"Columbo" Strange Bedfellows (TV Episode 1995) Poster

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The Limits of A Good Cop?
theowinthrop9 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is not the best Columbo episode, nor even my favorite, but it has one moment in it that I will always treasure.

George Wendt has a chance here - finally - to move away from his lovable barfly "Norm" in CHEERS. Here he plays a hard working grasshopper type. He runs a horse farm, and has been grooming and training a potentially great horse. But he's stuck with a ne'er-do-well brother (Jeff Yagher)who is potentially going to wrecked all of Wendt's hopes by his gambling debts. Wendt kills this idiot, but now has to figure out how to avoid going to jail because of it. His brother's debts are owed to Jay Acovone (playing a bookie for the Mob). Wendt lures Acovone to his home to collect the debt, and shoots the bookie "in self defense". The idea is that Yagher was killed by the bookie as a message to Wendt to pay up or else.

Enter Colombo...and Peter Falk is soon beginning to spot all the apparent unnoticed minor details that Wendt overlooked (but which the surface incidents seem to cover pretty well). But Falk realizes he has competition. It seems mobsters have private lives too. Acovone was more than a Mob bookie: he was the close godson of local Mob capo Rod Steiger, and Steiger (who like most capos has a pretty shrewd head on his shoulders) realizes that Acovone had no hand in this crazy "message" murder if he was expecting to be paid.

What happens then is similar to an episode from the first decade of "Colombo" where Hector Elizondo was an Arab diplomat who killed Sal Mineo to hide and advance a conspiracy against his monarch, and Falk and the monarch end up putting Elizondo on the spot in a squeeze play. Here Steiger works with Falk in putting Wendt in a similar squeeze-play.

Falk and Steiger have nice moments together, including a moment of lunch when Falk suddenly realizes they are eating a specialty that he can't eat, but Steiger happens to like. But the best moment comes when Wendt sees his real moment of truth. Confronting Steiger and his army of goons at a small coffee shop, only Falk happens to be there. When Falk (playing his game on Wendt) sees that Steiger means to kill Wendt and anyone else who is "troublesome", he says finally, "My salary is not worth this!", and walks out. We know he's doing it to effectively scare Wendt, but boy is it funny to see his limit finally!
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I'm surprised by some of the poor reviews. This is one helluva episode and a whale of a ride.
Harry Smart13 May 2014
A little over the top, and might not fly 100% in reality, but still one of the wildest, funniest and wackiest of all the 69 episodes. Columbo is not the doddering old fool that he portrays in some of the later movies. He is serious, with a tinge of humor throughout. Although he seemingly goes on and on with his stories, in actuality few of his lines are wasted at all. In every line he drops some subtle allusion that is part of his grand design to ensnare his suspect. George Wendt will never be mistaken for a great actor. But he actually is well cast in this particular role - a lying, not too bright criminal, who nonetheless designs a brilliant, extremely complex murder/frame-up plan that only Columbo can figure out. Consequently, he is convinced that he is smarter than he actually is. So naturally he looks down at Columbo and keeps saying unnecessary things w/o realizing that Columbo is setting him up. Rod Steiger, in a brilliant performance as a mafia godfather, is hilarious and delectable (although even someone like me, who can't speak any Italian, can easily detect that his Italian diction is laughable, spoken like a true American of French, Scottish, and German descent might speak it). As for those reviewers who say this film is bad because Columbo is out of character, I respectfully disagree. He often uses questionable means to get the proof of the murderer's guilt, once he is convinced that he surely has the actual murderer. Yeah, it's a little overboard here, but it works because it is done with a sly smile, rather than in a purely serious manner. The final wild roller coaster ride seems finally to have entered the realm of the inconceivable, until the truth is revealed about what just happened and it gives you a big laugh. Hang on!
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Highly Underrated, This Is A Classic Episode
stubbers22 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
All the elements are in place here, great acting and an interesting story. Columbo's trademark mind games about smoking and mice are especially hilarious. What's great is that he suspects Graham McVeigh from the very beginning and is deliberately toying with him. It's a particularly good combination of comedy and suspense in this episode.

The triple-bluff restaurant scene was excellently planned by Columbo, and as in "It's All In The Game", he will gladly go to great lengths in socialising with people (in this case the Mafia) in order to get his conviction. But it's made clear that Columbo is a "cream soda" kind of guy, so it's not out of character at all, just what he has to do to get enough firm evidence of McVeigh's guilt.

I honestly don't think you can say this is in any way inferior to the original 70s episodes. It's perfect, timeless stuff.

One of the best.
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Worst Columbo Ever (actually, 2nd worst)
gvcormac29 November 2004
The worst Columbo ever was "No time to die." This was the second worst. Why? Because Columbo was completely out of character, and committed reprehensible and illegal acts in trapping his prey: he plainly assaulted the suspect (death threats and ramming his car), held him against his will, extorted evidence (the location of the gun), a confession, and under threat of death a an ongoing covenant to take the fall.

Columbo is supposed to be a sympathetic goody-goody character (albeit a slob), not a felon.
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An Under-appreciated "New" Classic
gerard-218 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of the best 1989+ Columbos because it relies on that old standby of the 1970s classic era, a great performance by a heralded movie actor, this time Rod Steiger. Columbo's interactions with the mob chieftain and his utilizing him to get a confession out of the murderer are nothing short of fantastic.

Additionally, the double murder plot is very reminiscent of the Columbo halcyon days gone by. I mean, couldn't you just picture Jack Cassidy in the George Wendt role? And while many of the 1990s era episodes involved slip ups in the use or proof in the form of the technology of the time, there is none of that here. Wendt's mistakes are small and not definitive; as in the good old days, they are just enough to make Columbo suspicious and he then has to rely on his guile and wits to get the murderer to incriminate himself; in this case revealing where the most crucial piece of evidence is hidden.

And reviewers who claim that it is out of character for Columbo to use less than honest methods to trap his prey must not be familiar with a few of the very best Columbo episodes like A Friend in Deed, Death Lends a Hand and Negative Reaction. Basically, once his instincts convince him who the killer is, he would do just about anything to see the case through. In fact, Columbo admits to pretty much exactly that in the 1989's Columbo Goes to College.

All and all, an extremely entertaining later entry in the series which hearkens back to the golden years.
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Strange to say the least
TheLittleSongbird9 April 2012
Strange Bedfellows was one of those episodes that I wasn't sure what to make of at first. After further viewings, I think there are both good and bad things and that it is neither among the best or worst of the series. That said, if I were to rank the Columbo episodes Strange Bedfellows for me would be somewhere around the bottom, not because it's terrible but because there have been better episodes and so many good, often amazing, ones.

What were the good things? Well as is the case with all the Columbos, it is filmed and directed beautifully, and has a good score. I did admire that it attempted to stick to formula after some episodes that tried to be different but failed due to bad execution, it was mostly interesting and had some good scenes, with Columbo's triple bluff being the highlight of the episode. Of the support cast, Bruce Kirby was fun and Shani Wallis was a nice find but my favourite was Rod Steiger, not his best role but he is very good here.

Peter Falk does a fine job with what he had with the iconic character of Columbo. He has a lot of charisma and has some inspired line delivery. I wasn't taken with how Columbo was written in this episode though, Falk does make an effort to make him true to how he usually is but the material works against him. Columbo does seem out of character(note I said seem before somebody objects), and is not as likable as he often is. It is not as bad as him sending himself up in Last Salute to the Commodore or being almost completely sidelined in No Time to Die, but it didn't work for me.

My main problems though were the script and three performances that didn't work for me. There have been much cleverer, more arch, funnier and more tense writing before in Columbo, here the cat-and-mouse scenes between Falk and Wendt that are often highlights of Columbo seemed bland and lacking in tension and the script seemed very pedestrian in places. George Wendt I agree is too boorish and too unsubtle in his role, but he is at least better than the dull Jeff Yagher and the irritating Karen Mayo-Chandler.

All in all, a strange episode that at the end of the day I was very mixed on. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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Weak Columbo entry.
Boba_Fett113812 November 2008
I wouldn't exactly call this movie an horrible one but compared to the usual Columbo movie standards, this is a rather weak entry in the long running successful series, starring Peter Falk.

Some very odd things are happening in this movie, that just don't feel 'Columbo-like'. I would call this movie a rather unrealistic one, even for usual Columbo movie standards. It also really isn't the most clever Columbo movie around and it's actually a quite poorly written one, that perhaps even becomes a bit ridicules at part. Also the way the murder itself is being planned out and committed is quite ridicules in my opinion.

Vincent McEveety always was a director who tried out some new things for his Columbo movies, often with success but there also are some movies that simply don't work out well enough, of which this is obviously one.

It's also often a real slow movie. Some of the sequences go on for far too long, which I blame to the dialog. Some of the dialog is absolutely dragging and its the type of dialog in which the same things get said 3 times over again. It makes some of the sequences within this movie annoying to watch as well.

The movie also isn't really helped by its cast. George Wendt isn't an horrible actor but yet he really doesn't act well in this movie, so you can say he got miscast. It's still interesting to see Rod Steiger in this Columbo movie and his role is actually quite bigger than he gets credited for. Hardly the best or most interesting role out of his career but it's nice watching him in this nevertheless. Peter Falk also does his very best but I wouldn't call it the best performance out of his career, which again, is mostly also due to the movie its dialog.

So really not the best Columbo movie around, although I also just wouldn't call this movie an horrible one.


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Dribbles past three defenders only for Wendt's performance to put the ball wide of an open goalmouth
bob the moo11 December 2005
Tired of his brother's gambling losses and influence on his life, Graham McVeigh sets it out so that younger Teddy will get in way over his head with bookie Bruno Romano. Graham kills Teddy on a deserted road and then arranges for Romano to come to his house to collect payment – only to kill him and call the police claiming self-defence. His plan is that the police will put the murder on Romano and just close the case. However some cigarette ash in Teddy's car is enough of a problem for Lieutenant Columbo to keep poking his nose in long after Graham had hoped it would all just go away. Meanwhile Romano's mobster boss informs Columbo that it must have been Graham that did the crime and that, either way, he must be punished.

With the last two or three of the new Columbo's I watched the producers (including Falk himself) seemed to be busily trying to do something different from the usual formula – with mixed results it must be said. So with this entry in the series I welcomed the return to the basic cat'n'mouse games that are played between Columbo and his prey while he gradually closes in on them. The film sets up the usual "perfect plan" and then moves ahead from there; it was almost a relief to me to see the formula back in place. The story is a nice one and in some ways the addition of the mobster adds a bit of spice to it but did change the character of Columbo a little bit – would he really just sit and listen to a man threaten murder and just eat soup? Anyway, the story unfolds reasonably well and it does just enough to work as a formula and, although the conclusion lacks logic it is still enjoyably delivered - it is just a shame that the usual strength of the films is a weakness here – namely the performances Well, not performances plural maybe but certainly performance. Wendt is far too boorish and lacking subtlety to convince – it is very much an one-note man and it doesn't lend itself well to the twists and turns within the story. It is a shame because so few of the new Columbo films produce a really good cat n'mouse story and this should have been a good one if not for his very basic turn. Falk is good although I don't think he or the material coped well with the moral complexity that came with technically working with a mobster. Kirby makes a welcome return in a small role that honours his long term connection to the series. Steiger is a nice addition despite my reservations and he certainly stands above a poor Yagher and a terrible "apples & pears, gov'ner" performance from a laughable Mayo-Chandler (influence within the industry one suspects).

Overall this was a welcome return to the formula after one too many duff Columbo's trying something new. The story is fine but it is just a shame that the usual tense chemistry is blown by a roundly poor turn from Wendt. A solid enough formula piece for fans but it is hard not to feel like it has managed to dribble past three defenders just to put the ball wide of an open goal.
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Those details again
bkoganbing14 May 2017
George Wendt who played beer swilling Norm Peterson on Cheers for years is our guest villain in this Columbo film. He is the owner with his brother of a thoroughbred horse breeding farm with big plans for the future. The problem is he's got a wastrel spendthrift brother in Jeff Yagher who owes some bookies really big bucks. Wendt's decided that the brother has to be eliminated as he can't carry his ever increasing debts.

But Wendt is not only a real slime ball he's a little bit crazy in his scheme. Not only does he kill the brother he kills Jay Acovone whom he lures to his house. Acovone is both a restaurant owner and a bookie and well connected to Mafia crime boss Rod Steiger who is a half owner in the place. You want to mess with those guys? He claims he killed Acovone as a matter of self defense.

I have to say that Wendt apparently had a well conceived plan, but those little details that Columbo spots are what does him in. Things that Wendt could not have foreseen just make Peter Falk zero in on him more and more.

Real Columbo fans could not miss the similarities between this story and one from the 70s where Hector Elizondo kills someone in the consulate of a Mideast kingdom. It was also a whole lot of little things that Falk suspect him, but he couldn't quite nail him. He uses the same gambit from that story to nail Wendt in this one.

You'll have to see the film to know what I am talking about.
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Columbo story enhanced by a great Mafia sub-plot
Leofwine_draca5 July 2016
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS is one of the more lively outings for the late-stage Columbo as it features a different kind of murder for the detective to get his (false) teeth into. While George Wendt's simplistic villain isn't one of the best the series has to offer, the sub-plot involving a disgruntled mob boss (played by the delightful Rod Steiger) more than makes up for the shortcomings elsewhere.

Wendt is a completely ruthless character, a horse breeder who bumps off his own brother in the early part of the story. A noticeably aged Columbo proceeds to investigate and gets involved with the usual minor clues involving ashes in an car ash tray and a mysterious phone call received by the victim just prior to his death.

At this point the Mafia sub-plot comes to light and things get more interesting, all leading to one of the finest and most intricate climaxes ever seen in a Columbo. The ending itself is enough to make the episode, it's that good. Watch out for RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD's Don Calfa in a minor role as a bartender, and Columbo series regular Bruno Kirby as a police sergeant.
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The Trap
AaronCapenBanner7 March 2016
George Wendt stars as Graham McVeigh, a ranch/horse owner who is fed up with bailing out his gambling brother Teddy(played by Jeff Yagher) who is also in debt with a mob-related man named Bruno Romano(played by Jay Acovone) so devises a scheme to murder both of them by first killing Teddy, then laying suspicion on Bruno before he lures him into a trap to kill him too, claiming self-defense. Lt. Columbo(Peter Falk) is investigating the crimes when he is approached by the mob leader Vincenzo Fortelli(played by Rod Steiger) who wants Graham to pay for what he did, but the two of them instead come up with a better plan to trap Graham... Slick, entertaining episode with Steiger and Falk a good match-up, and Wendt's character is so obtuse and unsympathetic that the potentially morally dubious alliance between them isn't an issue.
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Awful performances by Wendt and Yaeger
aromatic-223 June 2001
They went to the bottom of the alphabet to get two bottom-of-the-barrel performances. But Yaeger is merely ineffectual. Wendt is spectacularly bad. And the pity is that the interest the viewer could have in the episode lies entirely in how well he pulls off his murder scheme. His character is supposed to be the smart and responsible brother but he cannot get past the boorishness of Normie to give us anything. As a result, this is the worst Columbo movie I have ever seen.
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Despite an inconsistency, enjoyable
blanche-23 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"Strange Bedfellows" is a 1995 Columbo that guest-stars Rod Steiger, George Wendt, and Jeff Yagher.

Wendt and Yagher play brothers Graham and Teddy McVeigh who co-own a thoroughbred stable. Unfortunately, Teddy is a compulsive gambler and now owes something like $200,000 to the mob. Graham has held back his prize racehorse on several races to increase the odds, and agrees to let him finally win to pay off Teddy's debts. Well, that's what he says he's going to do. Knowing Teddy will just end up with another debt, Graham has other plans. Those plans include two murders.

What he doesn't count on is Columbo, who gets onto him almost immediately because of a couple of mistakes. But Columbo isn't Graham's major problem. His major problem is a capo (Rod Steiger) who knows he's responsible for the murder of one of his minions and wants him dead.

Rod Steiger is hilarious as the don, with the worst Italian accent in history, doubling every consonant. Also suddenly Columbo doesn't know any Italian - he did twenty years earlier in Murder Under Glass, and if there's one thing I loathe in any show, it's inconsistent character history.

The running thread throughout is Columbo's stomach problems, which add immensely to the show.

I happen to have interviewed both Steiger and Falk and adored both of them, so this was a special episode for me. Hard to be objective, but I disagree with the poor reviews. This is an excellent episode.
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I'm sorry they don't pay me enough for doing these things
kapelusznik1830 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
***MAJOR SPOILERS*** Let. Francis-Yes that's his first name- Columbo, Peter Falk, is forced to team up with big time Mafiso kingpin Don Vincenzo Fortelli, Rod Steiger,in getting Graham McViegh, George Wendt, to confess to two murders that he committed. One of his good for nothing younger brother Teddy, Jeff Yagher, and the other of mobbed up restaurateur Bruno Romano, Jay Acovone, to whom Teddy was in for, in gambling debts, a cool $200,000.00. Having had enough of bailing out his leach of a brother Teddy losses to mob bookies Graham sets him up in losing a horse race that he tipped off Fortelli was in the bag. That in reality , due to Graham doping up the horse, he lost after having bet $30,000.00 on the nag to win. A panic stricken, in knowing what Fortelli got in store for him, Teddy runs to his brother for help only to get shot and killed by him and making it look like it was one of Fortelli's goons, Bruno Romano, who murdered him.

To make things even better Graham later has Romano killed in tricking him into coming into his house to pick up the $200,000.00 that his brother Teddy owes him. The one thing that Graham didn't count on is that Let. Columbo was put on the case who despite his lame brain and clueless demeanor figured out that he was behind both murders. The only problem for Let. Columbo was to trick Graham into confession to his crimes and that's where Mafiso Don Vincenzo came in. Wanting Graham knocked off Mafia style for murdering his good friend Bruno Romano Fortelli is talked into by Let. Columbo in letting justice take its course.

***SPOILERS*** It doesn't take much to get a scared out of his wits Graham to confess to his crimes knowing that if the wheels of justice don't get him Vincenzo'a hit men will. Let. Columbo knowing that a confession on his part will convict Graham of the double murder that he committed he used Vincenzo as a back up in convincing him that if he ends up getting off a far worse fate would awaited him on the outside. Let. Columbo played it right knowing how the by now sweaty and fearing for his life Garham would react. But if Let. Columbo was wrong and Garham was killed because of his inaction he would have well been an accomplice in his murder!
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Acceptable latter day episode
Wizard-822 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The newer Columbo episodes are not consistent in quality, though fortunately this particular one is pretty entertaining. It's not a perfect episode. For starters, while it was established in the 1970s episodes that Columbo is fluent in Italian, in this episode it's illustrated that he doesn't know the language at all. Also, the way that Columbo manages to get the killer at the very end somewhat smells of entrapment, if not very elaborate and unbelievable. Fortunately, the merit in the episode manages to outweigh the shortcomings. Columbo may be older, but he's still sharp and at the top of his game, and his method of operation here is for the most part plausible. And while actor Rod Steiger at this stage of his career was best known for hammy performances, here he tones it down considerably and makes his mob boss character interesting. This is not a classic episode of the series, but it shows that even in 1995 there was still life in our favorite television detective.
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Old-Timers Day
stones7815 March 2017
The most notable aspect for me was the familiar faces in this episode, which include fine performances by both George Wendt and Rod Steiger, and watch for regulars John Finnegan, and the final appearance of Bruce Kirby. Wendt is the real star here, as he's just a few years removed from a memorable run on "Cheers", and he's very convincing in a murderous role here. Steiger is also in fine form as a mob boss, as he warns Columbo that he'll give him time to arrest Graham(Wendt), but if that fails, then he'll take care of matters himself and that won't be pretty. Without giving too much away, this ending plot borrows heavily from "A Case of Immunity", which is a fine episode from 1975, and I could see this conclusion coming a mile away, especially them giving the same "thumbs-up" gestures, so that drops this episode down a few pegs. As someone else said, this isn't the best Columbo film in the stable(pun intended), but it's passable, and instead of Wendt raising a glass of beer, this time he's raising a gun.
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Wendt and Steiger are great, but the finale... what the hell?
punishmentpark19 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Even though George 'Norm' Wendt seems to have only one facial expression, he is always fun to watch somehow. Of course, he is legendary for playing the barfly postman in 'Cheers', but in the horror films 'King of the ants' (2003) and 'Family' (2006) he did a real nice job as well. Here, he does so, too. It's a lot of fun watching how he plays a calculating, down to earth villain who slowly loses control of his 'perfect' plan.

Rod Steiger as the big crime boss was impressive, too, and Columbo opposes both actors with plenty of verve, even if it seemed a little far fetched that he would immediately eye Graham McVeigh (Wendt) as if he knew he did it without any proof or indication of guilt at that time. I guess that's part of the show.

What usually is nót part of the show, is that Frank teams up with the mafia (he will do it again in a later episode as well) to catch his guy. This does not make him any more sympathetic, at all. It is actually something that really stings. This crime boss initially says he wants justice, but later on just wants a load of money back. Truly reprehensible, in spite of Frank's refusal to have drinks with the guy in the end. I don't really understand how they came up with this sort of writing, or what purpose they thought it would serve.

A rather big blemish on an otherwise pretty good episode (the plot is just fine otherwise), so I don't want to go any higher than 6 out of 10.

P.s.: it is a little strange that Frank claims he does not speak Italian, when he clearly did perfectly in several episode before this. Maybe he was trying to fool the crime boss? But if so, to what avail?
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MovieAddict20162 February 2004
Fun, but average, "Columbo" TV sequel having the notorious Lieutenant returning to the screen tracing down a man (George Wendt) who kills someone (big surprise!).

I saw it on TV. Not bad, not great, somewhere around the "good" area. Worth watching if you've got nothing better to do. Columbo IS getting a bit old, but then again...it has been since the first film.
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