Columbo's Check Mate
When chess champion Emmett Clayton (Laurence Harvey) finds himself scheduled to play chess legend Tomlin Dudek (Jack Kruschen), a kindly old Russian gentleman who has come out of retirement, it puts Clayton on edge to the point he tails Dudek to a restaurant. It is there that Clayton learns the Dudek is diabetic and they end up playing an impromptu game of chess using the utensils on the table which ends up being continued back at Clayton's hotel room where Clayton ends up losing. It is then that Clayton decides to murder his rival and make it look like an accident. Well it might look like an accident to some but not to Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk) who suspects Clayton of foul play.
Well I hate to say it but "Columbo: The Most Dangerous Match" is one of my least favourite episodes of Columbo and it is down to really just two things. One of those is the opening which serves up a trippy nightmare sequence as Clayton imagines himself on a life size chess board losing to Dudek. Now maybe the trippy, halucinary nature of this was impressive back in 1973 but it is something I have never been fond of.
The other thing is that pretty much everyone except Peter Falk seems to over act their way through "Columbo: The Most Dangerous Match". First there is Laurence Harvey who turns on the theatrics as if he was acting with Richard Burton but ends up painfully over the top and stiff for doing so. Then there is Lloyd Bochner who comes across like he read a book on how to act Russian with emphasis on the accent which ends up hilarious when he tries to act like he has just worked something out.
And the annoying thing is that "Columbo: The Most Dangerous Match" could have been so good, pitting the Lieutenant against a Chess master, a great tactician. But instead the things which are wrong with this episode stick out like a sore thumb such as the studio shot car scenes of Columbo driving.
What this all boils down to is that "Columbo: The Most Dangerous Match" could have been a good movie but unfortunately the acting and some of the styling ends up spoiling it for me especially the acting of Laurence Harvey who is over the top from start to finish.