Columbo: Season 5, Episode 4

A Matter of Honor (1 Feb. 1976)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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When a famous bullfighter's trusted bookkeeper turns up dead in a bullring, Lt. Columbo suspects murder--with a bull as the murder weapon.



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Title: A Matter of Honor (01 Feb 1976)

A Matter of Honor (01 Feb 1976) on IMDb 6.8/10

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Episode complete credited cast:
Commandante Sanchez (as Pedro Armendariz Jr.)
Curro Rangel
Jorge Rivero ...
Miguel (as Emilio Fernandez)
Enrique Lucero ...
Jaime Delgado
Chambermaid (as Evita Munoz Chachita)
Robert Carricart ...
Hector Rangel
Nina Montoya


Famed matador Luis Montoya is a national hero in Mexico. His ego cannot countenance any blemish on his reputation; so, when one of his best friends witnesses an event that could shatter that reputation and tries to leave Montoya's sphere of influence, the bullfighter acts quickly and decisively with a clever murder. Unfortunately for him, Lieutenant Columbo finds himself stuck in Mexico, and local police ask him to assist in the investigation. Columbo quickly finds that he must take the bull by the horns if he wants to take down a legend like Montoya. Written by Leaper

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Release Date:

1 February 1976 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the beginning of the episode, Ricardo Montalban who plays Louis Montoya is watching what is supposed to be an old clip of himself as a young matador. The clip he is watching is actually from the movie Santa (1943) in which Montalban plays a bullfighter. See more »


When Columbo discusses his findings with Commandante Sanchez on the market square whilst an orchestra is playing, a policeman in the background disappears and reappears in the same pose. See more »


Lt. Columbo: Is that the autopsy?
Commandant Sanchez: That's the weather report.
Lt. Columbo: [trying to read it] It's in Spanish.
Commandant Sanchez: Yes, I know that. The people at the weather bureau speak it very well.
See more »


References Columbo: Troubled Waters (1975) See more »

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User Reviews

Columbo investigates a murder in a bullring; Ricardo Montalban plays in something more watchable than "Fantasy Island"; the audience gets an adequate time-filler
5 February 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Luis Montoya (Ricardo Montalban) is an ex-bullfighter, renowned throughout Mexico for his courage in the ring. His trusted bookkeeper, Hector Rangel (Robert Carricart), has a son (A Martinez) who is also a bullfighter. The son was recently gored in the ring and sent to the hospital. Montoya and the elder Rangel were both at this bullfight, and something happens that neither can ever forget. When days later, Rangel ends up dead in the bullring, it looks as if he tried to revenge his son on the bull by fighting it alone. Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) of the Los Angeles police department, on vacation with his wife in Tijuana, is persuaded to investigate the case by Commandante Sanchez (Pedro Armendáriz). Our rumpled, redoubtable detective notices things that lead him to suspect murder—with a bull as the murder weapon.

Columbo's official trip to London ("Dagger of the Mind"), his vacation on a cruise ship to Acapulco ("Troubled Waters") and now his trip to Tijuana, all have lead him into investigating tricky crimes. No matter where he goes, rich and famous people are trying to pull off the perfect murder.

This is the first time that any direct reference is made to another episode. Commandante Sanchez is familiar with the case in "Troubled Waters," which is why he asks Columbo to join him on this one. Acknowledging earlier episodes is a mistake. It requires a great suspension of disbelief to accept that a single L.A. police lieutenant would ever encounter more than one of these high profile cases in a lifetime; or that any one of them wouldn't earn him fame and an instant promotion. The best way to pull this off is to pretend that each case is unique and that none of the others really happened. To me, every "Columbo" exists in its own alternate universe.

Having Columbo investigate a murder in a Mexican bullring is one of several novelties the series tried around this time. It's odd that the more this show departs from its strict formula, the more it seems like a conventional TV show. There's nothing particularly wrong with this episode; it just feels like a hundred other TV time-passers. Also, by this point in the series, the show had begun to look and sound more conventional anyway. Gone are the weird visual flourishes, like the murder cover-up that is presented to us in Robert Culp's eyeglasses (" Death Lends a Hand."); and gone is the psychedelic music from Billy Goldenberg.

Still, the scenes where Peter Falk plays cat-and-mouse with the guest villain-of-the-month are invariably entertaining, even in the weakest episodes. And it's nice to see Ricardo Montalban in something more watchable than "Fantasy Island."

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