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. Very much in the same way as Hercule Poirot gathers the suspects. This could be a nod to the great mystery writer and Queen of "whodunnits" Agatha Christi, however, having died just two months before this episode aired it seems coincidental rather than planned. 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 »


Charles 'Charlie' Clay: Listen, are the police always called in when there's any possibility of an accident?
Columbo: Accident... Oh, I'm sure this is an accident. Don't worry just because I'm from Homicide. Didn't I mention that? Well, never mind.
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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

A miss from McGoohan.
6 August 2008 | by (Groningen, The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

I really like Patrick McGoohan's most other directed Columbo movies really much, since his directing style certainly give the movies something extra. However he went too far with this movie. The directing and story-telling in general is different from the usual Columbo movie formula. It's a real slow moving movie, in which the killer himself also isn't known to the viewers this time, until of course the very ending. It's obvious they wanted to try something different for the Columbo series, as they tried numerous times before and after this movie as well. Funny though that they always went back to the usual Columbo style we all are so accustomed to.

Really problem with this movie is its pacing. It's annoyingly slow. Sequences seem to go on for ever without getting to its point. It really makes you wonder why the movie wasn't provided with any more pace. At one point Lt. Columbo goes into a trance. The actual movie itself also really feels like it goes into a trance though. It really doesn't make this movie a pleasant one to watch. It's not like the story is anything too bad, or the approach of not revealing who the killer is, or how the murder was committed, until the very end, is a bad one but it just doesn't work out with this type of directing approach as got picked by Patrick McGoohan, who is probably also better known and respected as an actor than a director really.

One thing McGoohan still does right though is the movie its humor. He is one of those directors who understood the Columbo character well and knew how to throw in the right kind of relieving humor, involving the character. Though being a close personal friend of Peter Falk, he probably gave him a bit too much room though to do his comedy thing, since he definitely goes a bit over-the-top with it at times. Oh well, at least he still probably had lots of fun with it.

Poor Robert Vaughn. He's a great actor but the Columbo movies he has starred in just aren't among the greatest. He deserved better, also since he seems really like an actor who is the right guy for playing these type of roles in these types of movies.

Tiresome off-boat Columbo entry. It has a good typical Columbo ending though.


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