Columbo (1971–2003)
7.6/10
1,324
33 user 4 critic

An Exercise in Fatality 

A health club owner murders one of his franchisees. Lt. Columbo is on the case.

Director:

(as Bernard Kowalski)

Writers:

(teleplay by), (story by) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Gretchen Corbett ...
...
Buddy Castle (as Pat Harrington)
...
Ruth Stafford (as Collin Wilcox)
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Jude Farese ...
Al Murphy
Darrell Zwerling ...
Lewis D. Lacey
Dennis Robertson ...
Jerry
Raymond O'Keefe ...
Sgt. Rickets
...
Medical Examiner
Ernesto Macias ...
Fred (as Eric Mason)
J.R. Clark ...
Harry Lassiter (as J. R. Clark)
Mel Stevens ...
Dr. Freeman
Manuel DePina ...
Photographer
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Storyline

Milo Janus owns a chain of health clubs, but one of his franchisees discovers the man is cheating him - and can prove it to the authorities. Janus responds by murdering his partner and making it look as if he had accidentally killed himself trying to lift a barbell that was too heavy for him. Janus creates a would-be perfect alibi for himself involving a tape recording of his victim's voice, a phone that doesn't light up, a sexy secretary, a party for friends at his house, and a pornographic horror movie. But no alibi is perfect when the rumpled Lt. Columbo is on the case. Written by J. Spurlin

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Details

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Release Date:

15 September 1974 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD release)

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Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Lewis D. Lacey was born on December 2, 1920. He began working at Tri-Con on August 23, 1961 and was terminated on June 12, 1974. See more »

Goofs

The floor when Columbo goes to find Mr. Lewis at the elevator is continuous from the office into the elevator revealing it is not a real elevator as there would be no way for it to move. See more »

Quotes

Columbo: [early in the morning after arriving at the crime scene with a thermos full of coffee] You know, before coffee, I'm up, I'm walking around, but I'm not awake.
[grunts]
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Crazy Credits

During the end credits the usual theme music is not heard. In its place is a jingle for the fictional Milo Janus fitness club instead. See more »


Soundtracks

Stout-Hearted Men
(uncredited)
Music by Sigmund Romberg (1928)
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
Instrumental variation heard satirically whilst Columbo (Peter Falk) is jogging.
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User Reviews

A health club owner plots the perfect murder in this enjoyable entry, with a fine supporting cast—and one bad scene
21 January 2007 | by See all my reviews

Milo Janus (Robert Conrad) owns a chain of health clubs, but one of his franchisees (Philip Bruns) discovers the man is cheating him—and he can prove it to the authorities. Janus responds with a carefully planned murder. He finds his snooping business partner alone in the club and—after an unexpected struggle—crushes the man's windpipe. He puts the corpse in gym clothes, sets it on a bench, places a 180-pound barbell over its neck—and there you go. It looks as if the guy killed himself trying to lift a barbell that was too heavy for him. Janus creates a would-be perfect alibi for himself involving a tape recording of his victim's voice, a phone that doesn't light up, a sexy secretary (Gretchen Corbett), a party for friends at his house and a pornographic horror movie. But no alibi is perfect when our rumpled Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) is on the case.

This is a good episode with only one bad scene: the one where Columbo waits for a snippy secretary—or rather the supercomputer she operates—to provide him with a simple bit of information. His endless wait is the point of the gag, but it's not funny and seems to exist only to pad the running time. Otherwise we have a good villain in Conrad, a man in his late 30s playing a man in his early 50s who looks like a man in his late 30s. The supporting cast is typically good. I especially liked Corbett as the sexy secretary (not the snippy one) who is amused then bemused by our crafty lieutenant; and Collin Wilcox as the inebriated wife of the victim. Both give performances that are rich and varied beyond the call of duty.

The best moment: Columbo drops the pretense and loses his temper with his suspect. Before this point in the series, he had done this only in "Prescription: Murder" and "A Stitch in Crime." Its rarity makes it all the more delicious.

I don't know if I really buy Columbo's damning bit of evidence at the end; but it's so amusing that I can't criticize it. I especially like how a brief moment between a mother and her small child inspires him to look for it. In any case, few "Columbo" fans will find this entry wanting.


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