr.), who plays Sargeant George Kramer, is the real life father of Bruno Kirby (as B. Kirby Jr.) who plays Cadet Morgan in this episode. See more »


When Haynes walks into the Commandant's office, in the long shot, there is a solid red furled flag with white stars (it is unclear of whether or not it is a General Officer's flag which would also be in error) over the Commandant's left shoulder but in all other shots, this flag has been replaced with the California State Flag. See more »


Col. Lyle C. Rumford: Do you have a first name?
Lt. Columbo: I do. My wife is about the only one that uses it.
See more »


Arranged by Daniel Butterfield
Played by unseen bugler
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User Reviews

Great Battle of Wits
15 August 2003 | by (Cleveland) – See all my reviews

Columbo vs. Patrick McGoohan's character is a classic -- better than many films, keeps you on edge and wondering the whole way. Definitely worth watching if you can find it. Here you see two actors who really know how to fill out a character and make him come to life. Huge fun.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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