Columbo (1971–2003)
37 user 4 critic

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.



, (created by) | 1 more credit »

On Disc

at Amazon


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?



Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Commodore Otis Swanson
Joshua Bryant ...
Wayne Taylor
Susan Foster ...
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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


See all certifications »




Release Date:

2 March 1976 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Dennis Dugan, who played Sergeant Theodore 'Mac' Albinsky also appeared a half year later as young P.I. Richard 'Richie' Brockleman in a TV movie called "Richie Brockleman: The Missing 24 Hours" (released in October following the Columbo episode in March). The Brockleman character later spring-boarded off The Rockford Files in February of '78 to launch into its own series, "Richie Brockleman, Private Eye," which was enjoyable but short-lived. Many Columbo fans confused his modest but memorable appearance as 'Mac' with the later Richie Brockleman, since the two characters were both investigators, disarmingly personable, and brandishing unusual 3-syllable last names. See more »


After identifying the body, Columbo puts his arm around Clay's shoulder to lead him out of the morgue. As they turn, the scene cuts to a rear view and Columbo's hand is grasping Clay's elbow (he then raises it up to his shoulder). See more »


Columbo: Have a nice meditation.
See more »


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
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

An off-beat episode that nearly makes you switch off!
29 November 2004 | by (Port Talbot, South Wales,UK) – See all my reviews

This 1976 episode ignorantly dispenses with the basic Columbo formula in it's thought, style and execution. with a distinct aura of parody smothering it's dialogue and characterisation.

Whether it was felt by the regular members of the Columbo crew that it was time to try something different, or whether things were ad-libbed around a basic storyline I don't know. Suffice to say, that after an interestingly constructed opening with an off-screen murder, the remaining part of the first half of this episode rambles desperately, with characters seemingly unable to keep a straight face, yawn-inducing discussions on boats and parts of boats, and some irritating repetition of secondary characters introducing themselves to each other etc.

It's almost like somebody decided to tighten things up in the second half, with a wonderfully inserted twist relating to the prime murder suspect and a script, which becomes increasingly rich in interesting clues, that facilitate an decent Agatha Christie-like resolution. Despite this significant improvement, the sealing clue is woefully inadequate and thus the glaring mediocrity that haunts so much of the early part of this episode returns at a very crucial time.

Slipshod in overall execution, the script could have been significantly tightened and sharpened to render a Columbo episode that, whilst deviating from the typical approach, would have proved to be a relatively entertaining story.

From a historical point of view, it seems that Peter Falk had intended, prior to the production of this episode, to make this his final outing as Columbo. If this is true, he appears to have changed his mind by the story's finale: his remarks to his colleague about "not quitting" - which in the context of the story, refer to Columbo's smoking habit - may have been a subtle reference to his desire to carry on a little longer.

Sadly, this episode does mark Falk's departure from the portrayal of some of his character's appealingly deceptive traits - the seeming absent-mindedness and dim-wittedness of the Columbo character has been replaced with an unsatisfying and pronounced arrogance. Unfortunately, this would take the gloss of the remaining episodes in the original series, some of which are very good.

Painfully uncertainly paced and padded in places, significant tolerance will need to be shown by most viewers to get them safely through to the second half. Ironically, this addition to the series could provoke more discussion than any other, in light of its very curious approach.

74 of 83 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page