Season 3 Episode 5

Publish or Perish

Aired Unknown Jan 18, 1974 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (2)

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  • Jack Cassidy is back for Round 2

    The late, great Jack Cassidy is my favorite "Columbo" villain, and he does not disappoint in his second of three appearances. Here, he is dastardly publisher Riley Greenleaf, who is desperate to prevent his star author (played by "Mike Hammer" scribe Mickey Spillane in a nice bit of casting!) from defecting to another firm.

    We are guessing from the opening moments, when we find Greenleaf at a junkyard watching an obviously disturbed man demonstrating his homemade bombs. Where is the story going from here? How does Cassidy's drunken behavior at a nightclub play into the plot? Writer Peter S. Fischer went on to run "Murder, She Wrote" for several years, and with the 90 minute episode canvas to play with, he creates an elaborate mystery that ranks among the best of the original "Columbo" episodes.

    Cassidy is the ideal "Columbo" killer with his arrogance and suave menace. He would truly pull out all the stops for "Now You See Him" in Season 5, but he delivers another ace performance here. Actors like Cassidy, Robert Culp and Patrick McGoohan who had great chemistry with Peter Falk are a delight to watch in their multiple appearances on the show.
  • Spoilers

    The superfices of Peter S. Fischer's script are impeccable. It develops that a publisher (Jack Cassidy), whose titles include My Home Was A House and Modern Aztec Courtship Practices, is about to lose his "pocket-sized Hemingway" (Mickey Spillane) to a rival (Jacques Aubuchon). Cassidy has taken out a standard million-dollar life insurance policy on his author, and plans to kill him. A rather frayed demolitions expert (John Davis Chandler) will do the job in exchange for a publishing contract (his book is titled How To Blow Up Anything In Ten Easy Lessons).

    The essence of the plot is Cassidy's careful incrimination of himself and simultaneous provision of an alibi. Butler films the murder with the screen split twice and then thrice so Cassidy, Spillane and Chandler are all seen at once.

    The dialogue is pristine. At Aubuchon's party announcing the signing of Spillane, the former looks up from a conversation and says, "Did somebody arrive? I invited Norman Mailer." Cassidy, drinking and belligerent, opines that "sex is our only mystery in our age of new illiterates." Drunk, and getting himself thrown out of a bar in the San Fernando Valley while the murder is taking place downtown, he hands the bartender money and says, "Here, buy yourself a personality." Furthermore, "You, and this place, DESERVE to be in the Valley."