Columbo (1971–2003)
26 user 5 critic

Murder in Malibu 

A successful writer of romance novels who is involved with a young, ambitious womanizer, is found shot to death in her Malibu home.


Walter Grauman


Richard Levinson (created by), William Link (created by) | 1 more credit »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Andrew Stevens ... Wayne Jennings
Brenda Vaccaro ... Jess McCurdy
Floyd Levine ... Lieutenant Schultz
Laurie Walters ... Helen Ashcroft
Sondra Currie ... Mrs. Rocca
Janet Margolin ... Theresa Goren
Tom Dreesen ... TV Host
Charles Walker ... Truck Driver
Ben Slack Ben Slack ... Doctor
Yolanda Lloyd Yolanda Lloyd ... Rosa
Efrain Figueroa ... McGee
Mary Margaret Lewis Mary Margaret Lewis ... Mavis
Robin Gordon Robin Gordon ... Shorts
Bill Zuckert ... Father


Romance author Theresa Goren has finally been convinced of the truth: her lover, gigolo Wayne Jennings, loves her money, not her. That means their planned wedding is off, not to mention any hope Jennings has of getting his hands on her money. When Goren turns up dead, Jennings is suspected, but is apparently cleared by later evidence. But Lt. Columbo watches as Jennings turns his eye to Goren's sister, and begins wondering if he's really so innocent after all. Written by Leaper

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

14 May 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Meurtre en deux temps See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One year before this episode came out, Brenda Vaccaro and Peter Falk were in a movie together; it was called Cookie (1989). See more »


(at around 1h 8 mins) When Columbo and Wayne Jennings are up in the cherry-picker and what looks like a colony of bats flies overhead, the worker who is up there with them says that they are crows. See more »


Doctor: Sorry, Lieutenant. I didn't know you were in such a hurry.
Lieutenant Columbo: I am now. I just decided.
See more »

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User Reviews

The winning formula is in place but the delivery is poor across most aspects of the film
13 February 2006 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Famous authoress Teresa Goren finally wakes up to the truth that her young lover Wayne Jennings is not so much in love with her as he is in love with her money. She tells him the wedding is off and that he'll never get a penny of her assets; this doesn't exactly please Jennings so, before Goren can tell anyone of her decision, he kills her and covers his trail, making it look like a robbery gone wrong in her house. Columbo joins the investigation and notes that the robber was able to cleanly break into the safe but still smashed glass to get through a very basic wooden door. Naturally he suspects Jennings but, with the evidence seemingly clearing him, he turns to him for help.

It may say more about me than anything else but there must be something wrong with a film where the main thing that gets my heart going is the sight of a cherry picker being used without any harnesses being worn and sadly that is the most memorable moment in this film. The plot is pretty much to formula so in theory it should have been OK, which as a fan I suppose it is but the problem is with the delivery of the story. The case is reasonably interesting but it doesn't develop that well and it does involve Columbo knowing an uncomfortable amount about woman's underwear. However the plots have never been the strongest in Columbo and it is usually the formula that carries the film – a formula that we all know but one that involves strong performances from the leads, something that is lacking here.

It isn't Falk's fault because he does his usual stuff pretty well and will please fans with a character that has given him the career that he has. No, the problem is with pretty much everybody else. Stevens is hardly of the standard of suspect that we have come to expect and he doesn't work with Falk at all well. He is bland and dull in a formula that calls for presence, chemistry or at least energy; true to script gave him a soft character but he still has to carry some of the blame. Likewise Vaccaro, Levine, Walters and others all barely do the minimum required of them and nobody really helped Falk do a job that, on this occasion, he couldn't do by himself.

Overall this is an OK Columbo because in essence the formula is in place but really it is done without any great skill or effort. The story is poorly developed and didn't engage me and, with such roundly uninspiring performances, this problem was laid bare and was not one that the film could recover from. Fans might just get something from it but there are many, many better Columbo films out there.

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