Season 3 Episode 8

A Friend in Deed

Aired Unknown May 05, 1974 on NBC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

A Friend in Deed
A police commissioner provides an alibi to a friend who has just killed his wife. Later the commissioner kills his own wife, and gets the friend to repay the favor.

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  • Spoilers

    The script by Peter S. Fischer is a marvel of economy and speed. Gazzara profits from this gratefully with superb direction.

    His exemplary technique figures a three-pointed resolution to basic problems. First, and overwhelmingly, he puts his experience as an actor to work in close-ups that allow each actor to convey with novelistic expressiveness what's going on in each shot. Second, he has a stage actor's understanding of stage layout in group scenes. Third, he understands the value of composition in creating the first two.

    Every shot is telling, but the overall style is equally tight. A long shot with a long lens gives compression, the camera follows unusually intimate and refined close-ups like an MGM dance camera, in constant minute adjustments.

    He pays exceptional attention to a naturalistic lighting, which is created by emphasizing variety rather than realism or a stylistic approach. Lamplight, shadow and reflected light make a color chiaroscuro, established by toning down the NBC lighting system from high summer to something more equable.

    A police commissioner covers up a murder, to force a reciprocation whose victim is his wealthy, philanthropic, "bleeding heart" wife. This is a pure example of Lt. Columbo discerning the culprit almost at once (the mind constructs, the heart detects), and gradually working out the solution, which hinges on a framed cat burglar.

    The double murder quid pro quo suggests the main theme (as well as Strangers On A Train), which is diffused over the three married couples: the cheating wife and her jealous husband, the liberal heiress and the police commissioner, the cat burglar and his demanding mistress.

Peter Falk

Peter Falk

Lieutenant Columbo (no first name)

Michael McGuire

Michael McGuire

Hugh Caldwell

Guest Star

Val Avery

Val Avery

Artie Jessup

Guest Star

Rosemary Murphy

Rosemary Murphy

Margaret Halperin

Guest Star

John Finnegan

John Finnegan

Lt. Dryer

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Although the end credits tell us that actor Byron Morrow plays "Amos Lawrence", he is addressed on-screen as "Byron" by the Richard Kiley character. Also, although John Finnegan plays Lt. Duffy of the Robbery Division, and the character is referred to by this name several times, the end credits refer to him as "Lt. Dreyer."

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Columbo: Commissioner Halperin says he found those jewels under your mattress.

      Artie Jessup: That's crazy.

      Halperin: You're a liar!

      Artie Jessup: Hey, I don't even live here!

      Halperin: What?!?

      Columbo: I can verify that, sir. He doesn't live here. I live here.

    • Columbo: Commissioner, I believe you killed your wife. And I believe you either killed Janice Caldwell or you're covering up for it.

      Halperin: You just lost your badge, my friend.

    • Columbo: You must have a lot of those, sir.

      Halperin: What?

      Columbo: Gut feelings.

      Halperin: What are you talking about?

      Columbo: Well, you had a gut feeling last night.

      Halperin: I don't know what you're talking about. What do you mean, last night?

      Columbo: When you asked for me to report to the Caldwell house.

      Halperin: Yes.

      Columbo: I found out you asked for me when you first called in.

      Halperin: I did.

      Columbo: What I mean, sir, is that the burglar had never harmed anybody before. Yet from your bedroom window when you called in, you asked for me. I was just trying to figure out how you knew the woman was already dead.

  • NOTES (2)

    • Scenes are very rarely shot in chronological sequence. Richard Kiley was shooting the scene where he leaps into the swimming pool and drags his wife out. As he was frantically performing mouth-to-mouth resucitation, he suddenly realized something. While the cameras still rolled, he looked down and said, "How do you do, Rosemary? We've never met before. I'm Richard Kiley."

    • 94 minutes long.