Columbo does Macbeth

Peter Falk and Bernard Fox in Columbo: Dagger of the Mind (1972)

As preparations to stage "Macbeth" in London starring famed actors Lillian Stanhope (Honor Blackman) and Nicholas Frame (Richard Basehart) is well under way they end up in an argument with producer Sir Roger Haversham (John Williams) who has become aware that the couple has been deceiving him. When the argument ends up with Haversham being accidentally killed the actors decide to sneak the body out of the theatre and take it back to Haversham's home where they will make it look like his death was accidental. It just so happens Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk) is in London for work, learning about some new techniques which Scotland Yard are using, and becomes suspicious when he visits the crime scene with Det. Chief Supt. William Durk (Bernard Fox).

So "Columbo" comes to London in "Columbo: Dagger of the Mind", a 70s London at that with the sort of characters which makes me think the writers had based them on those they had seen British sitcoms. But I will get to that later and so in the amended words of Reginald VelJohnson "Columbo's pissing in someone else's pool" as he can't help but notice things which don't make sense when it comes to the supposed accidental death of a producer, the typical sort of thing such as a rare book left in such a way it would be damaged. It is entertaining enough but it is a case of being a pretty typical episode of "Columbo" but playing on the novelty factor of Lt. Columbo in the UK.

Honor Blackman in Columbo: Dagger of the Mind (1972)

What that means is that "Columbo: Dagger of the Mind" has quite a comedic tone as on one hand we have Columbo being not only a fish out of water but also a bit of an accident prone fool, getting under people's feet and so on. But whilst on one hand you have Falk going for comedy you also have the sitcom portrayal of Brits from cops who drink on the job to everyone being snobs. I suppose back in the 70s this might have been entertaining but now it makes this episode of "Columbo" feel corny in places. What is also kind of amusing is that with the exception of some exterior shots most of "Columbo: Dagger of the Mind" was shot in America, especially the scenes featuring Wilfrid Hyde-White as he was a tax exile at the time.

On the subject of Wilfrid Hyde-White he is just one of various famous faces who appear in this episode. But whilst there are some famous faces none of them make that much of an impression. This again comes down to the writers which seems to have written every character as if they were designed around a British sitcom character, in fact some would not have looked out of place in a "Carry on" movie due to their bumbling, comedic tone.

What this all boils down to is that whilst there is the entertainment of watching Columbo solve a crime in "Columbo: Dagger of the Mind" all the other bits of this episode don't work so well for me and ends up one of those episodes where the comedic side feels distinctly out of place.

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