Season 3 Episode 7

Swan Song

Aired Unknown Mar 03, 1974 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
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Episode Summary

Swan Song
After years of being controlled and blackmailed by his wife a Country and Western singer kills her and tries to make it look like it was really meant to be him killed and not her.

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  • Columbo vs. The Man in Black

    Johnny Cash is great as the conniving country singer who offs his wife. His back-and-forth with Falk is memorable (who else would call Columbo "little buddy?") and the final scene is one of the best in the series. "Any man who sings like that can't be all bad." Peter Falk has great moments...his nervousness in the police plane and his exasperation with the seamstress stand out.
  • Spoilers

    No less, I think, than four Perry Mason cases are fictionalized for the murder, which has a lecherous gospel singer (Johnny Cash) drug his blackmailing evangelist partner (Ida Lupino) and jump out of their private plane with a parachute of his own devising.

    The depth of the casting is most remarkable, even for Columbo, which sometimes anchors an effect by seeming to overcast for the part. John Dehner as Pangborn, the air crash investigator, stands like a mountain while clouds of delicate comedy rain about his summit. An Air Force colonel who remembers the singer as a washed-out cadet (but from which war?) is paraded by John Randolph. Vito Scotti mounts an impressive display as the funeral home proprietor (this scene is filmed at the same location which served as the magic cabaret in "Now You See Him"). Sorrell Booke as the singer's manager is all rosy round shades and bow tie.

    The director's name is rearranged to form the name of an arranger, Solacanto, which Lt. Columbo interprets as Sillacante.

    It often happens that the Lieutenant will discern the culprit at once and devote himself to an elaborate unmasking, but in this case he has only a scent of a whiff to warn him, and his "routine questions" for once serve him in that capacity.

    The actual trap shows the extraordinary skill deployed, after the manner of Wong and Poirot, by the man from Homicide.

Peter Falk

Peter Falk

Lieutenant Columbo (no first name)

Sorrell Booke

Sorrell Booke

J.J. Stinger

Guest Star

Bill McKinney

Bill McKinney

Luke Basket

Guest Star

John Dehner

John Dehner

Roland Pangborn

Guest Star

Vito Scotti

Vito Scotti

Mr. Grindell

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (10)

    • Brown: You knew I was coming up here?

      Columbo: I knew. Then I didn't know. And then I knew.

    • Brown: Now why would anybody want to kill me?

      Columbo: Mr. Brown, I don't know. But you are a celebrity and there are a lot of crackpots in the world and there's just no accounting for people's reactions. I mean sometimes I even wonder about my wife. Not that she's a crackpot.

    • Columbo: I noticed that the arrangement was changed.

      Brown: You got a good ear for music.

      Columbo: Well, you know I'm Italian.

    • Pangborn: Well, still be awful lot of mountain to search for anything hidden or buried, a lot of mountain. Who could find it?

      Columbo: The guy who hid it.

    • Columbo: Where did you first learn how to fly?

      Brown: Lieutenant, I thought you knew my whole life history by now.

      Columbo: Oh no, no. Uh, you know, people think we got all kinds of records on microfilms, all we gotta do is push a button and, uh...

      Brown: Well, doncha ya?

      Columbo: (pause) Yes, we do. But not everything.

    • Tommy Brown: And I guess this, all this looks kinda bad, huh? This big house and this party goin' on and everything?
      Columbo: No sir, no sir. It's kinda refreshing. You see, in my line of work, homicide, somebody is always, well, dead. That's the only way to put it. I mean they don't even call us in unless that's what it is, somebody dead. So naturally I see a lot of grief.

    • Columbo: Say, that's delicious. I never tasted chili like that before.
      Luke Basket: That's a special recipe made out of squirrel meat. That's good, isn't it?
      Columbo: Um, yeah. That explains it.

    • (While inspecting the plane wreckage)
      Roland Pangborn: You know something, Lieutenant? I could use a man like you on my team. It's really nothing but detective work.
      Columbo: Oh no, thank you very much. You fellas, you have to fly.
      Pangborn: Sure. We're all pilots.
      Columbo: Oh no, not for me, thank you very much. I wouldn't qualify for that.
      Pangborn: Why? We'd teach you.
      Columbo: I appreciate it, sir. But, uh, my ears pop in an elevator. As a matter of fact, I don't even like being this tall.

    • Tommy Brown: You're a sanctimonious hypocrite of a Bible-spouting blackmailer and I've given you your last chance to be fair!

    • Edna Brown: May God forgive me for letting a devil help me build a temple.
      Tommy Brown: And what if your devil quits. What are you gonna do?

  • NOTES (2)

    • 94 minutes long.

    • Actor Vito Scotti appears _six_ times in Columbo series: ep. 19 "Any Old Port in a Storm" (Maitre d'), ep. 20 "Candidate for Crime" (Mr. Chadwick, a taylor), ep. 24 "Swan Song" (Mr. Grindell); ep. 27 "Negative Reaction" (Thomas Dolan, a drunk), ep. 34 "Identity Crisis" (Salvatore Defonte), and ep. 50 "Murder, a Self Portrait" (Vito).