"Oh, there's just one more thing."

Detective Lt. Columbo

Columbo: Murder by the Book


A mystery writer plans "the perfect crime" with his ex-partner as the target in Murder by the Book, starring Peter Falk as the surprisingly redoubtable Detective Lt. Columbo. Jack Cassidy, Martin Milner and Rosemary Forsyth guest-starred on this, the first episode of the ongoing Columbo series that was part of The NBC Mystery Movie omnibus when it premiered on September 15, 1971. The feature-length episode was directed by a 24-year-old Steven Spielberg, then in his second full-year of directing television under contract for Universal.

Joanna Ferris (Forsyth), while talking with her husband James (Milner) on the phone hears the shot that kills him. Assuming her husband was in his office at the time, she unwittingly sets up a perfect alibi for the killer, Ken Franklin (a delightfully unctuous and conniving Cassidy), a mystery author and her husband's writing ex-partner.

Miss La Sanka (Barbara Colby), who runs a grocery store at the lake resort where the crime was actually committed, is the only person who knows that the murder victim was in the area. She uses this knowledge in attempt to blackmail the duplicitous Franklin.

The sloppily attired Detective Lt. Columbo appears on the scene, naturally feigning to know less than he comes to learn as the clever killer feeds him clues which point to the true nature of the crime.

Murder by the Book was produced by Columbo creators Richard Levinson and William Link, with Spielberg directing from a script by Steven Bochco. Billy Goldenberg (Duel) composed a unique score for the film which included the sounds of a typewriter for percussion, befitting this tale of mystery and murder between two writers.

Columbo "inspired by" poster art by Tony Stella. Used with permission.

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