IMDb > "Columbo" By Dawn's Early Light (1974) > Reviews & Ratings - IMDb
"Columbo: By Dawn's Early Light (#4.3)"
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guide
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

Reviews & Ratings for
"Columbo" By Dawn's Early Light (1974)

« Prev | 27 of 68 Episodes | Next »

Write review
Filter: Hide Spoilers:
Page 1 of 4:[1] [2] [3] [4] [Next]
Index 31 reviews in total 

33 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

A great way to remember Patrick McGoohan

Author: buzzbomb-3 from New Zealand
19 January 2009

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

Was the above review useful to you?

30 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Crackerjack Columbo story

Author: The Welsh Raging Bull ( from Port Talbot, South Wales, UK
1 September 2005

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.

Was the above review useful to you?

24 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Just Fantastic!

Author: g-winchester from United Kingdom
1 November 2006

Just fantastic! Along with 'Any Old Port in a Storm' (Donald Plesance) this is in my opinion, one of the two best Columbo episodes ever made. The story is gripping from start to finish, the direction is tight, the script is full of wonderful moments, and the acting is superb as the two leads spark off one and other. Patrick McGoohan fully deserves the Emmy he won for his performance here.The characterisation is excellent too. Although it's impossible to condone murder, you can almost sympathise with McGoohan's character, such is the strength of his performance. He has no family and his military academy is his whole life. In a sense he loves it and would do anything to protect it; even kill a man who tries to, in effect, destroy it. The supporting players all put in enjoyable turns too and despite their short amount of screen time, play fully developed characters rather than just one dimensional cardboard cut-outs. I must have watched 'By Dawn's Early Light' a dozen times, and I will probably watch a dozen times more in the the future. What more can I say? Go and watch it!

Was the above review useful to you?

23 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Great Battle of Wits

Author: b gonsalves from Cleveland
15 August 2003

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.

Was the above review useful to you?

17 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

a pinnacle of Columbo episodes

Author: fcasnette from United Kingdom
18 January 2007

maybe my favourite Columbo and maybe the best too.

Just look at McGoohans eyes behind that stiff and unyielding exterior, particularly in the one scene where he unbends a little in the office interview with the Lieutenant. No wonder he won the Emmy for this performance.

The contrast in his style with Falks is the highlight of this episode, no wonder they became good friends with many invitations to come back as yet another murderer and also to direct. They bounce off each other superbly taking an already high quality TV series into new realms.

Highly recommended.

Was the above review useful to you?

15 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Arguably the Series' Finest.

Author: Robert J. Maxwell ( from Deming, New Mexico, USA
26 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The series in the 1970s turned out some high-quality episodes that were set in unusual locations -- aboard a cruise ship at sea, in a Mexican bull breeding ranch, Scotland Yard, or (this one) at a military school, actually The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. In a TV series a radical change in settings, like a radical change in the casting, usually takes place when inspiration is flagging and ratings are dropping -- it's when a series begins gasping for air.

But Columbo was different. Not only was Falk's character plucked from his usual haunts and familiar plot lines (stumbling into a high-end world) but the change in location was blended seamlessly into the story. What a good job the writers did.

"By Dawn's Early Light" is no better in its mystery than other of the best episodes, nor is it funnier or more touching. It's lifted out of the ordinary by the insight it gives us into the lives of military cadets and, above all, by the performance of Patrick McGoohan.

McGoohan, I understand, won an award for his acting here, and deservedly so. He pulls off the role of Commandant of the school flawlessly -- without excess dramatics, idiosyncratic quirks, or anything in the way of drawing attention to his craft. His smiles are slight and tolerant. His frowns are mild and reproving. He doesn't shout except to make himself heard across distances. When he walks, it's with a determined stride, fully in character. And when he sits, he sits at attention, as if he'd been encased in ice. And that crackly, precise baritone! If a Rubik's cube could talk it might sound like this. Falk, as Columbo, does his usual good job. By this time, the role fit him like a comfortable old raincoat. And the sloppy police lieutenant is a perfect foil for the crisp commandant. The two work well off one another. McGoohan never condescends to Columbo, never ridicules him or becomes angry, even under circumstances in which we'd expect him to.

An accomplished entry in the series.

Was the above review useful to you?

17 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Excellent Acting! Excellent!! Excellent!! Excellent!!

Author: John from Southfield, MI
21 April 2003

This is one of the few Columbo's in which the acting quality is so outstanding, it makes the detective element that much better.

I did not know much about Patrick McGoohan as an actor before seeing him in this episode as Colonel Lyle C. Rumford. While I was watching this mystery, I found myself more in awe with his acting than with the actual detective element. Watching him made me look into his work more and more. As a matter of fact, I learned that McGoohan won an Emmy Award in 1974 for "Best Guest Star on a TV Series", for this episode.

If you want to see acting at its best, watch this episode the next time it shows up on the Bravo! Channel.

Was the above review useful to you?

15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Gimmick-free "Columbo" episode, with the most fascinating performance in the series

Author: J. Spurlin from United States
11 January 2007

Col. Lyle C. Rumford (Patrick McGoohan) is commandant of a military academy whose chairman of the board, William Haynes (Tim Simcox), wants to turn the place co-ed. (That's about the best motive for murder I've seen in a "Columbo" episode.) Haynes, who is the grandson of the academy's founder and was once a cadet under the colonel, has further decided to boot out his hated former commandant. He also insists on firing the ceremonial cannon on Founder's Day, which gives Rumford a devious idea. After an explosion that kills Haynes and looks like an accident caused by a negligent cadet (Mark Wheeler), our rumpled Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) is on the case—and he quickly learns this was no accident.

"Columbo" is always a good showcase for the actor playing the villain, but McGoohan's performance (for which he won an Emmy) may rank as the most fascinating in the series. In addition to his unsettling mania for discipline, there seems to be a lost little boy hiding underneath his rigid exterior. Twice he hints at homosexuality. He has a lust in his eyes when he promises to punish his boodle boy for unshined shoes. Later he says "No" much too quickly when Columbo asks if he's ever had a rivalry over a woman.

Howard Berk's script is happily free of gimmicks. We already have to suspend our disbelief to accept that a single police lieutenant would encounter more than one of these tricky, high class murders in a lifetime; or that any one of these cases wouldn't bring him fame and an instant promotion. We don't need the added burden of miracle wrinkle creams ("Lovely but Lethal"), implausible murder swaps ("A Friend in Deed"), identical twin killers ("Double Shock") and subliminal advertising ("Double Exposure"). Here we have a plausible murder scheme that the killer has good reason to think he can get away with—provided no one looks into the matter too closely. But Columbo does; and once he realizes the "accident" was foul play, that's it. A less than brilliant detective could have taken it from there, but Columbo does a thorough job of it. He even takes up temporary residence in the barracks to pick up every possible clue.

Harvey Hart's direction is fine, despite a bad opening shot. I happen to have seen this episode several times and I'm always annoyed when I see the camera creep up on McGoohan. That implies that a *person* is creeping up on him, but it turns out it's only us, the "Columbo" fans.

Was the above review useful to you?

11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Traditionalist cannot come to terms with a changing world

Author: Moor-Larkin from United Kingdom
25 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A traditionalist army man is confronted by modern society when the young whipper-snapper owner of his military training camp decides to make it co-ed. He resorts to a typically complex Columbo set-piece murder. Seems a little extreme just because you don't want girls in your school doesn't it!

McGoohan is heart-breaking as the lost soul who wants everything to stay the way it has always been. His victim was so lacking in any attractive characteristics that you have little sympathy for his death. Perhaps that is why the Colonel has to behave dishonourably when he tries to lay the blame for the death on one of his more inept cadets. Despite his ensuring that it looked like the cadet had merely caused an accident, you know this is unforgivable. If it wasn't for having to right that wrong you wonder if Columbo would just have called it quits and let him get away with it! McGoohan gives a further sense that once he has betrayed his own code of honour the Colonel knows that he no longer deserves to carry on. Maybe he even deliberately steps into the trap that Columbo sets for him by dawn's early light.

The setting of the piece in a claustrophobic, echoing, emptying college adds to the sense that the Colonel is being left behind by the rest of the world. Falk scuttles about the place like some alien creature, both admiring what the Colonel has achieved in his life but despairing of his inability to pass the baton and allow the next generation to have a try.

Was the above review useful to you?

10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Well-Acted Columbo TV Thriller

Author: ShootingShark from Dundee, Scotland
8 May 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A by-the-book Colonel in charge of a military academy kills the grandson of the school's founder when he threatens to turn it into a coed college. However, Lieutenant Columbo uses the Colonel's own tenacity in enforcing the rules to expose him as the killer.

Of all Peter Falk's sparring partners on his Columbo TV movies, my personal favourite is McGoohan, purely because he is such a profoundly different actor who contrasts with the scruffy, idiosyncratic Columbo marvellously. Here he expertly plays an ageing military man whose religion of discipline ultimately leads to his downfall. Unusually, this story takes place entirely within one location, with Columbo sleeping on the base, and much mirth is to be found in his adjusting to the military timetable. A great little crime story, featuring two excellent leading performances.

Was the above review useful to you?

Page 1 of 4:[1] [2] [3] [4] [Next]

Add another review

Related Links

Plot summary Ratings External reviews
Plot keywords Main details Your user reviews
Your vote history