Columbo

Season 1 Episode 3

Murder by the Book

3
Aired Unknown Sep 15, 1971 on NBC
SUBMIT REVIEW

Episode Fan Reviews (4)

8.9
out of 10
Average
84 votes
  • (spoilers) Noteworthy is the early directorial contribution of 24 year old Steven Spielberg.

    9.5
    The initial murder set-up is fantastic and Cassidy's performance facilitates an arguable accolade that he was the best Columbo murderer in the series.

    Peter Falk is wonderfully understated in his role as Columbo and the character's inherent traits and oddities, which are underlined by a seeming slowness and absent-mindedness, contrast particularly well with Cassidy's character's extreme smugness: one of their early scenes together where Ken Franklin fabricates a motive for the killing through Jim Ferris's non-existent expo-see of identifying hit-men operating in the underworld exemplifies this very well. Franklin hints to Columbo this potential motive and Columbo (purposely or ignorantly) fails to latch on, forcing Franklin to express his disappointment in a markedly patronising manner and compare him unfavourably with the detective in the books, Mrs. Melville.

    Also, noteworthy is the early directorial contribution of 24 year old Steven Spielberg. Notwithstanding, some elementary inclusions of cameras shadowing the actors and actresses, he adds some stylish and elaborate touches to uphold the general professionalism of the episode. One particularly stark image is of Jim Feriss's dead body lying on the settee, almost dark in the foreground, as Ken Franklin raises a glass to him in the background after he finishes answering a phone call to Ferris's distraught wife. I have no doubt that working to a restrictive 10-14 day schedule, Spieberg's efforts should not be underestimated.
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