Columbo: Season 7, Episode 4

How to Dial a Murder (5 Apr. 1978)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 921 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 4 critic

A behavioral psychologist whose wife died under suspicious circumstances trains his dogs to kill on command using a telephone.

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(teleplay), (story), 2 more credits »
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Title: How to Dial a Murder (05 Apr 1978)

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
...
...
Dr. Eric Mason
...
Joanne Nicholls
Joel Fabiani ...
Dr. Charles Hunter
...
Dr. Garrison
Tricia O'Neil ...
Mrs. Cochran - the dog trainer
...
Officer Stein
Fred J. Gordon ...
Technician
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Storyline

Dr. Eric Mason is a self-controlled man and he teaches how to get control over one's own life. His wife died suddenly because of an inexplicable accident and his best friend is Dr. Garrison, or so it seems. Eric has two dogs and his two Doberman pinschers will be his arms to kill Dr. Garrison. But Lt. Columbo love dogs... Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Release Date:

5 April 1978 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the many movie posters on display in Dr. Mason's house is for the 1940s thriller, "The Suspect", starring Charles Laughton. This is significant, as the structure of "The Suspect" prefigures the formula for "Columbo", presenting us, not only with a killer whose identity is known from the outset, but also a seemingly mild-mannered and polite police detective who befriends the killer and knowingly uses him, rather than a police colleague, as a sounding-board for his various theories about the crime. It is the close relationship between killer and detective thus formed that leads to the resolution of the story. It is not known if William Link and Richard Levinson, creators of "Columbo", ever saw this film, but it was made by Universal, like "Columbo". See more »

Goofs

Trees in the background remain still while tumbleweeds are blown around by high winds. See more »

Quotes

Lt. Columbo: [trying to trigger the attack word for the dogs] Kill! Kiss! Diamonds! Rubies! Sneakers!
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Connections

References You Can't Cheat an Honest Man (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

This Old Man
(uncredited)
Traditional English children's marching song
Whistled by Peter Falk
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User Reviews

Williamson is good, but don't say 'Rosebud'.
4 January 2003 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

British actor, Nicol Williamson, as the guest murderer, earns his transatlantic paycheck in this fine story. As always with Columbo, the culprit is rich, resourceful and highly intelligent, and Williamson's take on the character, a motivational psychologist, is detailed and meticulous. It may not be his finest screen performance (check out The Bofors Gun and Inadmissible Evidence), but he makes a worthy foil to Falk.

The story has some interesting cultural asides, such as L.A.'s burgeoning self-help craze of the 70's, and the cult of the movies, particularly Citizen Kane; something which proves to be both the killer's murder weapon and his eventual undoing.

The only let-down is the somewhat low-key ending. I would have preferred more of a flourish from both actors, but it wasn't really in the script for them.

Over all, it's an intelligent and interesting movie. Patrick Williams' ethereal/ominous music (woodwinds and low strings) is rather good, and which, once or twice, quotes a fragment of Bernie Herrmann's Psycho score; why? For the hell of it. And why not?


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