July 11th, 2020


The Not So Sweet Smell . . . of Murder

Vera Miles, Martin Sheen, and Vincent Price are in the impressive guest cast for 1973's third season premiere of Columbo. "Lovely but Lethal" has some things in common with the previous season's "Requiem for a Fallen Star", especially in that Columbo seems really star struck by the murderess. In this case, though, it's only because his wife is so into her beauty products and he sees Miles' face every time he uses the bathroom at home. She doesn't quite seem to know if she should be flattered when he mentions this.

Vera Miles gives a much better performance than Anne Baxter and even when she tips her hand, proudly telling Columbo (Peter Falk) that she can't be the killer because she's a redhead and the killer wrote a message in black eyebrow pencil, she still makes her mania subtle enough you can believe she'd fool a lesser detective. Sadly, she doesn't have much screentime with Vincent Price who turns in a reliably creative performance as a rival perfume manufacturer.

Young Martin Sheen, three years away from romancing Ava Gardner in The Cassandra Crossing, here already shows a predilection for older actresses and wants to extort sex as well as money from Miles. This is one of those cases where it's difficult to see the killer as a straight forward villain. It would be nice if the episode developed this a little more.

But in any case it's entertaining watching Columbo try to stay on Miles' trail while following her around a weight loss spa resort.

Columbo is available with commercials on Amazon Prime.