Columbo: Season 8, Episode 2

Murder, Smoke and Shadows (27 Feb. 1989)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 779 users  
Reviews: 16 user | 4 critic

An egocentric wunderkind director murders a childhood friend who threatens to expose his negligent complicity in the death of his sister years earlier.



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Title: Murder, Smoke and Shadows (27 Feb 1989)

Murder, Smoke and Shadows (27 Feb 1989) on IMDb 7.4/10

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Alex Bradey
Ruth 'Ruthie' Jernigan
Rose Walker
Leonard Fisher
Mr. Marosco
Jerome Guardino ...
Sergeant Burke
Elizabeth Ruscio ...
Phil Crossette
Gayle Harbor ...
Avner Garbi ...
Meg James ...
Tour Guide


This time Columbo pits his wits against a movie director who murders an old friend on a set, because this friend is in possession of a damaging piece of film, on which the actress died and isn't helped by the movie director. Written by Maarten Hofman <>

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Release Date:

27 February 1989 (USA)  »

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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Columbo is eating at the commissary and overhears the conversation between the two actresses, he puts ketchup on his food. But, when the camera switches to a two-shot of the actresses, the ketchup bottle is sitting on the counter in front of them. See more »


Columbo: [referring to the water bed] You know, I've never tried one of these. My wife, that's Mrs. Columbo, she tried to get me interested.
Alex Bradey: [after Columbo lies on the bed] Well, how do you like it?
Columbo: Well, to tell you the truth, sir, it feels all swimmy. Makes me wonder what Mrs. Columbo had in mind.
See more »


Features Star Castle (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

Even James Frawley can't fully save this movie.
11 September 2008 | by (Groningen, The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

The movie is directed by James Frawley. His Columbo movies weren't among the fastest going ones but they always were among the more stylish ones. He directed the movies with lots of class and he is among my favorite Columbo movie directors. Throughout his career he directed a total of 6 Columbo movies, evenly divided between the '80's and '70's. The also always had a certain amount of fun written over it, in a quirky kind of way, this movie included. The humor always has been one of the great things about the Columbo-series and James Frawley was a person who always seemed to got it right. This was an entertaining movie in parts but I just did not have as much fun watching it as I do watching other Columbo movies.

In this case the movie its pace isn't a great thing about the movie. It takes a long while for Lt. Columbo to enter the picture, which normally is an indication that the movie itself also isn't going to be among the best the long running Columbo series has to offer. The movie is a lot of talk but not enough action. Not enough is ever happening in this movie and the movie gets stuck in its pace.

Combined with this gets the fact that this movie doesn't feature the best Columbo 'villain'. Fisher Stevens also isn't exactly the best known or most perfect person imaginable to play the part. The movie really features some bad casting and the movie was lacking a good and well known actor playing opposite Peter Falk. None of the '80's Columbo movies feature any big stars opposite Peter Falk in it. They obviously were trying to head into a new direction with the series, after it had stopped in 1978 and got re-launched in 1989. It's a reason why the 'later' Columbo movies mostly aren't as good as the beginning of the series, during the '60's and '70's.

The story has a good concept though, although it's perhaps not as well written or clever as it could had been. It still has a great ending though. The movie is set entirely at the Universal studios. It wasn't the first Columbo movie that got set at the Universial studios though. Universal was of course also the distributor of the Columbo movies, so they had no hard time getting permission to film on the lot.

A slightly below average Columbo movie entry.


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