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Season 5 Episode 4

A Matter of Honor

Aired Unknown Feb 01, 1976 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
41 votes

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Episode Summary

A Matter of Honor
The owner of a bull ranch in Mexico gives his workers the day off, and then talks his number one man into fighting the bull who nearly killed his son. But instead he shoots him with a tranquilizer gun, and lets the bull kill him. Colombo, who is on vacation in Mexico, gets dragged into this case by an admiring colleague, but he has trouble convincing the Mexicans that the accident is really homicide. And how do you prove that the bull is a murder weapon?moreless

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  • Spoilers

    A guide to El Ángel Exterminador for the perplexed. Post has a flawless bit of comedy with the Peugeot inflicting whiplash south of the border and confiscated for want of local insurance.

    He develops a rapid technique based on a fluid tension of the close-up and the medium shot. When the murderer is confronted, more or less openly, Post amplifies the situation with a zoom, more or less directly.

    There is peculiar interest in the modus operandi. A famous matador, now retired to the breeding of bulls, reveals himself immobilized in fear when faced with one by happenstance. He kills a witness by first drugging him just enough to render him inchoate but not motionless, so as to incite a bull helplessly. Yet the motive is withheld entirely from view, except for exchanged glances and a dubious air, until Lt. Columbo deduces it at length.

    Sublimity is in the characterization of Lt. Columbo as nearly inarticulate off his own bat, but a regular Holmes on the scent. It's a question of gathered evidence contradicting a first-person account and customary practice in the bullring—about which the Lieutenant knows "not very much"—and also a weather report.

    "Even the bulls know me," says Emilio Fernandez, gesturing toward them in the abstract. Even the local police know Lt. Columbo, because of his single-handed success with the cruise ship murder en route to Mexico in "Troubled Waters". He briefly recounts the escapade, beginning with "my wife won the tickets," and trailing off from there standing next to his Peugeot on a tow hook, until he's pressed into service on a hacienda murder "to expedite matters," with Mrs. Columbo all the time "back at the hotel," waiting for him.moreless
Robert Carricart

Robert Carricart

Hector Rangel

Guest Star

A Martinez

A Martinez

Curro Rangel

Guest Star

Maria Grimm

Maria Grimm

Nina Montoya

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • The bull that kills Hector is named Marinero, which means "Sailor" in Spanish.

    • The film clips Montoya watches of himself as a young man in the bull ring are taken from a film Ricardo Montalban made in Mexico in 1944 called La Hora de la Verdad (The Hour of Truth).

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Comandante Sanchez: I see you're a thorough man, Lieutenant, but the bull did kill Rangel.

      Columbo: Yes, I can see that but it's important to be thorough, especially when a man dies alone.

    • Sanchez: I hope you understand, Luis, that the Lieutenant is here as my guest. He has no official status.

      Luis Montoya: So inquisitive. I find him amusing.

    • Columbo: That shows you I don't know much about bullfighting.

      Ranch Foreman: Is that all, señor?

      Columbo: You know, I think my wife was right. There's something wrong with me. I'm supposed to be on vacation and right away I'm thinking like a cop. That's called, uh, occupational hazard.

      Foreman: Occupational hazard, what is that?

      Columbo: That's, uh, when wherever you go you take your work with you.

      Foreman: Oh, I see. We call that loco.

  • NOTES (3)