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 1,189 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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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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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 Columbo cannot sleep in the barracks and has to make a telephone call, he gets out of bed barefoot. As he starts to walk, we hear the sound of shoes on the floor. He wears laced shoes, so he couldn't have simply slipped into them as he rose. See more »


Col. Lyle C. Rumford: A word to the wise, Loomis: beware of a misplaced sense of justice.
See more »


The Thunderer
Written by John Philip Sousa
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User Reviews

Crackerjack Columbo story
1 September 2005 | by (Port Talbot, South Wales,UK) – See all my reviews

A strong and decisively emotionless performance from Patrick McGoohan, a well-sustained taut atmosphere and an effectively economical script are the main assets of this gem of a Columbo story which has a military academy as its setting for the entire duration.

McGoohan deservedly won an Emmy for his performance in which he doesn't flinch at any conversation or event in the whole episode - he remains remarkably unflappable to the end. His character is a inflexible disciplinarian, something which ironically contributes to his downfall later on...

The resolution is incisive, unpredictable and totally satisfying. A vintage Columbo episode, in which the script, plot and acting are very effective and well-judged in equal amounts.

24 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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