My big problem with this episode is that, despite some great acting and an interesting crime, Columbo doesn't really solve the case. Yes, he knows who did it, but there is no real evidence, no proof, and he never discovered a motive. The case would never hold up in front of a jury. Just because the air conditioning was turned off in the wine cellar, there is no proof that the body was in there, nor that Adrian had any connection whatsoever to the murder. Heck, Columbo never really even substantiated that it definitely was murder. Very disappointing ending to an engaging plot.
I've seen this episode a number of times and I'm always engaged with the characters.
Firstly, you've got Lieutenant Columbo at his best. He even learns wine minutiae to help his understanding of the subject to get his man.
Then you have Donald Pleasance, who gives an amazing acting performance as a self-obsessed and a truly king of snobbery British villain.
An added treat was the calculating performance of Julie Harris, who really exerts her cunning female talents in the pursuit her man.
For me, the story was a cracker. A wine obsessive heading a company barely breaking even thanks to the squandering of its co-owner, is about to lose all he loves when his playboy and hated brother in the business decides to sell the business to a poor quality rival, who will surely destroy his world. So in the heat of the dispute, he hits his brother and leaves him to die in a wine cellar.
Yes there were a couple of minor plot hole (would a dark cellar built into the middle of a building really overheat to 150f due to a hot day outside? And why turn off the air conditioner anyway, the room would have stunk to high heaven) and a small number of continuity goofs, but in the history of this wonderful series, for me it was one of the best.
I liked Pleasence in this.I would have liked this episode more if it wasn't for the ending. Columbo gave the murderer some wine at the end. I thought it was really tasteless of Columbo to do that! Columbo obviously admired the murdering wineguy. I can't see a reason for him to do that. Maybe because he was a highstatus person or because they were both italians. It wouldn't surprise me if Columbo after the ending "fixed it" so the wineguy could get away with his crime. I lost some respect for Columbo after that. Admire a murderer. That's why I gave it only a "1".
I liked this episode but what struck me as odd was the fact that the killer was possibly one of the most vile killers Columbo has faced, yet Colombo appeared to have no hatred for him and even gave him a present, some wine, at the end of the episode. Think about it, the killer left his brother for dead and he cooked in the heat of the wine cellar when the air conditioning broke down and had to starve to death at the same time. Maybe you could think that the killer thought his brother was already dead and didn't know that he'd suffer but still, the brother died a nasty death. Or maybe Columbo didn't think much of the killer's playboy brother and thought he got what he deserved?
Pleasence and Falk form a great chemistry the way they start to trifle around about making wine. At this point the viewer is treated to some of Columbo's best idiosyncratic traits that has made his character so famous. I was hoping that Pleasence and Falk would team up again for a second Columbo but my hopes came to an end when Mr.Pleasence passed away in 1995.
The story is set around a priggish and arrogant wine-maker and his attempts to cover up his brother's murder.
Peter Falk is brilliant as usual - his character is at his most annoying in this episode.
A very slow-moving episode -- it's nearly an hour before Columbo and the murderer actually meet! Peter Falk is always a delight to watch, of course, but even he can't make up for a story that's spread incredibly thin. As for Pleasance, he telephones in his performance, which is a disorienting mix of phlegmatic, ruthless killer and borderline neurotic, switching abruptly from one to the other as and when the half-hearted script demands. All in all, an indifferent episode. But it needn't have been this way -- the whole Columbo-as-oenophile idea could surely have, er, borne fruit, for instance, but it seems that the writers just couldn't squeeze enough juice out of it. Shame.
How can you not love an episode with Donald Pleasence as the villian? Also, the guy who played Nazorine the Baker from The Godfather is back again. The interplay between Columbo and Pleasence is classic. Another great ending with Columbo showing respect for his enemy with a little salute sequence. Toasts him with some wine. Classic scene when Pleasence goes beserk in resturant over some bad wine. Also flips out and brains a guy in his office while trembling and spittle flying everywhere. Guy gives off a crazy insane vibe. Great actor. Columbo shows off his genius in this one. Thank you very much.
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