Columbo: Season 13, Episode 2

A Trace of Murder (15 May 1997)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 630 users  
Reviews: 16 user | 3 critic

A beautiful wife and her forensic expert boyfriend try to frame her very rich husband for murder.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Patrick Kinsley
Cathleen Calvert
Clifford Calvert
Raye Birk ...
Howard Seltzer
Will Nye ...
Officer Will
Harry Jenkins
Alice Backes ...
Harriet Jenkins
Stuart March
Tracy Rose
District Attorney (as Kymberly S. Newberry)
Store Clerk


A millionaire's being threatened with a lawsuit by a man he did business with. When he gets into a fight with the man, his trophy wife is more embarrassed than concerned about her husband. Now she can't divorce her husband because of a pre-nuptial agreement. And if she kills him, she would be the prime suspect. So she along with her lover decides to kill the man who is suing her husband and frame her husband. Which they do. When Columbo investigates the murder, one of the forensic people helping him is the woman's lover. Written by <>

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Release Date:

15 May 1997 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Peter Falk always went on preliminary location scouts with his director, production manager, production designer, art director, set decorator, driver captain and location manager. The director Vince McAveety, production designer Hub Braden, the production manager Christopher Seiter, on the initial scout with Peter Falk, had to convince Peter that the location would make a great building to film exteriors and interiors. Budget restricted renting a Universal Studio's stage and building all the sets required for the scenario's set demands. Downtown Los Angeles, adjacent, north, of the Harbor Freeway, is the former Union 76 headquarters building. The front exterior and interior lobby was the location for the police headquarters. The rear delivery entrance of the building was also filmed as the police station. The lower garage area and driveway ramps were dressed with police graphics, police cars, for the headquarters garage area. The lower floor (Union 76) computer room was converted into a police lab. On the upper Union 76 executive suite floor, this open office area was converted into a penthouse setting. With stage flats, additional door entrances, closing down the expansive office area, the penthouse suite was created with the downtown city horizon as a master view. Several other offices in the building were converted into scripted offices and apartment interiors, requiring additional door flats, stage wall flats, painting, drapery and furniture dressing. The building's rooftop was also filmed. Since this "Columbo" was filmed, this building has been converted into a film production facility, which has built additional stages on adjacent property formerly owned by Union 76. See more »


When Columbo is showing Pat a map, he starts to lay the map out on a desk and says "This first". In the very next shot he once again says the same thing, "This first". See more »


Lt. Columbo: Gee, I've got a dozen stops to make. You know, the first day of a homicide investigation, you wouldn't believe it. It's murder.
See more »


Follows Columbo: A Bird in the Hand... (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

Not bad, but the ending drags
26 December 2002 | by (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

Let me say this right off the bat: the two worst actresses in the world are Kate Capshaw and Shera Danese. Watching Danese's misplaced facial expressions, hammy acting, arm waving, and screechy voice sucks all the fun out of this Columbo film. She does absolutely nothing good with the plum role she's given. Bad director or bad acting? I tend to believe the latter.

Danese's acting aside, this is a pretty enjoyable Columbo film, well-paced and fairly involved. The joy of watching Columbo is wondering if he already knows who the killer is; in the 1970s films, you could never tell, and that was part of the fun. That sense of enigma is lost in these later films, especially in this one, where he doesn't realize it until well into the film. No matter what else he does, this is Peter Falk's signature role, and he has been a lucky actor for not getting typecast, given his variety of roles over the years.

All in all, I recommend this film as a worthy contributor to the Columbo legacy.

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