Columbo: Death Lends a Hand (1971)
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Critic Reviews for Columbo: Death Lends a Hand
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Audience Reviews for Columbo: Death Lends a Hand
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.
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.
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