Monday, June 10, 2024

Tonight's TV: Columbo (1973) - "Candidate for Crime," "Double Exposure" - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

My latest COLUMBO viewing, from Season 3, was a pair of treats: "Candidate for Crime," featuring Jackie Cooper as the villain, followed by "Double Exposure," with Robert Culp returning for his third go-round on the show.

Whatever the episode, the edgy Culp might have been Columbo's best nemesis of all, and indeed, "Double Exposure" is one of my favorite series episodes to date.

In "Candidate for Crime," directed by Boris Sagal, Cooper plays Senate candidate Nelson Hayward, who murders his controlling campaign manager Harry Stone (Ken Swofford).

Hayward takes advantage of supposedly having received death threats and sets up an elaborate plot for Stone's murder, suggesting it was a case of mistaken identity.

Columbo almost immediate catches on that something is awry in Hayward's story, from a suspiciously cold car engine at the murder scene to the odd timing of an order Hayward has placed for a new suit.

Tisha Sterling, daughter of Robert Sterling and Ann Sothern, plays a young woman with whom Hayward is having an affair, while Joanne Linville does a nice job as his wife. Familiar faces like Vito Scotti, Jack Riley, and L.A. newsman Clete Roberts also turn up in the episode.  The director's daughter, Katey Sagal, has a role as a secretary.

This was a solid, well-done show. It was filmed by William Cronjager, who also filmed "Double Exposure."

"Double Exposure" was written by the legendary Stephen J. Cannell (THE ROCKFORD FILES) and it shows, with an interesting, well-paced story and good dialogue. This was Cannell's only COLUMBO episode, and my first thought after seeing this was wishing he'd written more. However, the pilot for THE ROCKFORD FILES aired just three months after this episode, so I suspect Cannell was busy.

"Double Exposure" was directed by Richard Quine, who had previously directed one of the worst episodes, "Dagger of the Mind"; ironically, given that history, this episode may have been my favorite to date.

Culp plays a pioneer in the field of "motivational research" who is a marketing genius; subliminal cuts of photos into films which prompt behavior from viewers play a key role in both the murder and the denouement.

Culp bumps off an irritating client threatening to fire him. As always, his character does not hide his annoyance with the seemingly bumbling Detective Columbo. One might think that just once a murderer would try to be a little more subtle, but I guess then we'd be robbed of the fun of seeing Culp's impatient snark.

I also wonder why characters in various episodes think they can get away with blackmailing the murderer; it never seems to occur to anyone that they might be bumped off too!

This episode was a particular gem in terms of its 1970s L.A. locations. The grocery store was a Gemco (no pun intended!) once located in North Hollywood, and the Magnolia Theatre in Burbank -- seen showing HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (1973) -- was open from 1940 to 1979. I also loved the peeks at 1970s projectors and screening equipment.

Robert Middleton plays the murder victim, and the supporting cast includes Louise Latham. If I remember the name correctly, my dad knew Dennis Robertson, who plays Detective Marley, in college.

"Double Exposure" is highly recommended

Previous COLUMBO review posts: "Murder By the Book" (1971), "Death Lends a Hand" (1971), "Dead Weight" (1971), "Suitable for Framing" (1971), "Lady in Waiting" (1971), "Short Fuse" (1972), "Blueprint for Murder" (1972), "Etude in Black" (1972), "The Greenhouse Jungle" (1972), "The Most Crucial Game" (1972), "Dagger of the Mind" (1972), "Requiem for a Falling Star" (1973), "A Stitch in Crime" (1973), "The Most Dangerous Match" (1973), "Double Shock" (1973), "Lovely But Lethal" (1973), "Any Old Port in a Storm" (1973).

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray collection.


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