Columbo (1971–2003)
27 user 6 critic

A Friend in Deed 

A police commissioner provides a false alibi for a wife killer, but then expects an alibi in return.


Ben Gazzara


Peter S. Fischer, Richard Levinson (created by) | 1 more credit »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Richard Kiley ... Mark Halperin
Rosemary Murphy ... Margaret Halperin
Michael McGuire ... Hugh Caldwell
Val Avery ... Artie Jessup
Eric Christmas ... Bruno Wexler
Eleanor Zee Eleanor Zee ... Thelma
John Finnegan ... Lt. Duffy
Arlene Martel ... Salesgirl (as Arlene Martell)
Victor Campos Victor Campos ... Doyle
Joshua Bryant ... Dr. MacMurray
John Calvin ... Charlie Shoup
Byron Morrow ... Amos Lawrence
James V. Christy James V. Christy ... Sharkey
Alma Beltran ... Mrs. Fernandez


Hugh Caldwell kills his wife Janice and in despair asks for the help of his friend and neighbor Mark Halperin. Mark helps a friend in deed, of course, so the death appears to be the job of a thief, but Lt. Columbo has some doubts. There is not a single fingerprint of the deceased in her house and he begins to suspect Halperin. Unfortunately for Lt. Columbo, Halperin is the deputy police commissioner. Written by Baldinotto da Pistoia

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

5 May 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

En toute amitié See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The funeral home featured in the stock shot is not in California. It is the luxurious Ephrussi de Rothschild villa and gardens in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the French Riviera. This location is notably featured in the James Bond film Never Say Never Again (1983). See more »


In the beginning of the story, the Commisioner is in his bedroom talking to his wife. He is criticizing her for giving away her money to liberal causes. As he takes off his suit jacket, he places the jacket on his clothes valet incorrectly. He drapes the jacket over the top of the valet, where suit pants are to be draped. Suit jackets are to be placed on the next level down, where the wood simulates a person's shoulders, thereby keeping the correct form of the jacket. A strange act for a high ranking police commissioner, who undoubtedly has numerous suits and vast experience with the finer things in life. See more »


Doyle: [to Columbo about the corpse] Good-looking broad except for the, uh, marks around her neck.
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References Strangers on a Train (1951) See more »


Jesus, Joy of Man's Desiring
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
Played at funeral
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

One of the more original Columbo movies.
18 July 2008 | by Boba_Fett1138See all my reviews

Plotwise and the way the story is build up from its beginning till end, every Columbo movie is basically the same. It's the reason why most of the Columbo movies are of the same high quality. There however are a few Columbo movies that stand out. Often a Columbo movie can distinct itself from the others and the usual quality, through its directing style, plot or acting. This is a Columbo movie that knows to distinct itself through its plot.

Storywise this is simply one fine movie. It on top of that is also quite original for a Columbo movie, thanks to some nice little touches that makes the story and its storytelling different from the usual Columbo formula. For instance we don't get to see the first murder being committed at all and there is not one murderer but two, of which one is the deputy police commissioner and Columbo's boss. In the long run the story isn't at all about the first murder in fact. The story on top of that has some small side-plots, which isn't something common for a Columbo movie, also due to its normal short running times. It's a story that develops nicely and has plenty of twists and surprises in it. It's the kind of script that would had also worked out for a good cop thriller movie.

But it's still a typical Columbo movie alright with most of its usual ingredients. The character of Columbo himself can be seen as a real police investigator this time, interrogating and looking for clues, while in most other Columbo movies he doesn't really feel and act like a police-man but more like a noisy, smart, observing private detective, like for instance Agatha Christie's Poirot or Miss Marple.

Perhaps it's true that the movie focuses more on the perpetrators than on the Columbo character, even more than usual but I see this as a part of the reason why this movie is different and more original from other Columbo movies, rather than as something that is bad about the movie.

The movie also really benefits from Richard Kiley, who plays a fine role, as Columbo's main suspect. His character carries the movie for quite a large part.

A movie that doesn't follow all of the usual Columbo movie rules but works out fine anyhow thanks to its well written script, that helps to make the movie one of the more original Columbo movies out there.


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