Columbo: Death Lends a Hand - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Columbo: Death Lends a Hand Reviews

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Super Reviewer
August 6, 2013
A smart and well-crafted murder mystery, Death Lends a Hand delivers an impressive thriller. The head of a security company kills the wife of a media tycoon after his attempt to blackmail her fails, and it's up to Lt. Columbo to solve the case. The writing's especially good, particularly the storytelling and character development. Robert Culp makes his first appearance in the series, and gives a terrific performance. And, Columbo's notorious POS car, the Peugeot 403 convertible, makes its debut. Death Lends a Hand is an engaging crime drama that's full of intrigue.
½ February 23, 2012
With Robert Culp and Ray Milland 1968 the first Columbo eposode
December 4, 2011
The Columbo series hits its stride with this cracking crime thriller featuring the first (and maybe best) of several performances from the great Robert Culp as the shabby sleuth's sinister suspect.
August 11, 2011
Another Classic Ep, Guest Staring Robert Culp & Ray Milland
½ July 6, 2011
Another solid Columbo which features the suspect played very well by Robert Culp. He is a P.I. that is actually working the murder case with Columbo which makes for some very enteraining scenes between the two. The great Ray Milland plays the victim's husband. Aside from some questions with how this one ties up at the end there is nothing here not to like.
June 25, 2011
Just One More Thing . . . .

Alas, I cannot write a review of the episode with Dick Van Dyke or the episode with Johnny Cash. Sal Mineo, even. Or what is allegedly the only episode with Ricardo Montalban, even though literally everyone I've talked to about it remembers his being in at least four. Though at least I do remember the episode that exists, at least, the one where he is a famous matador who kills a man with a bull. Like you do, if you're a famous matador trying to kill someone. John Cassavetes, though I don't like him, I could review. But for all that, the great thing about the show was that you never ran the risk of knowing that the famous person, the one you recognized most easily, was the murderer and spending the rest of the episode bored. Because they showed you that at the beginning of the episode. Yes, okay, it was always the most famous person on the episode, but the point was to watch how Columbo unraveled it.

This, however, was an early enough episode that you might still be surprised. At that, Ray Milland, appearing here as Arthur Kennicut is probably more famous than Robert Culp, who in this plays Investigator Brimmer. Kennicut has hired Brimmer to find out if Lenore Kennicut (Pat Crowley), his wife who is young enough to be his daughter, is having an affair. Brimmer assures Kennicut that Lenore is not, and Kennicut goes away happy. However, Brimmer has lied to Kennicut and plans to blackmail Lenore into providing him with information. She refuses, and he loses his temper and kills her. He then dumps her body in the hopes that it will look like a mugging gone bad or something. It is to his great misfortune that the man called in to investigate the crime is Lieutenant Columbo, homicide. Columbo is a battered man in a battered car who looks and acts like a buffoon. Brimmer thinks that Columbo will be easy to distract, but of course he's wrong.

Say this much about the character--he certainly isn't too glamorous to be a Los Angeles Police Department detective. At the time he was cast in the series, he was already over forty. (He just died the other day at the age of 83, which is why we're looking at this now.) He had an honest-to-Gods glass eye, which probably would have kept him out of the LAPD. (I'm surprised he was able to drive.) In fact, most of the time, the suspects are fairly high in social circles Columbo could not hope to reach as a mere detective in the police department. In fact, here, it's why Brimmer thinks he can bribe Columbo by offering him a job at his detective agency--at probably three times the pay. And of course, Columbo is unfailingly polite. He routinely calls suspects "sir," "ma'am," or "miss." He wears that Gods-awful coat--which may end up in the Smithsonian after all, now that Falk is dead and doesn't have need of his upstairs closet anymore. He has the car, and he has the dog, and he has the cigars. He's a polite but disreputable-looking fellow.

One of the great delights of the Columbo character (the closest he ever gets to a first name is that, if you freeze-frame on one shot of his ID in the Ricardo Montalban episode, it's signed "Frank Columbo") is his quiet persistence. He's never quite belligerent. He's certainly never rude. However, he gets his questions answered. At first, the suspects fail to take him seriously. In this case, it is established that the police commissioner speaks highly of him, and yet someone who knows that still assumes the lieutenant is a fool. As time goes by, he becomes a nuisance, and only at the end do they begin to worry that he might be able to work out what happened. And he always works out what happened. He says, in the bullfighting one, that he's been wrong before, and he has in most episodes. However, his instincts are good and his deductive reasoning is better. He follows the trail where it leads, even if he has to follow the same bit of it over and over.

There is a running joke that Jessica Fletcher of [i]Murder, She Wrote[/i] is a serial killer. This is because the show ran 264 episodes, and Jessica Fletcher kept tripping over bodies wherever she went. The murder rate in Cabot Cove, Maine, must have been the highest in the country. However, Columbo was a detective in Los Angeles. It is not unreasonable that he would be around murders. Unfortunately, it's the only way to make a long-running detective series at all probable. You have to give the detective a reason to keep running across all those bodies, and the only people who have that happen to them are police officers. In [i]A Is for Alibi[/i], Kinsey Millhone herself informs us that most of her job as a private detective is grunt work that isn't worth hearing about. And, yes, there are a couple of episodes where Columbo is in some way out of town and ends up involved in a murder mystery. However, most of the time, he's just doing his job. And he tells us so.
Super Reviewer
½ January 21, 2011
Coldly efficient private investigator Robert Culp accidentally kills the wife of a newspaper magnate and although his suspicions are raised, Columbo has no evidence to back up his outlandish theory. One of the earliest entries in the Columbo case files, Death Lends A Hand is the first in which the affable detective nearly meets his match. There is a grudging respect between the two adversaries that gives it a markedly different dynamic from the usual cat and mouse games and it's interesting to see the different sides of Falk's character; he deliberately acts the buffoon to slyly gather the facts and we get to see the way he switches tactics when interviewing the varying personalities involved in the case. The direction is solid with some nice photography and visual flourishes, although they do occasionally cross the line into gimmickry. Death Lends A Hand is one of the first of the series to stray from the usual formula and explore the potential of the series' premise and as such is still one of my favourites.
June 11, 2010
Peter Falk Excellent actor love all hes Columbo Movies...Im a Big Fan Of Columbo Guy's And Girls...
Super Reviewer
December 1, 2009
The first of the columbos to show there's a fluctuation in the quality. A thin story with too many incredible aspects of both the murdere's plan, and the ensuing investigation.
Note the experimental "film in the glasses reflection" scene. That'll make ya laugh. The first 20 seconds or so anyways....
November 22, 2009
Great acting in a well-told mystery.
November 3, 2008
Dang, there are a ton of Columbo movies.
½ July 8, 2008
Columbo ja legendaarinen piilolasi jippo. tykkaan
July 4, 2008
I'm a Columbo addict...
March 5, 2008
Season 1 Episode 2. A hot-tempered private detective accidentally kills a woman who he tries to blackmail. Columbo is assigned to the case and is soon placed in a co-operative position with the private detective by the husband. Great ending to this episode.
December 10, 2007
ohhhhhh ... i love this episode of Columbo ! Have seen it many times before but just love how the killer is 'caught' here ....
November 9, 2007
One of the best Columbo-episodes with Robert Culp delivering one of its most memorable villains. Also worth watching for some rare set-pieces (like the murder, which is seen as a flash-back in Culp's sunglasses).
November 7, 2007
Peter Falk = Want to see it.
November 6, 2007
There are way to many of these, and I have seen them all.
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