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      Ransom for a Dead Man

      TV-PG 1971 1h 38m Mystery & Thriller List
      Reviews 80% Audience Score 250+ Ratings Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) outwits a lawyer (Lee Grant) who has killed her husband but made it look like a kidnapping. Read More Read Less

      Critics Reviews

      View All (1) Critics Reviews
      David Parkinson Radio Times Lee Grant was rewarded with an Emmy nomination for her bravura performance as the lawyer, and [Peter] Falk is typically sly as he seemingly stumbles towards the solution. Rated: 3/5 Apr 9, 2020 Full Review Read all reviews

      Audience Reviews

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      Matthew D Peter Falk and Lee Grant deliver a perfect mystery film! Director Richard Irving's murder mystery Ransom for a Dead Man (1971) is riveting and such a great sequel to Prescription: Murder. Irving's direction hinges on the smart dialogue as he lets us absorb all the information and observe Columbo find clues in missed details that make no sense until he deduces how the killer set up the kidnapping. Edward M. Abroms' editing leans into close-up and medium shots of suspicious faces and cautious glares. I love cinematographer Lionel Lindon's wide shots of rooms, so we're always aware of where Columbo is relative to a suspect or clue. Peter Falk in his usual slouching and waddling form as the ultra observant and cunning Lieutenant Columbo. Peter Falk is so fascinating and entertaining to watch his gaze change from figuring out the kidnapping case to realizing he needs to solve a murder. Lee Grant's breathtaking murderess is smart and shrewd, but misses early clues that Columbo already suspects her when he walks in the front door. He quickly looks around and notices her strange words and habits and he mentally is already building a case against her. Harold Gould is great as the clueless policeman. Patricia Mattick is lovely and moving as the daughter of the murder victim, who immediately realizes her evil step-mother is actually the culprit. Writers Richard Levinson, William Link, and Dean Hargrove provide a crafty case for Columbo involving a gunshot from a chair, a fake ransom note, a plane ride, and an empty bag. It's all riveting and your attention is glued to Peter Falk and Lee Grant's marvelous acting. Billy Goldenberg's lively score is as playful as Columbo's careful accusations. In short, Ransom for a Dead Man is endlessly entertaining and cleverly written for an engaging 95 minutes. Peter Falk and Lee Grant can do no wrong. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 12/19/23 Full Review Donald A "You got lucky," says Lee Grant's murderer at the end of the film to Peter Falk's Columbo. In some ways, that's an acceptable description of the events that occurred in this episode. Columbo haphazardly finds someone willing to aid him in his scheme, and without this, his hands are tied. This is the second of two pilots made before the series officially started. The other was "Prescription: Murder". The entire cast of that film was brilliant, and the murder was exceptionally clever. However, the character advancement of Columbo for his first on-screen appearance didn't go so far. In this episode (three years later), however, Peter Falk seems to be settling into Columbo's shabby raincoat. If these two were combined, it would most likely be one of the best Columbos ever. But one can dream. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 11/17/23 Full Review Audience Member Once again a clever performance by Falk as Columbo making a breakthrough in this puzzling mystery. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/19/23 Full Review Audience Member The Columbo series is rebooted with the mystery thriller Ransom for a Dead Man. Lt. Columbo is brought in to assist with the kidnapping case of a high profile lawyer, but when he turns up dead Columbo suspects that the wife has staged the whole thing. Lee Grant does a magnificent job at crafting a villain that's able to hold her own with Columbo and parry his joists. And, Peter Falk revamps the Columbo character as a clever, amiable, and unassuming detective that never shows all of his cards. The storytelling is also much improved, focusing on the investigation instead of the crime. Ransom for a Dead Man marks the rebirth of the Columbo series, and delivers a smart and engaging crime drama. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/08/23 Full Review Audience Member A great introduction to Columbo. Lee Grant's villain is among the most sinister of the entire series. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/26/23 Full Review Audience Member The second Columbo made for tv movie was the first one shown as part of the NBC mystery movie series. This one has Columbo pitted against a very intelligent woman lawyer who cleverly kills her husband in a ransom scheme. The interplay between her and Columbo are very good. Another very entertaining watch overall. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/25/23 Full Review Read all reviews
      Ransom for a Dead Man

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      Cast & Crew

      Movie Info

      Synopsis Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) outwits a lawyer (Lee Grant) who has killed her husband but made it look like a kidnapping.
      Director
      Richard Irving
      Producer
      Dean Hargrove
      Screenwriter
      Dean Hargrove
      Production Co
      NBC Universal Television
      Rating
      TV-PG (V)
      Genre
      Mystery & Thriller
      Original Language
      English
      Runtime
      1h 38m