Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star

Columbo and the Murder of a Rock Star; Crime, USA, 1991; D: Alan J. Levi, S: Peter Falk, Dabney Coleman, Cheryl Paris, Shera Danese, Julian Stone

Hugh Craighton, a rich lawyer who never lost a case, finds out his spouse, Marcy, a rock star, is cheating on him. He develops a fiendish plan: one day, he uses a hypodermic needle to insert a tranquillizer into a champagne bottle, knocking out her boyfriend, Neddy. Craighton then strangles her. When Neddy wakes up, he is shocked to find her dead and runs away. The police naturally assume he is the perpetrator and arrest him, but Lieutenant Columbo suspects that Craighton is behind it all. However, Craighton has a phenomenal alibi: a photo of him speeding in his car exactly during the time of murder. Still, Columbo dismantles it: someone else just wore a scanned photo of Craighton's face in that car.

The 58th episode of the "Columbo" series, "Murder of a Rock Star" is another charming and clever little contribution to the ever stimulating "whodunnit" puzzle crime plot: the "unnecessary" opening rock 'n' roll song "Closer Closer Your Lips to Mine", written exclusively for this occasion by Steve Dorff, is an "unnecessary" bonus musical highlight, Dabney Coleman is very good as the bad guy Craighton, a skillful lawyer who knows how to avoid getting arrested, the direction by Alan J. Levi is elegant whereas the story flows smoothly. Some far fetched details and plot holes are still there, yet this movie has probably the most delicious of all alibis that Columbo had to dismantle: the one where Craighton has a photo of himself speeding in his car dozens and dozens of miles away from his home during the exact time of murder. The way the famous detective figures out how he did it is one of the ontological, unforgettable highlights of this series.


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