"Columbo" Negative Reaction (TV Episode 1974) Poster

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An entertaining Columbo!
Syl19 May 2006
I like this Columbo episode. It features American legend, Dick Van Dyke, as the prime suspect in his wife's abduction and kidnapping. His character is an accomplished photographer. He is fed up with his wife and sets up another man who is a paroled criminal to take the fall. Of course, this is Columbo and he will get his man or woman no matter what it takes. I love how Dick Van Dyke's character reveals his dream and nightmare to his wife who has no idea what she is in for. I love the scene with Joyce Van Patten who plays a nun who mistakes Columbo for a homeless person and wants to provide a better raincoat than the one he is wearing. That's another trademark in Columbo episodes, there is often light-hearted humor and Columbo always manages to use his charm and charisma to get away with looking so grim. Anyway, Columbo treats everybody with a kind of dignity that you wouldn't expect.
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There's something eerie from the opening scene ...
Barry-4412 July 2002
I've seen many Columbo movies; Negative Reaction is exceptional. There's something eerie from the opening scene where Paul Galesko's [superbly played by Dick Van Dyke] wife Frances is heard through the darkroom door. Nagging, haunting.

The movie was made in 1974 with all the attitudes and charm of that period. Luckily, I taped this movie and will watch it many times to fully enjoy the actors. Dick Van Dyke is at his wits' ends once Colombo gets finished with him. That's what is so enjoyable about this fine movie.

The ending scene where Colombo sits on a desk is flawless. Of course I'm an extreme Colombo fan, but this movie reminded me somewhat of Dial M For Murder, although the plot and characters are totally and absolutely different. If there are other Colombo fans out there who have seen this particular movie, please feel free to contact me to discuss it.
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A perfect example of what made the series so popular – funny, engaging and very entertaining
bob the moo2 October 2005
Photographer Paul Galesko is fed up with his domineering and joyless wife and decides enough is enough. Taking her to a deserted ranch, he ties her up, photographs her and kills her. He then goes and meets with his patsy – an ex-con called Alvin Deschler and sets the end game in motion by arranging Alvin to call him and then meet him the next day. Thinking he is helping Paul to invest in property, Alvin blindly does what he is told and falls into the trap and ends up dead. Paul then shoots himself in the leg and calls the police for help and when they follow the trail to Mrs Galesko's body and it all appears open and shut. However the sheer amount of evidence against Alvin worries Columbo and sets him picked at the threads until he can be satisfied.

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. Knowing this ahead of time won't ruin anything for you; 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. With this film the whole formula is in place and it works really well: the setup is complex enough to give Columbo something to dig away at and more than enough to keep the audience watching and guessing how he'll solve it. It is a little bit easy because Galesko is forced to become a moving target but it is still pretty satisfying. The ending is well written and produces a very satisfying conclusion that sees Columbo playing a perfectly pitched game.

This entry in the series is also a fine example of how small comic touches can improve the film. We have a handful of specifically funny moments but also a general air of good humour that runs all the way through the film. It is a common touch in the series but this is the funniest one that I can remember seeing and the arrival at the junk yard, the scene in the mission and the drive with the DMV instructor are all hilarious and suit Columbo's character really well. Falk also delivers well; he totally gets his character and he sharp while also playing it downbeat. Van Dyke worried me a little bit as a choice but he is pretty strong and works well with Falk. The support cast is quite good too – with an early role for Beverly Hills Cop's John Ashton and a really funny turn from Storch as the DMV guy.

Overall this is a very fine Columbo that is spot on in almost every regard and is a perfect example of what made the series so popular. The mystery is engaging, the investigating interesting, it is funny, it has cat'n'mouse and it has two great leads playing off each other well. If you want to see what the series is all about then watch this to find out.
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fab Columbo with a dramatic turn by a comedy master
blanche-212 September 2005
Dick Van Dyke is a photographer whose artistry gets in the way of the murder of his wife in "Negative Reaction," an excellent Columbo episode. Van Dyke is married to Antoinette Bower, who is such a bitch, Van Dyke doesn't care if he gets caught for murdering her or not. Nevertheless, he goes to great lengths to set things up perfectly. But he doesn't count on the man in the raincoat.

There is a hilarious bit in which Columbo goes to a soup kitchen to try to find a homeless man who witnessed the murder of Van Dyke's accomplice, whom Van Dyke has also killed. The well-meaning nun, beautifully portrayed by Joyce van Patten, gives Columbo some soup and tries to find him another coat, believing him a bum! I dearly love Falk as Columbo, and this is a great episode where he unmasks a murderer who was just a little too artistic for his own good.
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Columbo top 5 candidate
louiss26 January 1999
Ranks in my top 5 Columbo episodes. Van Dyke plays against type as slimy murderer and the scene with Falk picking up Drivers Test examiner Storch is the funniest of the series. Columbo trips up Van Dyke as he often does his suspects however with a more believable trap than usual.
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Certainly not a negative reaction to this episode!
The Welsh Raging Bull10 September 2005
If Jack Cassidy had starred in this 1974 Columbo story I might have regarded it as the best episode in the entire series; however, Dick Van Dyke does a very good job at portraying a hen-pecked photographer who develops a nastily effective plot to dispose of his wife and implicate a recently-released prisoner.

Virtually flawless in plot and script, Columbo is at his most irritatingly mischievous here as the clues start accumulating in a crisp, well thought-out and well-timed manner (the newspaper clippings which are presented later in the episode is priceless).

As with all vintage Columbo episodes there is wonderful comedy too: Columbo goes to quiz a driving instructor whose car has broken down and he has to give him a lift; the ensuing moments see the driving instructor condemning Columbo's wayward driving to the point of complete and utter intolerance...

The ending is very neat and unpredictable, and is underpinned with significant irony as Columbo's newly-discovered knowledge of photography comes in extremely handy!
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Probably the funniest of the Columbo series
taurus-1821 May 2004
I adore this episode; it's a very interesting premise and it also has more humor than in usual Columbo episodes, and I love that! It's priceless when the nun mistakes Columbo for a homeless person - love the amusement on his face - and it's just hysterical how the driving examiner reacts to Columbo's driving style. Larry Storch was a hoot as the examiner! Dick Van Dyke made a very convincing villian, and it was smart of him to take this role. Probably opened the door for him to do more dramatic roles and not stay pegged as just a comic actor. Such a talented guy! I love the Columbo character - he's precious. What a legacy for Peter Falk, as everyone knows and loves his Columbo!!!
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First class murder mystery
Rosabel29 December 1999
Dick Van Dyke plays a crafty murderer with a well thought out plan to kill his termagant wife. His affable surface appearance contrasts shockingly with the cool calmness with which he commits first one murder and then another one to make sure of his own safety. Along with the serious murder story, this episode has some of the funniest little interludes of all the Columbo movies. I particularly liked the one where Columbo goes to a Catholic soup kitchen for information, and is mistaken by a well-meaning nun for an especially pathetic derelict. Naturally, the first thing she wants to do is to fix him up with a decent raincoat! The conclusion of the movie is almost perfect, but in the final analysis it relies on tricking the murderer into making a slip, and this time it seems a little too pat to be believable. However, that is a minor flaw, and this movie on the whole is one of the best Columbo mysteries.
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Oh Rob!
Brian W. Fairbanks21 May 2003
Dick Van Dyke successfully shakes off his good guy image as an acclaimed photographer who offs his nagging wife and attempts to pin the blame on a kidnapper, actually a naive ex-con who is but a puppet in Van Dyke's scheme. Excellent Columbo once again finds the detective catching his killer with evidence that would never hold up in court, but like most of the early episodes (this is from season # 4), it's an entertaining cat and mouse game with Peter Falk in fine form.
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Well worth watching for Dick Van Dyke!
TheLittleSongbird27 June 2010
I saw Negative Reaction for two reasons, I love Columbo and I love Dick Van Dyke(Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Diagnosis Murder), so this episode was like a match made in heaven. One or two scenes go on for a little too long, but other than that it is a very solid Columbo outing with a lot going for it. It is striking to look at with great photography and locations, and the music is intense enough. The story is involving and well-rounded off at the end, and the script is well written with enough grit and humour to satisfy, especially the scene with Falk and Van Patten, one of my favourite Columbo moments. And the acting is great, Joyce Van Patten is hilarious and Peter Falk is exceptional as Columbo. But it was Dick Van Dyke who was the biggest surprise, he was wonderful in this episode, it is so different from his other roles. Here he plays a ruthless and conniving villain and he does it so well. Overall, a rock solid episode, with a great if different performance from a comedy legend! 9/10 Bethany Cox
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OK mid-level Columbo fare
bcstoneb44429 June 2015
This Columbo entry is watchable enough, I suppose. But my attention wandered, admittedly. Two hours worth is a tough sell. I agree with some of the other reviews. Dick Van Dyke here doesn't make a very formidable villain. Moreover, his chemistry with Falk is not the strongest. As with many of the two-hour episodes there's some padding. This time the filler segments – with Joyce Van Patten and Larry Storch – are actually pretty good. Also, I'd have to say, as in some other episodes, the so-called evidence is pretty thin. The details were pretty circumstantial and shaky at best. Overall this is fairly good, if not top drawer Columbo.
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The great Dick Van Dyke fails as a "Columbo" villain—or maybe the character fails him
J. Spurlin16 January 2007
The Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Paul Galesko (Dick Van Dyke) has a scheme for murdering his overbearing wife (Antoinette Bower). He hires a newly released ex-convict (Don Gordon) to be his assistant and asks him do things that seem innocent—rent a remote cabin, buy a camera, etc. Then Galesko lures his wife to the cabin, ties her up, takes pictures of her with the ex-con's camera—and finally kills her. Later this will look like a bungled kidnapping. Galesko has sent ransom notes to himself that seem to have come from the ex-con. He's pretended to have a phone conversation with a kidnapper in the presence of the maid. He even stages a scene that leaves the ex-con dead and himself with a bullet in his leg. To the police, it looks the way Galesko wants it to look. He tried to pay the kidnapper the ransom money, but the man panicked and shot him; then he defended himself by shooting back. Now Galesko can take his secretary/mistress (JoAnna Cameron) on a trip to the Philippines and live happily ever after. Too bad for him our rumpled Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) has an even sharper eye than the famed photographer.

Mystery fiction is filled with meek little men who murder their domineering wives (see Alfred Hitchcock's "Back for Christmas"). But whatever the opening scenes in Peter S. Fischer's script may try to imply, there's nothing meek about Paul Galesko. He's cold, ruthless and conniving. We feel some sympathy for him when we meet his despicable wife, but lose it the moment he murders a man just to strengthen his alibi. At no point after the murder do we find him to be a man capable of being browbeaten—by his wife or anyone else. This robs him of a proper motive for his crime. And that robs us of seeing a believable human being as the lead villain—something essential to a successful "Columbo" movie. Dick Van Dyke is a great favorite of mine, but he never manages to make this empty character seem real.

Once again, a "Columbo" episode has comic scenes that exist purely to pad the running time. The scene with the kindly Sister of Mercy (Joyce Van Patten) is funny at first—but it's three times longer than it should be. The scene with the driving instructor (Larry Storch) isn't funny at all.

The music credited to Bernardo Segall seems to have been written by Generic TV Music Unlimited; very different from the weird but effective scores written by Billy Goldenberg. The final scene is only mildly satisfying, bringing to a close this disappointing "Columbo" effort.
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I wanted Galesko (Dick Van Dyke) to get away with it!
last-picture-show6 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is a fine entry in the Columbo series with the wonderful Dick Van Dyke giving a superb understated performance as long-suffering photographer Paul Galesko plotting a scheme to murder his nagging wife (Antoinette Bower). What makes it so good is the fact that when he kills her she says he won't get away with it and he replies that he doesn't care whether he does or not he just wants rid of her. Of course Columbo sees that he is caught and there's a lot of fun along the way. I particularly like the scene with the nun in the mission hall and the part where Columbo pretends to take some bad photographs at the cemetery in order to make Galesko feel superior. Also details like Columbo's entrance into the scrap yard where the cop thinks he's trying to sell his car for scrap and the scene where Columbo can't find an ashtray and uses his pocket. It all adds up to something very special. My only problem is that Galesko seems such a nice guy that I wanted him to get away with it. And I can't believe that someone so intelligent wouldn't take trouble to make sure that all the little details were taken care of. And that last scene where Columbo forces him to pick out the right camera to incriminate himself - why didn't he just say that he guessed it was that type of camera because of the type of photograph it was. He is after all a photography expert.
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Storch's moments are too brief..excellent show
hrayovac15 December 2010
My favorite (almost cameo) part is delivered by Larry Storch who, about to conduct a DMV driving test with Columbo the "student" driver says to him, "I'm hungry..irritable." He establishes this with such immediate hostility, you know what he's been through all day within seconds of his introduction to the episode. His segment is short but it's hilarious as you watch how he becomes more and more flustered, holding his clipboard on the passenger side while Columbo takes the driving test with predictable results. Good comedians, like perhaps John Belushi and to some extent Jim Carrey made this kind of character development work for them with greater notoriety but Storch did it early on. He injects such a lively personality to his parts no matter how small they might be. Another example of this is his larger part in the off-beat film, "The Monitors."
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Very Entertaining Columbo Vs Wife-Killing Photographer Cat-And-Mouse Thriller
ShootingShark6 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Paul Galesko is an acclaimed photographer who kills his shrewish society wife and tries to pin it on an ex-con with an extortion rap, whom he also kills. Columbo doesn't quite buy his kidnapping story however, and sets a trap for this Bluebeard.

One of the best-known and most enjoyable Columbo stories, this one succeeds like so many due to the talented cast. Falk is absolutely top-notch here, the shrewd bluffer par excellence, filled with comedy, pathos and endless nuance. A bearded Van Dyke gets a rare chance to play the villain, Van Patten is hilarious as a soup-kitchen Sister who takes pity on our poor hero (one of the funniest scenes in any Columbo) and series regulars Scotti and Mike Lally, both playing hobos, are great. Even the minor players, like Storch as the nervous driving instructor, are terrific. I'm never quite sure how I feel about the ending to this story though - the gag with the camera is clever, but really isn't any kind of solid evidence, and Columbo's dejection at resorting to such a trick is nicely played. It's almost as if writer Peter S. Fischer didn't want Van Dyke caught, despite the fact that he's a fairly egotistical and mostly detestable killer. It's a great little TV crime classic though, with Falk at his chiselling keenest (such as the scene where he looks at the dust on the clock) and the sequence in the flophouse alone is unmissable. Great entertainment.
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The best of great series.
DICK-11118 July 2001
This episode episode is full of different characters that are all played by skilled actors. Dick Van Dyke plays his role of Paul Lasko to perfection. And of course it goes without saying that Peter Falk does his usual excellent job as Lt. Columbo.
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Diagnosis: Mediocre
bribabylk10 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I won't bother recounting the plot, as many before me have already taken care of that, but I'll just say that I was looking forward to this one because I hadn't seen it before and because of the guest star villain, but it didn't exactly knock my socks off. Dick Van Dyke was certainly competent in the role, but he didn't evoke much sympathy or particular dislike. And the ending, in which the murderer has to be tricked into picking out the incriminating camera, seemed like a long shot to me; I don't have any kind of legal expertise, but it just doesn't seem to me that that or the lack of cut up newspaper would be enough for a jury to convict. Still, the episode was certainly watchable and otherwise entertaining enough. Something else worth noting: Joyce Van Patten, who played the nun in the humorous sequence in the soup kitchen, would go on to play a murderess in a future episode.
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Rolf D Buckmann8 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
GOOf: The plot develops well, with many hints against Paul Galesko, the murder. To mention some: the dust under the clock, the delay between the two shots, the Sing Sing connection, the taxi, the drive license, the car rental and so for. Its a very nice movie, and it could be one of the best episodes in my point of view, but...

Unfortunately, the ending has a big mistake.

Paul Galesko DON'T NEED to check the original negative in the camera to know, or to proof, that the image was inverted. He, as a professional photographer, will notice it very easily, because ALL what they get in the photo would be MIRRORED. Saying it more clearly: all what are left turns right and vice versa.

The victim, his wife Frances, appears in the picture beside the clock, and so, his left arm is now the right one and the right,left. All her jewels, or what else she wears or has, is shown on the other side. Paul certainly will notice this in a short overview.

I rated the movie with 8/10, but when I get the goof, I reduced it to 6/10.
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Love the Irony
Cbrown-242-66146518 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I've watched every Columbo several times. And tonight I just saw a subtle moment that made my night. This episode (Dick Van Dyke as a beat-up husband in Negative Reaction) features Dick's wife, the nasty woman who drives him to find affection in his assistant. In reality, she's a German actress who in this episode, is shot by Van Dyke with a ...wait for it...Luger. How did I miss it? Just smart.

Of course, the hilarity with Storch and Van Patten is terrific as well. I for one love the moments with Columbo and random members of the LAPD who engage with him at crime scenes in random conversations, often related to Columbo's chronic car trouble or not recognizing him as a Lieutenant. It's also inevitable that the on-scene cops have determined (incorrectly) how the murder has gone down. Fantastic that they never get it right. Same group that went after OJ and that didn't exactly work out for anyone.
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Positive Reaction to this Episode
Greg Helton26 November 2017
This episode is much better than many of the Colombo episodes made in the 1990s. The murder plot in this one is a doozy and, unlike many of the Colombo episodes filmed in the 1990s, in this episode, sets and locations all evoke a real time and place. Unfortunately the same locations are used on almost every episode of The Rockford Files. I loved seeing Larry Storch from F Troop in a bit part as the nervous driving test instructor.
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Very weak villain
aromatic-223 June 2001
Van Dyke's ineffective portrayal as an egocentric photographer drags down this sub-standard series entry. His lack of chemistry with his lover also does not help. Columbo is in fine form but needs a worth villain. It's strange to see how bad Van Dyke is in this, because he winds up his career playing a Columbo-like surgeon in the terrific Diagnosis: Murder many years hence.
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If Sufficiently Provoked
bkoganbing11 November 2012
Dick Van Dyke who later was on the other side of the criminal justice system solving murders as Dr. Mark Sloan is our murderer in this Columbo TV film. He's a society photographer married to one shrew of a wife in Antoinette Bower. Bower only has a few scenes in the beginning and even I would have murdered her if sufficiently provoked.

The problem is that part of Van Dyke's scheme is to stage a false kidnapping of his wife and frame some innocent patsy for the crime and kill him as well. The patsy is Don Gordon recently released from the state penitentiary himself. Poor Gordon can't believe that a big shot like Van Dyke is taking an interest in his rehabilitation. Some things are too good to be true.

Van Dyke has fallen for JoAnna Cameron who would become TV's Isis in another year. Can't fault him for taste.

A couple of other interesting parts are Vito Scotti as a poor drunken homeless guy who's a witness, but his memory is kind of foggy from all the booze. Peter Falk has to track him to a soup kitchen and the nun in charge Joyce Van Patten naturally mistakes him for a client. It's a very funny scene. Columbo TV shows were always laced with a little humor to lighten the dirty business of solving murders. There's also Larry Storch who is a motor vehicle inspector and a most nervous chap who clears the late Mr. Gordon of the crime, but not without a few anxious moments with Columbo driving.

I don't think that anyone as smart as Van Dyke would have fallen for the trick Columbo uses to nail him for the crime in the end. It's not one of the better Columbos, but all right.
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Bearded Van Dyke A Polished Photoographer
DKosty12328 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This one features Dick Van Dyke in the murder role. He shoots two people which such a calm demeanor that it is kind of strange. The plot he has contrived seems to be fool proof as he is using a clock set too the wrong time, a phony kidnapping, & a lot of deception too try & keep Columbo off the trail.

Some great humor is spotted in this one. Columbo's car is nearly written off as scrap, Columbo is mistaken for a bum in a soup kitchen, and a couple of other good gags. Especially, Columbo taking a driving license tester (Larry Storch) on a ride so wild that Storch questions his sanity in Columbos old jalopy.

This one has a great ending which I will not spoil except too say he takes major advantage of Van Dykes ignorance in knowing just who he is matched up against. An excellent out for this series.
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Columbo: Diagnosis Murder.
Boba_Fett113817 June 2008
This Columbo movie is easily among the very best. It has a nice story, even better story-telling and a Dick Van Dyke in top-form, opposite Peter Falk.

Accoring to the rules of Columbo logics and standards, this shouldn't be a good Columbo movie at all. The movie, with its one and an half hour, is far longer than a regular Columbo movie and the character Columbo appears late into the story. The movie also features more humor than a regular Columbo movie and the character of Columbo himself is perhaps more looking like a bum than ever before. All things that make this movie differ from the usual Columbo movie series. Yet it is one of the Columbo movies that work out the best, due to its story, directing and Dick Van Dyke, who plays perhaps one of the best and most interesting Columbo movie 'villains'.

It's finally a Columbo movie again with a true ingenious thought out murdering plot, that of course however is not as perfect as it seems at first sight and there are still some clues left out for the good old Lieutenant. The story is being told in a good murder-mystery movie way and its hard to imaging that the same man who directed previously the Columbo movie "Columbo: Mind Over Mayhem" also directed this movie. They are two completely different movies in terms of its style and overall flow and way of storytelling. So perhaps its more thanks to the very fine script of this movie that makes this one work out so great and makes it one of the best Columbo movies to watch out there.

It's not necessarily a movie that simply feels as a made for TV Columbo movie. It's also plain and simple really good as a murder-mystery/thriller movie. The movie is also more treated that way. We see Columbo sitting around at the police station and thinking and interacting with his colleagues. It just doesn't feel like a Columbo movie who feels forced and obligated to put in certain elements and story bits to make this movie a typical Columbo movie. It's more original in its approach, which also makes this one of the more refreshing Columbo movie to watch.

What makes the movie also really work is Dick Van Dyke. Normally when I see this guy- and it doesn't ever matter what role he plays, I don't see a character, I simply see Dick Van Dyke. However not in this role and he really simply is Paul Galesko. Perhaps this also has to do with his beard or perhaps the fact that he plays a more 'villainous' character, something we haven't often seen him in during his still going on career.

An amazingly great Columbo movie.


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Very good, could have been better
padrelaw28 June 2015
Dick van Dyke is one of my favorite actors (I believe I have seen everything in which he has appeared), but this episode of "Columbo" left me wanting better for him.

First, of course, the story is simple and irrelevant: a man kills his wife, frames another man, and is caught through small errors.

However, the largest error van Dyke's character makes is almost laughable: he claims to have been shot by the framed man, and shoots himself in the leg with the gun pressed against his pantleg. Is there anyone in America who remains unaware of stippling (gunpowder patterns indicating a contact wound)?

Beyond that, his use and supervision of the pre-planning with the framed man left so many clues that he may as well have painted an arrow on the ground pointing to himself.

Columbo often borders on rudeness; in this episode, he crosses the line, loudly and obnoxiously taking photographs at a funeral. Why? What was so necessary to photograph that couldn't have waited? Very disappointing scene.

All that aside, van Dyke is excellent, as always, and if you like these types of shows, you will very much enjoy these 90 minutes.
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