Columbo: Season 4, Episode 3

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

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,024 users  
Reviews: 26 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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Cast

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

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 <mmccorry@nb.sympatico.ca>

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27 October 1974 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Of the four episodes of Columbo that Patrick McGoohan appeared in, this is the only one he did not direct. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Col. Lyle C. Rumford: Officer, you may wish to, uh, detain this man. He refuses to leave the area.
Police Sergeant: This man is Lt. Columbo, sir. He's in charge of the investigation.
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Soundtracks

National Emblem
(uncredited)
Music by Edwin Eugene Bagley
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User Reviews

 
A great way to remember Patrick McGoohan
19 January 2009 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

I totally agree with another post which suggests this episode and the episode "Any Old Port In A Storm" are two of the best Colombo shows made.

The great thing about the Colombo character is that he is very human and as such he understands humanity. He doesn't seem to judge or moralise unless the killer hurts a woman. The best Colombo stories focus on the relationship that grows between the detective and the killer and this is one of those episodes.

Just as in "Any Old Port In A Storm" the killer's way of life is about to be taken away from him, everything he holds dear is is in the hands of someone who just doesn't care. I suspect Col Rumsford (McGoohan) doesn't murder the victim just for his own sake but for the sake of the academy and the boys who attend there.

Patrick McGoohan's performance in this show is exceptional, on the surface Col Rumsford is an un-sympathetic character, he is rigid, he reveals little of himself and he is very strict. But this isn't a two dimensional bad guy, we somehow sense that he is torn between blaming a cadet for the murder and succumbing to his instinct to protect the boy. McGoohan achieves this inner conflict with amazing subtlety and nuance. To be honest I didn't think he was capable of this level of acting, but I was quite moved by his performance.

This episode is a great way to remember Patrick McGoohan, highly recommended.

Be seeing you


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