Columbo (1971–2003)
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A Matter of Honor 

When a famous bullfighter's trusted bookkeeper turns up dead in a bullring, Lt. Columbo suspects murder--with a bull as the murder weapon.


Ted Post


Brad Radnitz, Richard Levinson (created by) | 1 more credit »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Ricardo Montalban ... Luis Montoya
Pedro Armendáriz Jr. ... Commandante Sanchez (as Pedro Armendariz Jr.)
A Martinez ... Curro Rangel
Jorge Rivero ... Carlos
Emilio Fernández ... Miguel (as Emilio Fernandez)
Enrique Lucero ... Jaime Delgado
Evita Muñoz 'Chachita' ... Chambermaid (as Evita Munoz Chachita)
Robert Carricart ... Hector Rangel
Maria Grimm Maria Grimm ... Nina Montoya


A famous retired matador learns that his long-time friend and book-keeper plans to retire after he & the matador bear witness to a horiffic attack on the book-keeper's son by a bull at a recent tournament, and that the matador had shown fear which would destroy his reputation for bravery. Fearing the book-keeper could expose this revelation to his thousands of fans, the matador gets rid of him by luring him into the practice ring at his ranch, shooting him with a poisoned tranquiliser dart and then setting his pet bull on him. Columbo who's coincidentally on a family holiday in Mexico, is asked for his assistance in the investigation by the country's Chief of Police.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »





English | Spanish

Release Date:

1 February 1976 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Blutroter Staub 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
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In the beginning of the episode, Ricardo Montalban who plays Louis Montoya is watching what is supposed to be an old clip of himself as a young matador. The clip he is watching is actually from the movie Santa (1943) in which Montalban plays a bullfighter. See more »


When Hector is tranquilized, he is only 5-ft. away from the back wall, but in the next camera shot when Luis crosses the bullring to release the bull, Hector is 20-ft. or more away from the back wall toward the center of the enclosure. See more »


Lt. Columbo: May I ask you a personal question, sir?
Luis Montoya: Oh, by all means.
Lt. Columbo: Did you injure your leg in the bullring?
Luis Montoya: [nodding] On the Plaza Del Toros, Mexico. It was the wound that ended my career. And, ironically, it wasn't even the bull I was supposed to fight. You see, I was appearing mano a mano with a young matador who froze, and the bull gored him. I jumped to his rescue, and I, too, was gored. Badly. Here. They tried to take me to the infirmary along with the young matador, but I refused to go. Despite the...
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References Columbo: Troubled Waters (1975) See more »

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User Reviews

Fear is the Key
21 August 2006 | by sol1218See all my reviews

(There are Spoilers) On vacation with his old lady in Mexico Let. Columbo, Peter Falk, gets into a minor fender-bender. Columbo is then forced to leave his car, which has only a slight dent on it,for the weekend to be examined by the local authorities to clear up any local insurance charges. Not willing to leave his car behind and go back to L.a Columbo gets very friendly with local police Commandante Sanchez, Perdro Armendariz, who's a big fan of his by reading about Let. Columbo's exploits as a L.A homicide detective in the local Mexican press.

It just turns out that Commandante Sanchez is involved in investigating a messy accident at the famous Montoya Ranch. One of the workers Hector Rangel, Robert Carrlcart, was gored to death by the ranch's most dangerous bull "Marinero". "Marinero" had earlier put Hector's son the local up and coming star bull fighter Curro, A. Martinez, in the hospital when he also gored him but in the foot not like he did Hector in the chest and upper body that ended up killing him.

The ranch owner the legendary Mexican bull fighter Luis Montoya, Rocardo Montalban, begged Hector not to fight "Marinero" but the bull-headed Hector wouldn't listen. Knowing that his hot-blooded son Curro would go back into the bull ring to have another round with the dangerous bull as soon as he recovered. Hector in an effort to keep his son from getting killed in him wanting to face "Marieno again in the bull ring went to take on bull himself. Something strange happens when Hector readied himself to take on "Marinero". Luis shoots him with a dart gun, loaded with a dose of Choloral Hydrate, from behind getting Hector a bit dozy. This gave "Marinero" all the time he needs, by making Hector an easy and stationary target, to run Hector through and finish him off with his deadly horns.

At first thinking it's was just a terrible accident with a father trying to finish the job that his son started, kill "Marinero" in a bull-fight, Commandante Sanchez is about to file it away as just that an accidental death. Let. Columbo, who's just tagging along for the ride, thinks outer wise and unofficially takes control of the case, to Luis Montoya's great annoyance. Let. Columbo starts to zero in on the circumstances of Hector's death and they all spell premeditated murder.

Being afraid of challenging the legendary Montoya's description of Hector's death, an unfortunate accident, Commandante Sanchez has Let. Columbo, unofficially mind you, take over the case. It's then that Let. Columbo comes up with a number of major inconsistencies that lead straight to Montoya as the murderer of Hector Rangel. With Montoya using the killer bull Marinero" as the murder weapon.

Dogging Luis like a bloodhound Let. Columbo never gives him a moments rest as he constantly pesters him about his whereabouts the day Hector was killed. Coming up with a number of clues that contradicts all of Luis' alibis Let. Columbo drives Louis almost to the point of using his skills as a champion bull-fighter to do in the very aggressive and no BS, Det. Columbo. Commandente Sanchez who at first wouldn't dear to stand up to national hero Luis Montoya sees like Let. Columbo that he's holding something back in his description of the last hours of the life of his good and life-long friend Hector Rangel. Risking his job as a well paid comm-andante in the Mexican Police Commandente Sanchez himself, like Let. Columbo, starts getting under Luis' skin together with the pesky and annoying L.A detective.

It turned out that the brave and heroic champion bull-fighter Luis Montoya turned yellow and chickened out when Curro was attacked and gored by the rampaging bull "Marinero". It turned that Hector, not Luis, coming to his son's rescue. This fact that only Hector knew of Luis' cowardice and would have gladly kept it secret in order the save his friend Luis' reputation, as a fearless man in the bull ring, was what got the hurt and humiliated him. Luis Montoya had to have Hector killed to save his reputation even if he was the only one who know about his freezing up at the sight of danger.

It was only later when Columbo, together with a recovered Curro, tricked Luis Montoya to get into the bull ring with the wild mad, and foaming from the mouth, "Marinero" that he proved just what a gutless coward he is, or became, and at the same time also proved that he was responsible for Hector's murder.

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