Patrick McGoohan's performance is magnificent as the picture of dignity and discipline in Colonel Rumford. This episode had many of the earmarks of a classic Columbo episode: great interaction between Columbo and the killer born of a grudgingly built mutual respect, a completely reprehensible victim, self-deprecating humor ("I suppose that's a uniform too" or when they try to have Columbo removed initially from the crime scene), and a finely constructed string of clues that ultimately cause the murderer to be hopelessly snared by a preonderance of evidence when all signs seem to point to an accident or another suspect. There are many memorable scenes in the great outdoor setting of the Citadel, a military school in South Carolina: * the preparation of the murder weapon and the execution of the plan * the chapel scene following the disaster
* Columbo's ill-fated supper after struggling to find the mess hall * Cadet Springer scrubbing the courtyard tiles with a toothbrush while the Colonel assures him he will support him despite an impending charge of murder
* the wonderful moment when the Colonel offers Columbo one of his cigars ("I allow myself just one a day") * the incredible finale when Columbo enlists the Cadets help and the Colonel admits, "You've really done a very good job."
There are so many moments in this episode when McGoohan says so much just by not responding to one of Columbo's persistent inquiries. I loved at the end when he admitted that he should have acknowledged the rag the first time he saw it, as his reaction and Springer's were very different to such a vital piece of evidence.
Another fine Columbo episode, as the detective investigates a murder at a military academy. Patrick McGoohan plays Col. Rumford, the academy commander, in one of his best Columbo performances. He is always good at roles like this one, playing characters who are extremely controlled and keep their inner lives veiled. His use of psychology to lure his victim to his death and to set up an obnoxious cadet to take the fall is beautifully matched by Columbo's parallel study of psychology as he starts to unravel the plot. The conclusion of the mystery is particularly satisfying, as it depends not upon tricking an admission from the murderer, but from linking together his own statements and trapping him in his own words. McGoohan is great in the last scene, accepting his defeat without flinching.
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