Columbo (1971–2003)
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Last Salute to the Commodore 

Charlie Clay runs the ship building business of his father-in-law, Commodore Swanson, who turns up murdered; Lt. Columbo is on the case.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Charles 'Charlie' Clay
Kittering, Esq.
Commodore Otis Swanson
Sergeant Theodore "Mac" Albinsky
Joanna Clay
Joshua Bryant ...
Wayne Taylor
Susan Foster ...
Lisa King
Fred Draper ...
Swanny Swanson
Coast Guard Officer
Guard (as J. P. Finnegan)
Joseph Roman ...
Shop Foreman
Hanna Hertelendy ...
Jerry Crews ...


Charlie Clay runs a ship-building business owned by his father-in-law, Commodore Otis Swanson, who is not happy with his profiteering son-in-law's shady dealings. Nor is he pleased with any of the people closest to him, including his alcoholic daughter Joanna Clay, his elderly nephew Swanny Swanson or his lawyer Kittering. Soon the Commodore is murdered, and Charlie Clay covers it up by impersonating the Commodore, taking the corpse out on the man's yawl at night and throwing the body overboard. Lt. Columbo investigates this case with the help of a veteran sergeant and a 29-year-old novice. The rumpled, redoubtable detective knows Clay covered up the crime, but his assumption that Clay committed the crime may prove premature. Written by J. Spurlin

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Release Date:

2 March 1976 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This is the only Columbo episode, in which the audience does not know the murderer from the start. Contrary to the normal Columbo "howcatchem" plot it has a classic "whodunit" ending scene with all suspects gathered in a room to be revealed the perpetrator. See more »


Columbo sprawls out on the pier with his left leg extended beneath him, and his right leg up and bent. Then he instantly switches to having his right leg extended below, and his left leg up - then switches back again. See more »


Columbo: I'd like to make a preliminary check - if you don't mind.
Charles 'Charlie' Clay: No, no, no. I like everything... preliminary.
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Featured in Big Daddy (1999) See more »


This Old Man
Traditional English children's song/nursery rhyme.
On soundtrack in several variations at end as Columbo rows away
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User Reviews

You win some and you lose some
13 February 2006 | by (Norfolk) – See all my reviews

I'm a big fan of Peter Falk and his Columbo series - any showing is a must-see for me even where I have already viewed them a dozen times before since they aren't who-dunnits and Falk always gives a performance worth watching. Sad to say I think this is one of the two or three very disappointing episodes. Falk plays Columbo at half-speed, his two side-kicks are one (most would say two) too many, Vaughan has nothing to do and so ends up doing nothing, but most of all the pace of the first hour of the movie is far too slow.

So what went wrong. I suspect here we have a director trying for a twist on the Columbo formula - which is OK, it made sense to throw an off-speed delivery occasionally - and also experimenting with 'improvisation' by the actors. As we all know that sometimes comes off and sometimes crashes and burns horribly. In this case sadly the latter. The little quirky scenes in Columbo movies are a delight - but here almost the whole movie is made up of such scenes and so the plot gets horribly lost.

It should come as no surprise to fans of the Columbo genre that the director was Patrick McGoohan. A brave experimental director and actor

  • and here in 1976 given the opportunity to try something out. Sadly it

doesn't work. However, given his fine performances in 4 other Columbo movies - and his fine direction in four other than this -I'm still a fan!

40 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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