Season 7 Episode 4

How to Dial a Murder

Aired Unknown Apr 15, 1978 on NBC



  • Trivia

    • Columbo secretly tapes his conversation with Dr. Mason, hoping to pick up the "kill" command. The conversation leads to the movie Citizen Kane and Dr. Mason, with relish, pronounces Kane's dying word, "Rosebud". At the end of the episode, when Columbo plays the tape for Mason, his pronunciation of the word "Rosebud" is distinctly different.

    • Although Dr. Mason's gate is said to be the original gate from the movie Citizen Kane, with the exception of the "K", it only vaguely resembles it. If you watch the movie Citizen Kane, you will notice that the real gate is much heavier wrought iron, and exceedingly more ornate.

  • Quotes

    • Eric Mason: You're a fascinating man, Lieutenant.

      Columbo: To a psychologist, sir?

      Mason: You pass yourself off as a puppy in a raincoat happily running around the yard digging holes all up in the garden, only you're laying a mine field and wagging your tail.

    • Mason: Very good, Lieutenant. Remarkable, really. You take control very well, all the way. I'd swear you'd taken my course.

      Columbo: Oh no, sir. Oh no, never. It's just that I enjoy the pleasure of the game.

    • Columbo: Very simple case. Not that I'm particularly bright, sir. I must say I found you disappointing, I mean your incompetence. You left enough clues to sink a ship.

    • Columbo: Oh, you killed him with a phone call, sir. I'll bet my life on it.

    • Mason: Really, you have a morbid streak, Lieutenant. I should have suspected that.

    • Columbo: Thank you very much, sir. I'll explain to Mrs. Columbo how my condition is work dominated.
      Mason: Well, I think she might have guessed.

  • Notes

    • This episode was originally titled "The Laurel and Hardy W.C. Fields Citizen Kane Murder Case", which would have beaten out "The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case" for longest title.

    • According to Mark Dawidziak, author of The Columbo Phile, playing a guest murderer on Columbo was usually a cherished memory for an actor. Nicol Williamson was the exception. Even after being reminded of the plot details, he had no real recollection of the show. He was getting divorced at the time, needed money, and the role was just another job.

    • 70 minutes long

    • In 2004 the cable channel Bravo made a commercial composed of "Columbo" clips to promote the shows addition to its schedule, including a clip of Columbo saying "Word" from this episode, twisting it to mean the current slang for 'truth'.

    • According to the tvtome bio on Kim Catrall, she made her screen debut in Rosebud (1975) by Otto Preminger, which, ironically is the key phrase in this episode

    • 90 minutes long.

  • Allusions