Peter Falk in Columbo: Forgotten Lady (1975)

Columbo's Hollywood Homicide

Grace Wheeler (Janet Leigh) was once a huge star of the movies and each night when her husband, retired Dr. Willis (Sam Jaffe), goes to bed with a book she watches one of her old movies. When at a Hollywood bash she declares to a reporter that she plans to put on and star in a new show she returns home to find her husband steadfastly refusing to back her plans. It is why she sneaks in to his bedroom whilst he is asleep and shoots him, making it to look like he committed suicide. But when Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk) arrives at the crime scene he quickly becomes suspicious, but when questioning an actress it is not easy as she is so convincing.

"Columbo: Forgotten Lady" is one of those episodes you initially think is pretty straight forwards as we have Janet Leigh playing a former Hollywood star still living on her past glories who kills her husband due to his refusal to finance her attempt at the highlight again. In a typical fashion we get to see the murder as well the flaws in the crime as initially it seems a suicide behind a locked door but Columbo isn't convinced and in his usual way of being semi absent minded, a little comical and so on sets about solving the case.

Janet Leigh in Columbo: Forgotten Lady (1975)

But something happens shortly after the murder which grabs you when it comes to Grace's response to the butler's panic over the bedroom door being locked. This is backed up when the next day a friend comes to speak to Grace and she doesn't seem to be quite herself. Now I won't say what goes on although I will say it takes what initially feels quite a standard episode in to one with a twist ending.

What is clear about "Columbo: Forgotten Lady" is that whilst it has the twist it is also an episode with big performances with Janet Leigh delivering a full on performance of a former star living in the past and in denial. And Peter Falk looks like he is enjoying himself acting opposite Leigh. But Maurice Evans as Raymond the loyal and devoted butler steals many a scene with a performance which almost has a touch of Hitchcock about it.

What this all boils down to is that "Columbo: Forgotten Lady" ends up a bit of a surprise thanks to that mix of the familiar, those quintessential "Columbo" bits but with a storyline which has a twist ending which makes this a whole lot more interesting than you might first think when you start to watch it.