Columbo: Murder by the Book (1971)





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Ken Franklin is a rich socialite living in a luxurious coastal mansion bought from his years of writing crime and mystery books. However, what he once wrote as fiction becomes reality as he murders a man and then desperatly tries to cover up his crime when he is blackmailed by a witness. As usual, Columbo arrives on the scene and begins to pester his suspect with questions about the murder. Mr. Franklin soon realises though, that no murder is perfect, and that one of his books may return to haunt him.
Action & Adventure , Drama , Mystery & Suspense , Television
Directed By:
In Theaters:
MCA Universal Home Video


Critic Reviews for Columbo: Murder by the Book

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Audience Reviews for Columbo: Murder by the Book

Young Steven Speilberg directs this first year episode of TV Columbo. Almost always criminals are lame amateurs in the Columbo series, so mistakes do them in. When one member of a mystery writing team wants to break from his less talented partner, he becomes the victim in a real-life murder mystery. SEE a trailer of the film here: [img][/img] The murderous author Ken (Jack Cassidy) Actor Jack Cassidy, here a villainous co-author of best selling detective books who can't deal with losing the real brains behind the books, tv actor Martin Milner. The bodies pile up in this one as one death leads to another by the devious Cassidy. [img][/img] Columbo,left, questions Ken (Jack Cassidy) REVIEWS by RT members: 80% Directed by Steven Spielberg. Jack Cassidy one of the best Columbo's recurrent villains (as well as Robert Culp). 70% Murder by the Book is a somewhat clever crime thriller from legendary director Steven Spielberg. 60% Clever mystery, with Columbo at his typical best. Steven Spielberg's direction makes this one worth tuning into. [img][/img] NOTES: 1 Jack Cassidy in reality died in a mysterious fire. Married to film star Shirley Jones (Music Man 1962) and father of teen idol David Cassidy. He appeared in several episodes of Columbo. For a look at the mysterious death and personna of Jack Cassidy, SEE this: [img][/img] Falk as Columbo Peter Falk as Columbo Jack Cassidy as author Ken Franklin Rosemary Forsyth as Joanna Ferris Martin Milner as author Jim Ferris Barbara Colby as Lilly La Sanka Lynette Mettey as Gloria Jr. (as Lynnette Mettey) Bernie Kuby as Mike Tucker [img][/img]

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Murder by the Book is a somewhat clever crime thriller from legendary director Steven Spielberg. The story follows a famous mystery novelist named Ken Franklin who kills his writing partner Jim Ferris when he threatens to go out on his own, but upon learn that Jim did all of the writing LAPD detective Lt. Columbo starts to suspect Franklin of the murder. Jack Cassidy brings a lot of charisma to his role as Franklin, but he doesn't quite pull off the duality of the character. Still, the plot is thought-out fairly well and has some interesting twists. While it's a bit rushed at times and doesn't do much character development, Murder by the Book is a solid murder mystery.

Dann Michalski
Dann Michalski

Super Reviewer


I wouldn't usually comment about a Columbo movie as it was made for TV and there are loads of them but this one is a bit special as it's directed by a Mr Spielberg. I'm a Columbo fan anyway but this is the original pilot and already you can see most of the things that make Columbo great in place. Flak is excellent and Cassidy makes a great villain. Not many Spielberg flourishes but still a great start for an enduring detective.

David Sayers
David Sayers

Super Reviewer

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