One half of a murder-mystery writing team kills his more talented partner after the latter announces his intentions to go solo which would ultimately leave the former in financial ruin. Later a grocery store owner, who has important information pertaining to the case and has romantic desires for the killer, sees this incident as an opportunity to blackmail him into having a relationship with her. Feeling cornered, he kills her and tries to make it look like she'd fallen off a boat and drowned in a drunken stupor.
Although Billy Goldenberg scored the opening Columbo stories in 1971, his commercially released "Columbo Theme" recorded as such by Norrie Paramor and His Orchestra (Law Beat album, Contour Records 2870 369) did not become a regular feature of the show. The theme is first heard during the helicopter sequence of pilot "Ransom for a Dead Man" but Goldenberg did not use it as a title theme and composed mainly fresh music for "Murder by the Book" and all his subsequent scores. The Columbo show never had any recognizable theme tune of its own. See more »
After "Ken" has dumped the two champagne bottles in the lake, Jack Cassidy looks directly toward the camera for a split second, and then he looks away and starts rocking the row boat. See more »
[Jim works in his office]
[knock on the door]
Who is it?
[another knock on the door]
[He opens the door - Ken is aiming a gun at his face. Jim laughs]
Oh, you're not intimidated.
Oh, come on, Ken. You're forgetting that I'm one-half of the world's greatest mystery-writing team? You, ah, don't have gloves on, your finger's not on the trigger, and there are no bullets in the cylinder.
You're right. I'm a lousy practical joker.
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Showed promise at an early stage - especially for the director.
Originally, this TV movie was only a curiosity to me. I purchased the video and found myself captivated to the brilliant plot written for TV by the then unknown Steven Bochco.
Even though the story does not stand to too much examining, as you know from the start who the murderer is and, because it IS an episode of "Columbo", you also know who will win in the end, it still is a very enjoyable movie with a stunning cast.
Early in his career, you can still tell who is directing just by the sheer artistry of the camera angles and placement of actors and props. Steven Spielberg's fingerprints are all over this movie, using techniques that he still uses today in his most recent movies.
I recommend that you watch it, just out of curiosity.
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