Columbo (1971–2003)
24 user 9 critic

Death Lends a Hand 

Columbo matches is skills against Brimmer, a former cop turned private investigator with a quick temper who tries to blackmail a client's wife, when she refuses he accidentally kills her and it's up to Columbo to nail him.


Bernard L. Kowalski (as Bernard Kowalski)

On Disc

at Amazon




Episode complete credited cast:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Robert Culp ... Investigator Brimmer
Pat Crowley ... Mrs. Lenore Kennicutt (as Patricia Crowley)
Ray Milland ... Arthur Kennicutt
Brett Halsey ... Ken Archer
Eric James Eric James ... R.J. Denning
Don Keefer ... Medical Examiner
Len Wayland ... Capt. Of Detectives
Lieux Dressler ... Ceil Gentry
Barbara Baldavin Barbara Baldavin ... Brimmer's Secretary


A private detective kills the wife of one of his most important clients when she refuses to take part in his blackmail scheme and even plans to expose his unsavoury methods to her husband. In an ironic twist, the PA is rehired by his client to assist Columbo in the investigation.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

6 October 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

"Colombo: Una trappola di Colombo" (1971) See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


First appearance of Robert Culp in Columbo, out of four. The others are: The Most Crucial Game (1972), Double Exposure (1973), and Columbo Goes to College (1990). He also makes an appearance in the pilot of the series Mrs. Columbo in 1979. See more »


As Brimmer chews out Denning, Denning puts his hands in his pockets, but when the scene cuts to a room shot, Denning's hands are behind his back. See more »


Teddy: [as Columbo pushes him on a swing] Higher!
Columbo: Higher? Listen, if you go any higher, you're gonna go right over the top.
See more »


Referenced in Law & Order: Criminal Intent: Dead (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

A well-plotted and solid early Columbo adventure
19 April 2002 | by The Welsh Raging BullSee all my reviews

A very high-standard Columbo story which was actually the first filmed episode of the long-running series but was originally transmitted second (after "Murder By The Book").

Robert Culp makes his first of three appearances as the guest murderer in the series and plays the owner of a private detective agency, who blackmails the wife (Patricia Crowley) of a rich, highly influential businessman (played very sympathetically by Ray Milland) after he falsifies a report, in her favour, after it is discovered she was having an affair. The wife later rebels against the blackmail scheme but is killed in a fit of rage....

A very satisfying episode in many respects, particularly as the plot is so strongly set-up and subsequently developed and also because of the rare Columbo ingredient that the crime is an unpremeditated killing. The whole thing is further enhanced when the widowed husband uses the murderer to assist Columbo in his investigations: a feature that facilitates numerous good quality scenes, particularly in the first sequence when the three central characters meet and Columbo's crucially deceptive qualities are wonderfully in evidence.

Directed with flair by Bernard L. Kowalski and acted to an appropriately high level, this really set the tone for whole series (since "Murder By the Book" was let down by a poor ending). The script by Columbo creators Richard Levinson and William Link is precise, well-structured and well-thought-out and is underpinned by a steady, productive pace and meaningful sequences which really exhibit the unpredictability of the story. Ultimately, the finale fittingly epitomises that Columbo has always been one step ahead of the murderer.

Overall, this is a very fine piece of detective work for Columbo, and strongly suggests that the production team had worked positively and constructively to render a polished Columbo story.

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