Richard Levinson and William Link wrote a short story in the 1950s, “May I Come In?” (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine under the title, “Dear Corpus Delecti”). That short story was adapted by The Chevy Mystery Show in 1960 under the title “Enough Rope.” Two years later, Levinson and Link’s play, Prescription For Murder, opened at the Curran Theater in San Francisco. The play was not successful, but when it went on tour, Link says, “It made a fortune.”

Columbo became part of the NBC Mystery Movie series from 1971 to 1978. Bing Crosby was the first choice for the role. When Bing turned it down, Lee J. Cobb was approached. He had no interest. Peter Falk was hired and told Link, “I would kill to play that cop.” Falk went on to win four Emmys for his portrayal of Lieutenant Frank Columbo.

Diane and I saw Prescription for Murder: Columbo at Desiderio’s Dinner Theatre in Cheektowaga, a Buffalo suburb. The local actors who put on the play were competent and occasionally clever. The play presents the murder of a wife by her psychiatrist husband. It looks like a perfect crime, but Columbo slowly unravels the scheme. We enjoy the production and would come back in the future. Do you have a favorite episode of Columbo? GRADE: B+


  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    I enjoyed Columbo but it has been so long since I have seen it I couldn’t pick out an episode. I do remember the later ones as being not as good as the early ones.

    Bing Crosby? What were they thinking? That would have been a horrible choice. Lee J. Cobb I could understand.

  2. Cap'n Bob

    When I worked is Ossining, NY, I had to walk from the train station to my place of employment! Along the way I saw Flak’s, a clothing store! It was owned by Peter Falk’s parents! I liked the show for a while but there was a sameness to it and I dropped out after the first or second season!

    Still in the Awaiting Moderation prison!

    1. george Post author

      Bob, sorry for the delay. Diane and I were flying back from San Jose and Wi-Fi on the plane and in the Baltimore Airport was spotty. Like you, I prefer the early episodes of COLOMBO. I love the one about the wine: Any Old Port in a Storm (07 Oct 1973).

  3. Deb

    I loved the early ones where everything hinges on some technological “miracle” (like videotape or the ribbon of one of those new-fangled typewriters); as Steve points out, the later episodes weren’t so good. We used to have a fun time picking out bit players in the background who went on to fame and fortune. Jamie Lee Curtis was a waitress in one episode. A very young Bruno Kirby was a military cadet in another. Another thing that’s fun is to realize that in the 1970s all those dark-paneled rooms with floral chintz furniture were the embodiment of what “wealthy/upscale” looked like.

    1. george Post author

      Deb, there was also a class warfare undercurrent in COLUMBO. The killers were all wealthy One Percenters. And Columbo represented the Middle Class.

      1. wolf

        That’s also what I remember, always rich people as murderers who look down at Columbo with his cheap raincoat – and his crazy rusty European car!

      2. george Post author

        Wolf, yes the Rich killers made fun of Columbo and underestimated him…until he solved the murder and arrested them.

  4. Patti Abbott

    Etude in Black with John Cassavetes is the one that sticks with me. His intensity burned a hole in our tv screen.

    1. Deb

      Yes! It all hinges on when he’s wearing his boutonnière. Plus, Blythe Danner as his wife—looking amazingly like Gwyneth Paltrow.

  5. Jeff Meyerson

    I remember seeing the original Prescription: Murder with the odious Gene Barry (who I have always disliked) as the murderer. The early ones were good, but as the Cap’n says, there is a sameness to them that make it better to watch one every once in a while rather than weekly. I remember the one with Cassavetes too, and another with Patrick McGoohan. I’ve been a fan of Falk’s since his breakthrough role as Abe Reles in MURDER INC. in 1960, and THE IN-LAWS is one of my all-time favorites. When I looked at the list of episodes on Wikipedia, I saw Robert Culp played the killer in each of the first three seasons.

    I agree, of course, on Bing Crosby, who I abominate.

    1. George Kelley

      Jeff, we had an hour delay at the Baltimore Airport and landed in Buffalo after Midnight. We had a snowy ride home to North Tonawanda. We’re supposed to get an additional 1-3 inches of snow tonight.

      1. Jeff Meyerson

        Glad you made it OK. It’s always good to be home. As I had hoped (and expected), our storm was not as bad as the worst predictions would have had it. It stayed above 32 most of the day and night yesterday, so we had mostly freezing rain and wet snow, but it melted as soon as it hit the ground. In the end we only had about an inch or so, mostly on grassy surfaces and the roofs of cars.

      2. george Post author

        Jeff, Patrick flew to NYC yesterday…after a 2 1/2 hour delay at the San Francisco Airpot. He’s going to be taking the train to Washington, D.C. later in the week. Diane and I are both jet lagged today. I’ll be headed for bed early tonight.

      3. wolf

        Glad you made it!
        Every day we read of delayed and cancelled flights in the US North East. Is this a typical winter or an early one for you?
        Here we’ll see the first nights below freezing soon …
        But no snow yet.

      4. george Post author

        Wolf, Diane and I seldom travel from Halloween to Easter–basically our Winter season. Our kids fly in during the Holidays…but delays because of weather are inevitable.

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