Columbo: Murder by the Book - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Columbo: Murder by the Book Reviews

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May 10, 2017
A masterfully directed early episode of Columbo by a very young Steven Spielberg. The final gotcha is perhaps more clever than it is damning and it's hard to believe that the villain as portrayed superbly by Jack Cassidy would cave in on something so circumstantial. Nevertheless this is a top notch Columbo with great rewatch value.
½ August 18, 2013
Normally i like most of the Columbo movies , time will tell ...
August 14, 2013
Directed by Steven Spielberg. Jack Cassidy one of the best Columbo's recurrent villains (as well as Robert Culp).
Super Reviewer
½ August 5, 2013
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.
½ December 22, 2012
Very entertaining, well mounted debut of the eponymous detective.
December 4, 2011
The classic first Columbo episode, famous for being directed by a pre-fame (but not for much longer) Steven Speilberg. Although its only his third outing in the role (two pilot episodes having followed), Falk has mastered the character already whilst Cassidy (who would also return in further episodes) sets the bar for future villains as the smarmy, cocksure author who, like many after him, underestimate the shabby sleuth's investigate genius.
½ October 23, 2011
Le meilleur Columbo, le seul que je vois et revois en etant totalement crispe.
August 11, 2011
Classic Detective Drama, As The First Episode Kicks Of, With A Murder Of An Author, Commited By His Partner Because He Wanted To Go Solo. Great Episode, With Almost Flawless Direction From A Young Steven Spielberg.
July 6, 2011
Another memorable and entertaining Columbo, this one is directed by a very young Steven Spielberg. What makes this one so good is the interplay between Columbo and his suspect who is a a mystery writer or at least claims to be. It is fun to watch him try to undermine Columbo as he considers himself to be the expert on solving a mystery.
Super Reviewer
½ May 10, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
January 21, 2011
One half of a mystery writing team murders his partner after being told that he plans to go solo. The very first episode proper of Columbo started as it meant to go on; an intriguing plot, interesting characters and the classic Columbo ploy of playing the bedazzled, dimwitted flatfoot, all the while taking in every detail as he plans to unravel a seemingly water tight murder plot. Falk is perfect in the role of Columbo, playing the affable innocent although his steel trap of a mind has solved the case within minutes and it's great to watch Jack Cassidy's arrogant slimeball get more and more tetchy with him as he sees himself gradually becoming undone, thread by thread. There is also some nice support from a very believable Rosemary Forsyth as the grieving widow and Barbara Colby as the star struck small towner who foolishly tries to blackmail the killer. Hardly over stocked with big names, but it's a well written, well acted, intelligent detective story and it certainly didn't hurt to have a little known young director by the name of Steven Spielberg at the helm...
½ October 5, 2010
Very entertaining, well mounted debut of the eponymous detective.
January 15, 2010
It's Columbo, enough said. Directed by non other than Steven Spielberg.
Super Reviewer
December 2, 2009
Episode 1 directed by Spielberg. The first of I believe three, with Jack Cassidy as our killer. He makes a great murderer, and the plot is well thought through. A great start
½ November 22, 2009
Peter Falk is amazing; Mystery, hubris, and an ingeniously oblique detective.
½ October 8, 2009
I love Columbo, but I never felt enough tension. You know he is going to solve it and you never feel like the detective is threatened. The scariest part was that murdered woman`s teeth
½ August 31, 2009
An early episode of one of the best detective dramas ever seen on television. Featuring Jack Cassidy (who appeared in two other episodes) and directed by Steven Spielberg long before Jaws.
April 1, 2009
This one came up first through searching for 'Columbo', so it stands for a review of Columbo as a whole - which, though about murders, is unique, absolutely unique, and about as far away from murder-of-the-week junk like CSI as you can get. Why? Character and focus.

Columbo, and so much credit must go to Peter Falk here, is the most loveable detective ever put on-screen; yet why is that? He's not your typical American hero; he isn't 'tough', doesn't intimidate people, he's dishevelled, disorganised, loves his wife and his dog and, most surprisingly of all, he is HUMBLE. He isn't concerned, like Poirot and co., with taking the stage and becoming the centre of attention as he magnificently draws back the curtain and says "Aha! It was YOU!" No, he quietely gets on with it, and indeed a lot of the satisfaction in Columbo arises from the disparity between what the murderer thinks of the lieutenant (that he's stupid), and what we know - that he's intelligent, tenacious, incredibly perceptive, and WILL catch you if you did it. It's a subversive characterisation through its apparent unheroicness.

The other pretty revolutionary thing about Columbo: it starts with the murder, sure, but it's not cloaked in shadows, a gloved hand firing a gun as the victim's shocked face begs us to ask "WHO THE-?" for the next hour. No - we know who did it. We see them kill. We watch as they prepare, as they do the deed, and as they cover it up. So there is no mystery. This is very brave for television. It relies solely on the appeal of the - primarily linguistic - game between cop and killer, in which the murderer makes a move, the lieutenant makes his and so on, and all is inferred, all is undertones for most of the screentime. Each is pretending: the guilty is innocent; the cop is only following up with "just one more thing". We watch eagerly to see how Columbo will deliver checkmate.
½ March 25, 2009
je l ai déjà vu, on est fan ou on ne l'ai pas!!!!!
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