Columbo: Blueprint for Murder (1972)

Pamela Austin and Patrick O'Neal in Columbo: Blueprint for Murder (1972)

Architect of a Killing

When millionaire horse owner Bo Williamson (Forrest Tucker) returns from a two month long trip to Europe he is furious to find that his second wife, Jennifer (Pamela Austin), has used his money to finance a construction project dreamed up by architect Elliot Markham (Patrick O'Neal). After confronting Elliot over what he has done Bo disappears with his wife Jennifer believing he has headed back to Europe again without telling her. But Bo's first wife, Goldie (Janis Paige), is not convinced and whilst she has no proof that he has been murdered she persuades Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk) to investigate as she fears something has happened to him.

The more episodes of "Columbo" I watch the more I am impressed by them especially considering that even those from back from the first series in 1971 are as entertaining now as they have always been with some really standing out as being special. Sadly "Columbo: Blueprint for Murder" is not one of those special ones with the one unique aspect of it being that it is the only episode of "Columbo" which Peter Falk was credited with directing. That may be why "Columbo: Blueprint for Murder" doesn't stand out as it lacks many of the visual flourishes which I associated with the episodes from the first series.

Janis Paige in Columbo: Blueprint for Murder (1972)

But whilst "Columbo: Blueprint for Murder" doesn't have those visual flourishes, which is not always such a bad thing, it does have the basics and that is Columbo picking up on the smallest of irregularities and from then on tugging away until he gets to the end. As such it all starts with Columbo finding it strange that whilst Bo listened to western music on a cassette in his car the radio had been tuned to classical. And as such we watch as Columbo finds this one irregularity leading to another with inconsistencies between what people say and so on. It is all typical but all entertaining as is the fact this is one of only a few episodes of "Columbo" where it doesn't clearly start with a murder or the discovery of a dead body.

Now whilst I can't say that Peter Falk's directing did much for me, with a lot of mid range shots which do nothing, his performance as the determined lieutenant is as enjoyable as ever. But it is Patrick O'Neal's performance which makes "Columbo: Blueprint for Murder" as he brings some raw danger to the character of Markham and you quickly suspect that maybe in another city he is known by another name with some skeletons in his closet or more likely buried in a building's foundations. There is also an enjoyable performance from Janis Paige playing the first wife with a glamorous flourish which makes her slightly amusing.

What this all boils down to is that "Columbo: Blueprint for Murder" is as entertaining as any episode of Columbo you might watch but beyond the fact that this one was directed by Peter Falk and doesn't start with a dead body it is an ordinary one.

Tags: Columbo