25-year-old Steven Spielberg directed the first non-pilot episode of Columbo (free on YouTube https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aWY1-ukV2M4 …), “Murder by the Book,” in 1971 for NBC. The young prodigy even impressed Peter Falk, the show’s star, who told the producers, “This guy is too good for Columbo.”
2. Created by William Link and Richard Levinson, Columbo broke away from the traditional murder/mystery whodunit formula by revealing the identity of the killer (usually an affluent member of society) and the method of murder in the first few minutes of each episode.
3. These affluent members of society try to carefully cover their tracks, but they underestimate Columbo’s brilliance, masked by his rumpled raincoat (which Falk supplied) and apparent ineptitude. Celebrities like Johnny Cash lined up to play the killer.
4. Peter Falk named “Any Old Port in a Storm” (in which Donald Pleasence OBE plays the killer, a finicky winemaker) as his personal favorite episode (available for free on YouTube). https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WB9-HTWwoxo …
5. From the 1970s run of Columbo, this is one of my favorites: the tiny Ruth Gordon (at age 81), playing a successful murder mystery writer, who bumps off (after luring him in a walk-in safe) a fresh-faced young man that she believes has killed her niece. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iRgqqywphzw …
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