Columbo (1971) s01e03 Episode Script

Murder by the Book

Who is it? You're not intimidated? Come on, Ken.
Are you forgetting that I'm one half of the world's greatest mystery writing team.
You don't have gloves on.
Your finger's not on the trigger and there are no bullets in the cylinder.
You're right.
I'm a lousy practical joker.
What are you doing here with that thing anyway? I was on my way down to the cabin, I thought I could use it for protection down there.
I also came by to apologize.
For what? For blowing my cork the other day.
I got out of line.
Forget it.
That happens.
No, it shouldn't happen.
Not between you and me.
So, believe it or not, sir this is a peace pipe.
Bottoms up, Jim.
In the middle of the morning? Oh, come on, relax.
It's Saturday.
In the mystery writer's soul, it is always the middle of the night.
A toast! Dear sir.
I give you our divorce.
Wellit's not really a divorce.
Oh, sure it is.
Come on, let's be honest.
I mean, it it's no alimony but it's a termination.
Oh yes, and our dear little children.
All fifteen of them.
Fifty million copies.
To the lady who made it all possible, the greatest sleuth in the world Mrs.
Whom we brought to life and now we're about to bury.
Come on, Ken.
You're making me feel guilty.
All I want to do is write on my own.
You're right.
I am being selfish.
OK, my boy, my blessings.
On your solo flight.
I appreciate it.
After all, friendship is more important than partnership, right? Here's to our friendship.
And now sir, I'm going to kidnap you.
What? The aforementioned cabin, which has been finished for over six months now.
You haven't seen it.
You're going to be my first male guest.
I can't, Ken.
Not now.
Why can't you? It's all the way down to San Diego.
It's a couple of hours' drive.
I'll have you home before midnight.
Yeah I promised Joanna I'd take her to dinner and a show.
Oh, that's easy.
You pick up that phone and you say, "Honey, I'm going to be working late at the office tonight.
" Come on.
As soon as we get down there, we'll uncork another bottle and we'll go fishing.
Well, I can't You know your trouble old buddy is? I mean, you're afraid to unwind even for a day.
Oh no, I'm not Then prove it.
Come on, if you want some justification, you're doing it as a favor for me.
At least give me a chance to bury the hatchet with some style.
You just don't drop your partner and then turn down his invitation all in one week now, do you? Actually, the timing isn't bad.
I was just finishing the final chapter.
Ah, Mrs.
Melville's last case.
You know we ought to send that broad some flowers.
I made a list of the things I'd like to take from the office.
Do you want to take look at it? I don't get it.
It's a list of names.
I'm losing my mind.
It's the wrong one.
I must've left the other one at the house.
AhI am losing my mind.
What's the matter? I left my lighter in the office.
Do you need it? That's my security blanket.
I'll only be a minute.
And to think I had to talk you into this trip.
Jim, smell that air.
How far is the cabin? It's not far, about an hour.
We have to skirt San Diego.
I'll only be a minute.
I just have to get some supplies.
Do you want to hand me that book in that glove compartment? Yeah, it's one of ours.
The boss-lady here is a big fan of ours.
I've been promising this for months.
The price of fame.
You want me to come with you? No.
I'll only be a minute.
Miss La Sanka? Anybody home? In a minute.
My planets must be in the right house.
Not only that, but they're working overtime.
I have a surprise for you.
Pour moi? Pour moi.
"Prescription: Murder" A Mrs.
Melville thriller by James Ferris and Ken Franklin.
Ohtake a look at the first page.
You signed it, you dear man Well, Mr.
I'd rather have the storyteller than the story.
Well I tell you what.
If you play your cards right and give me my grocery list, someday you may have both.
Empty promises.
Miss La Sanka.
What do you need? Just a few things for overnight.
Who is it this week? The blonde or the redhead? Miss La Sanka.
I'm all alone this weekend.
Except for some contemplation, some fishing, and the refreshment of my spirit.
Could you break this for me? I need some change for the phone.
Thanks very much.
That'll do fine.
Thank you.
Operator? I'd like to place a station to station call to Los Angeles, the area code is 213.
Hello? Joanna? It's Ken.
Oh, Ken.
I thought you weren't talking to us.
Oh, that's all patched up.
As a matter of fact, I left Jim at the office a few hours ago.
We signed an armistice.
Oh, that's a relief.
Joanna, I wouldn't mention it to him.
I'm sure he'd like to surprise you himself.
Why don't you join us for dinner and we'll celebrate? I'd really love to, but I'm spending the weekend down here in San Diego at the cabin.
As a matter of fact, that's where I'm calling from.
All right, then we'll do it another time.
Joanna, I thought maybe if you for some reason, needed to get in touch with me, you do know the number of the cabin.
I'll see you in a few days.
Do you ever get the feeling of deja vu? What? Like you've done something before, but you know you haven't? Why? What do you mean? I'm getting it right now.
It's strange.
You know, I've never been here before.
Maybe in a previous incarnation, huh? Ken, it's fantastic.
The house that Mrs.
Melville built.
Wait'll you see the inside.
It's no wonder No wonder what? What woman could resist this setting? Not very many.
I promise you that.
How about a drink, Jim? More alcohol? No, thanks.
You'll corrupt me.
You're thinking about Joanna, aren't you? Yeah, you know I mean just taking off like that She still expects me for dinner.
We can fix that.
We'll put plan A into effect.
Pick up the phone and call her.
What am I going to tell her? The man is too square for words.
Now look.
You simply say that you're working at the office.
You're calling from the office.
She knows you have a deadline to meet with the book, you're working late.
How many times have you had to do that? A couple of hundred, I guess.
That's why she'll believe you.
Yeah I just hate lying to her.
You're not lying to her.
You're saving her a little anguish.
Now will you pick up the phone and call her so we can start enjoying ourselves.
OK Operator, I'd like to make a Hold it.
It's a cinch you have never cheated on Joanna before.
If you want your wife to believe you're calling from the office you don't have the operator place the call.
You dial her direct, the area code is 213.
Hi, honey? How are you Yeah, well, that's why I'm calling about itI'm at the office.
I'm pretty well into this last chapter and I'd like to work straight through.
I know, I know.
This will be the last time.
That I can Jimmy? Jimmy! Operator, get me the police! Hello Joanna?What? Joanna.
Will you take it easy.
Now say it again once more.
Are you sure? Did you call the police? Yes, of course.
I'll leave right away.
Joanna, please take it easy.
And don't worry.
I'm sure it's nothing but a practical joke.
I know it's insane I just I II keep thinking of cliches.
And Jim and Ken wrote this scene in their books a hundred times.
Look at it this way, Mrs.
Maybe he isn't dead.
There is no body, no blood No, he was shot! I know it! I heard it on the phone.
This place was searched, Mrs.
Papers on the floor.
Any idea why? No, I have no idea.
Did you notice anything special, missing something? You're sure it was his voice? Yes.
I know it was his voice.
And maybe somebody Was he under any kind of extra pressure or anything? No, maybe somebody was Did he say where he called from? Yes, he said he was calling from the office.
He said "I'm calling from the office.
" I really don't care if anything was missing.
I just really want to find out what happened to my husband.
Are you sure it was his voice? I know it was his voice.
Are you sure it was a gun shot? Yes, that's right.
Would you like to sit down and get a glass of water? Yes, I would like.
Really, please 'cause I'm not really sure what to do.
I just really want to clear my head.
I think that's out of order, ma'am.
You see, that's the trouble with these buildings.
The fountains never work.
Then you have to use the coffee machine.
And then you lose your dime and the coffee's lousy.
Who are you? I'm just another cop.
My name is Columbo.
I'm a lieutenant.
I've got the proof right here.
You didn't see me in there.
Because I left before you got in there.
You know why? Because it's so smoky in there.
And so noisy in there.
That I just had to come outside and get a breath.
OhI think I'd better get back.
No, wait a minute.
Let me tell you something.
You look very tired to me.
I think you had a terrible experience in there.
And I think I ought to drive you home.
Let's call it a night.
Don't you think they want to ask me questions? I don't think they'll mind.
I think you've answered enough questions.
And I'll call them and I'll tell them you're with me.
What about Ken? Why isn't Ken here? I don't know why he isn't here.
Is that Mr.
Franklin, the other half of the writing team? Yeah, the other half of the team.
You know that's what I like about these buttons.
You don't have to push them.
They go off with the heat of your hand.
I'll bet you haven't had anything to eat You're a very nice man, Lieutenant.
But I'm not really hungry.
I'll tell you, Mrs.
Ferris, I'm the worst cook in the world.
But there's one thing I do terrific, and that's an omelette.
Even my wife admits it.
UhI need something for the egg shells.
Over there in that cabinet.
I'm really not hungry.
Listen, you take a taste.
If you don't like it, you throw it away.
I tell you what the secret is to a good omelette.
No eggs, just milk.
A skillet.
Over there.
You're a very persuasive man, Lieutenant.
Maybe I should hold up my end and make the coffee.
Cheese and onions.
And butter.
I need something to grate the cheese.
Over there in the cupboard.
What did they do with him, Lieutenant? I don't know, ma'am.
Wellthere was no body in the office.
Couldn't that mean he isn't dead? Now, that's hard to say.
It's been botherin' me, too.
I tell you the whole thing doesn't make sense unless it's a kidnapping.
And you don't shoot your victim first, do you? Why'd you laugh before? When? When I asked you if Mr.
Franklin was the other half of the writing team.
Uh Did I laugh? Maybe it was the way you put it.
"Writing team".
Maybe I shouldn't say it.
But Ken hasn't written a word of a Mrs.
Melville novel in years.
Melville? Who is Mrs.
Melville? The character that Jim and Ken created.
The one who solves all the crimes brilliantly.
Well Why did your husband put up with it? What I mean is him doing all the work? Well, there were compensations.
Ken did the publicity.
He went on all the talk shows.
He did interviews, and cultivated the film people He contributed.
He just didn't do any of writing.
Boy, I tell you, I'd love to be a writer.
That's a terrific talent.
Where'd he get all the ideas? From almost anything.
People, magazines, conversations.
I'm constantly finding scraps of paper and old matchbook covers just all over the house with notes and ideas.
And those were mysteries too, weren't they, huh? They're tricky.
I'll tell you that I could never figure those things out.
It got harder.
Maybe that's why he decided to go out on his own.
Oh, really? I didn't know that.
I guess he wanted to do some serious work.
No kidding.
How did Mr.
Franklin take that? Not very well.
But he'll get over it.
Gee, I'd hate to be in his shoes.
Why? Well, you got a writing team, and they're very famous.
Now they break up.
And what happens? One fellow continues writing books and the other fellow just stops.
That's what I keep telling Jim.
That sooner or later, people were bound to find out.
What? That your husband did all the writing? Yeah.
Kinda tough on Mr.
Franklin's ego.
Ken I know, I know.
Just take it easy.
I drove up here as fast as I could.
Is there anything new? No.
Not yet.
Jo, it's incredible.
I just saw him this morning at the office OhI'm sorry, Ken.
Lieutenant Columbo.
How you doing? The question is, how are you doing, Lieutenant? Well, I'm afraid we just got started.
Has Jim been found yet? Has he been found yet? Why? Did somebody tell you he was gone? Lieutenant, I just spent several hours driving up here from San Diego.
You must know the story is on every news station.
Oh, right, yeah, gee.
I shoulda thought of that.
Well, has he been found? I'm afraid not.
What were you, visiting friends in San Diego? He has a place there.
A cabin.
Away for the weekend, gee.
That's nice.
Could we get back to my question? Have you come up with any leads, any clues? Uh It's a little early for that.
Early? Seems to me your men are standing around just marking time.
Could I have a drink, love? I could use one myself.
I'll tell you something, Lieutenant.
See if Mrs.
Melville were on this case, she would be leaps and bounds ahead of you by now.
Is that the lady in the books? That's right.
You see she would have figured it out that this is not just someone missing.
This is a professional killing.
Aha! Here it is.
Take a look at that.
Uh Put it on the desk.
Just drop it 'cause of the fingerprints, you know.
Jim's fingerprints are all over that.
So are mine.
What is it? What does it look like? It's a list of names.
Look at that.
Musto, Delgado, Hathaway, Westlake Sound familiar? YeahKind of.
They should.
That's a list of some of the top men in organized crime on the west coast.
, Vegas, Frisco I don't understand.
It's painfully obvious.
One of these men had Jim killed.
Really? Why? Tell me something.
How long have you been a lieutenant, Lieutenant? Mrs.
Melville would have put that together like that.
Well look, I'm gonna take all the help I can get.
All right.
Let me see if I can explain it to you.
See my partner and I decided to split, go our separate ways.
I'm sure Joanna must've mentioned that to you.
Yeah, she said something about that.
Did she also mention the fact that Jim wanted to do some serious writing? Hey, wait a minute Dawning on you now? Knew you'd get it.
But that's only the tip of the iceberg.
You see, Jim was researching a complete and factual expose of all west coast organized crime.
I mean he was going around asking some pretty embarrassing questions.
Probing, compiling dossiers.
That's why they searched this office.
Apparently they got everything but that list.
And you think one of these fellas put out a contract on him? Of course.
Word must've gotten around that Jim was compiling all this information.
They knew they couldn't buy him off, so what did they do? They chose the usual alternative.
A professional killing, huh? But if that's true, why did they get rid of the body? Who knows? But remember one thing without a corpus delicti you can't prove a murder was committed in the first place.
But why would a professional killer care? I mean, he's already on a plane back from where he came.
Lieutenant, I can't answer all of your questions.
I've given you a list of the most likely suspects, a clear motive.
Isn't that enough to start with? Oh, that's plenty.
Believe me I'm very grateful for all the help you've given me.
Gee, that's funny What? This thing is folded lengthwise.
Like someone was carrying it in their pocket.
So? Well, if he typed that on that typewriter, and I'll run a check on that, why would he fold it up before he put it in that drawer? I'm beginning to like you.
Why is that? Because you're finally beginning to think like Mrs.
Unfortunately, Jim used to fold up a piece of paper, and he'd use it as a bookmark, you know.
Now however interesting your observation is, it only leads us far astray.
However, since you are beginning to learn how to emulate our dear lady, I'm going to give you something that you richly deserve.
A chance to read some of our books.
Well, that's very nice of you.
Didn't expect gifts tonight, huh? Thank you.
Maybe I can pick up a few pointers.
I'm sure you can.
Could you handle some more? All right.
Here you go.
Oh, and an extra.
That's very nice.
That ought to keep you busy for a while, huh? Anything else, Lieutenant? No, I don't think so.
I think I'd better let you get some sleep.
That's very nice of you.
I just only hope I was of some help.
Oh, you certainly were.
Well, good night Lieutenant.
Good night, sir.
Oh Mr.
Uh Actually, there is one thing.
Not that it makes that much difference.
What is it? When Mrs.
Ferris called you and told you her husband got shot, you jumped in a car and drove right back to L.
, is that right? That's right.
You know, me, I woulda taken a plane.
I mean, it's a big airport and they run every half hour.
It would have been a lot faster.
Well, I, that's true.
Butin a situation like that, who thinks clearly? And look at it this way.
You add up all the time it takes to drive to and from an airport.
How much time do you really save? Operator? Get me the police, please.
Thank you.
Lieutenant Columbo, please.
Yes, thank you.
I'll wait.
Columbo? This is Franklin.
I think you'd better get over here right away.
It's an emergency.
When I got home, there he There it was right in the middle of the lawn.
Terrible thing to come home to.
The funny thing is, I kept hoping, I was sure that Jim was still alive.
Poor Joanna Every time I think of feeling sorry for myself, I think of how much she had to lose.
Look at them.
Lieutenant, you mind if I go inside.
I can't stand to watch themgape.
Mind if I come with you because there's no lining on this coat and it's a bit chilly.
I don't mind.
Hello, yes, this is Mr.
What? No comment.
You got to be kidding.
What, an interview now? The gentlemen of the press.
Afraid you're gonna get a lot of that.
I'm sorry, Lieutenant.
I'm forgetting my manners.
Would you like a drink? Yeahwellmaybe a drop of bourbon.
Boy, this is quite a place.
This a copy? Hardly.
It's an original.
Gee, I thought they only hung this stuff in the museums.
You own this? Mrs.
Melville has been very kind.
Boy, quite a place.
And you got that other place in San Diego.
Gee, the upkeep alone must be I manage to scrape by.
Your drink.
Thank you.
You know, there's one thing about writers I don't understand.
Maybe you can help me clear it up.
If a fella's partner dies, does he own the other fella's half of the books? Half of the uh The Royalties? Yeah.
They go into the deceased's estate.
That leaves you out in the cold, doesn't it? Unless you insured each other? Lieutenant, aren't we going a bit far astray? You're right.
We shouldn't be talking about this now.
It's not the time.
So Mr.
Franklin, tell me.
Why do you think that they left your partner's body out there on the lawn like that? Do you mean to tell me you haven't figured that out? Lieutenant, you disappoint me.
It was left as a warning.
A warning? Of course.
It also proves my theory about it being a professional killing.
See, the moment they dropped Jim's body in the middle of that lawn Please sit down.
You know what they were saying? This could happen to you unless you stop in your partner's research.
They were trying to scare you.
So what are you going to do? Are you going to continue writing the book anyway? No.
That's the irony of it.
You see, that was Jim's pet project, not mine.
I wouldn't even know where to begin.
Say I guess they didn't have any way of knowing you two were going to split up.
No Even if they did, it wouldn't have done Jim any good.
I must say, Lieutenant, you're up against a dead end.
Look at this.
You've got a body, you've got a motive.
But you're never going to find that killer.
It's not going to be easy.
I'll lay you five to one it was someone in Las Vegas or Miami, picked up a phone and put out a contract.
How you're going to make a case, much less solve one, is beyond me.
I guess the only thing I can do is just check out every name on that list.
You know what's going to happen? Every one of those guys is going to deny that Jim even existed? Right.
I must say I don't envy you.
I don't envy myself.
Now look, I got a lot of phone calls to make.
I'd better get on it.
All the luck.
Thanks a lot, Mr.
And listen, I'm very sorry about what happened tonight.
Thank you.
Youuh You will keep me posted, Lieutenant.
Oh, yes.
I will.
You know, there is only one thing that I'm not clear about.
But that can wait.
You want to go to bed.
Lieutenant, I'm not going to get any sleep anyway.
What is it? Would you go over for me once again? I know you did it.
Exactly what happened when you came home tonight? Sure.
I've I've already told you, but The moment I saw Jim's body in the middle of the lawn I came running in here and I picked up the phone and I called you.
I mean it's a purely reflexive action.
Yeah, that's fine.
Wait a minute, you look like you're troubled.
Is there some reason for your question? Ah, it's your mail.
My mail? Isn't it funny how people are different? Now me, if I found my partner dead, I'd never think of opening my letters.
But I just did it to distract myself.
I mean you gotta remember one thing, that's a great shock.
Oh, that's understandable.
And bills are distracting.
Listen, if anything comes up, I'll call you right away.
Good night.
Good night.
I'm going to have a hot-dog.
Oh, I guess I will, too.
Oh, no, Mr.
You put that away.
This one is on me.
May I have a receipt, please? All right, Lieutenant, you're bribing me with a handsome lunch.
What can I do for you? This is about an insurance policy.
Excellent! It's about time you came to me.
I can give you a This is an insurance policy that was already written.
This is official business.
There are two mystery writers, Ken Franklin and James Ferris.
Your company wrote a policy on them? Now wait a minute, Lieutenant.
We like to cooperate with the police, but, if you want confidential information, I'm afraid that you Hold on, look.
I don't want to cause you any trouble.
Maybe it would be more helpful if I got a court order? Oh, Ken, it was simply marvelous.
I was terrified! Oh, really? I had the whole thing figured out by the end of the first act.
You did? I was completely fooled.
You must have a devious mind.
No dear, it's because you're young.
Always remember one thing, my love.
The moment a man mentions a long-lost twin, you can inevitably know that it's going to be some impersonation.
It's an old plot trick.
Franklin! Yoo-hoo! Over here.
Who's that? Someone who should be somewhere else.
Excuse me a moment.
Miss La Sanka! What a pleasant surprise What brings you to the big city? Oh I came in to do a little shopping.
You like my dress? Oh, it's lovely.
See a play.
She's a beauty, Mr.
Yes, she is.
Thank you.
I haven't seen her before, have I? No, I don't believe you have.
Well, it's lovely to see you.
I, ahhope you won't think I'm being forward, but is there any chance of our having a drink together? Oh, I'd love to, really, butah See, the young lady and I are going to have late supper.
I think you might want to cancel it.
Just why would I want to do that? Because we really should have a discussion.
Perhaps some other time.
All right.
I suppose I'll have to find someone else to tell my story to.
It's a mystery story.
Very interesting, really.
It's all about thiswitness Just wait here.
I'll be right back.
Anything you say, Mr.
Oh wow, I just can't resist strawberries.
Glad you like them.
You're making me nervous.
That's quite a stare.
I'm sorry.
I can't help it.
Do you know I've never seen you outside that store before? You're very lovely.
May I call you Lilly? Yes, please do.
How did you enjoy the play, tonight? I thought it was predictable.
You? I like your books much more.
That's very flattering.
But you said something before about your story.
Something about awitness.
Oh, yes.
Well, actually, it's a true-to-life story.
The best kind.
It concerns your partner.
Jim? What about him? Well, I read in the papers about his death and I felt just terrible.
Thank you.
I felt just terrible because they said he was killed in his office.
So they did.
Well in my story, you see, he couldn't have actually been killed in an office.
Because he was somewhere else.
Just for the moment.
Let's forget about your story.
Let's talk about real life.
It is simpler, isn't it? Much.
I'll tell you honestly.
I was very confused when I saw the papers.
Because when you were in my store making a phone call the other day, I wandered over to the side window to see if you had brought a lady with you.
You didn't believe me when I said that I was alone? Oh, I believed you.
It's just that I'm very interested in you, Ken.
Well, anyway, you can imagine my surprise when I saw your partner.
There he was, big as life sitting there in the front seat of your car.
And that disturbed you? Oh, not at the time.
Only later.
And then I debated with myself for days whether to come and see you or not.
Why didn't you go to the police? Oh, Ken I wouldn't want to get you into trouble.
Of course not.
All right, Lilly.
How much? Oh, I hope you don't think that's the only No, noI don't think anything.
I'll tell you something.
I'm most grateful you came to me first.
You know why? 'Cause I think we can reach an equitable agreement.
I do so admire your candor.
This isn't easy for me.
A widow, running a small country store, trying to make ends meet Oh, I can understand that.
And I also recognize in you a woman of some breeding, I mean, you're not just a common blackmailer.
I'm so glad you're understanding.
Very well, Lilly.
How much for your silence? Fifteen thousand dollars? I know it's a lot, but that's all I'll ever ask for.
And I'm a woman of my word.
I know you are, and I respect you for that.
You know what? In that spirit, I accept your terms.
Agreed? Agreed.
And I know you won't take offense when I say it's a pleasure doing business with you.
No, no.
My pleasure.
Yes? Is Mr.
Franklin home? He's occupied at the moment.
Who shall I say is calling? Lieutenant Columbo.
Well won't you come in and wait? He'll be with you shortly.
Only a few more.
Thanks muchly, Mr.
Franklin, I think we're about finished.
If you can bear one or two more photographs.
Fire away.
After all, your magazine was very kind to Franklin and Ferris during our lean years.
That's the second reason I granted the interview.
Oh, what was the first? Why, the charm of the interviewer, of course.
Yes, Lieutenant.
Is there something I can do for you? Oh, yeahifif you have a moment.
That's about all I do have.
As soon as I finish here, I'll be right with you.
Is there anything else? Miss May I call you Gloria? Please do.
Ahjust one last question.
I think our readers will want to know how the death of your partner will affect the Mrs.
Melville books.
I'm afraid when I buried Jim, I buried Mrs.
Melville with him.
I understand.
But everyone will miss her so.
Can't you write another one? Oh, I could, naturally, but what's the point? With Jim gone, there wouldn't be much reason.
No, I'm afraid Mrs.
Melville has solved her last case.
Actually, I've been seriously debating as to whether I'll ever want to write again.
Oh well, I hope you do.
Thank you, that's very kind of you.
Now, if you don't mind Of course.
Let's go, Harvey.
Perhaps under better circumstances, less harassed circumstances, I could give you a more detailed interview.
Even in more depth That will be nice.
Shall I call you? Yes, please do.
Next week, huh? Goodbye.
Oh, sorry Harvey.
Thank you.
Thanks very much.
All right, Lieutenant, what can I do for you? Well, I brought back your books.
That's fine.
Just put them over there on the table.
I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed 'em.
I think they're the most terrific Boy, I want to And oh listen, I'll come back, I'll make two trips on this.
But the lady detective.
What a character! What a brain! And what logic, the way she figures it out! Lieutenant, I'd love to sit down and discuss literature with you, But I was on my way out.
Oh, I'm sorry.
I didn't mean to bother you.
You're going some place special? Yes, as a matter of fact, I'm on my way down to my cabin for a rest.
Would you like an itinerary? Hey, I'm sorry.
I'm making a pest of myself.
No Yes, yes, I am.
I know it's because I keep asking these questions.
But I'll tell you.
I can't help myself.
It's a habit.
I take it you're not going alone.
Whatever gave you that idea? I noticed the two bottles of champagne Oh, those.
I'm quite capable of drinking those two bottles, and a good deal more without any help.
Now if you'll excuse me, Lieutenant.
Yeah, listen.
Unless you just want to take a second to know how we're progressing on your partner's list.
Oh? Anything concrete? No, not a thing.
Just like you predicted.
Everyone said they never even heard of James Ferris.
That's just as I expected.
Well it was lovely to chat with you, Lieutenant.
Franklin Yeah? Do you have a minute? Is it important? Well, it could be.
You see, I was checking the phone company records in San Diego.
Why would you want to do that, Lieutenant? I have to do that.
You know, that's part of my job.
I gotta tie up all those loose ends.
Anyway, on the day of murder, there was a record of a call from the cabin.
It was a call to the Ferris house in Los Angeles.
I see.
And now you're wondering whether I can explain that.
Is that right? Oh, I'm sure you can.
Oh, you're right, I can.
But you see you would have saved both you and me a great deal of trouble if you had checked with Joanna Ferris first.
She would have explained to you that I had spoken to her from my cabin, telling her that Jim and I had patched up our differences.
What do you mean by differences? Well, you see, ironing out any difficulties in a separation is never easy.
I knew Joanna would be concerned.
I wanted to put her mind at ease.
Can you understand that? Oh yes, yeah.
That's understandable.
Is that all? Yes.
That's all.
Listenuh Enjoy your trip.
Thanks very much.
And drive carefully.
Don't worry, Lieutenant.
You can count on it.
And here you are.
Bearing gifts.
And more gifts.
Why, Mr.
Franklin, how lovely.
Yes, of course.
Now Lilly, let me ask you a simple question.
Are you up to making a nice quiet dinner for two tonight? Here's to prosperity.
And romance.
The daily double.
I must say, Lilly, that was a magnificent meal.
Where did you learn to cook so well? My late husband, may he rest in peace, was a professional chef.
Wonderful man.
He taught me all I know.
Well, he taught you well.
Thank you, sir.
Refill? Oh, sorry.
Oh! We're all out.
Let's open another one.
Dare we? Dare we not? Here we gohappy new year.
Quick, your glass! Delicious.
But I'm afraid I'm getting a little tipsy.
What's wrong with that? I don't know if I can trust you.
Now is there any reason not to? Lilly, if I make you uncomfortable, I can always leave.
No, please I do enjoy your company.
You know what we should do? What? It's such a beautiful night we should row out to the center of the lake and go for swim.
Mmmmsounds nice.
It is nice.
Shall we? Better not.
Why not? I trust you, Ken.
But we all have our dark sides, don't we? It just wouldn't be very intelligent of me to be alone with you in a small boat.
After all, you might start having second thoughts about the money.
I wish you hadn't said that, Lilly.
That kind of talk hurts me deeply.
I'm going to tell you something and I shouldn't.
But I'll tell you why because I trust you.
I was prepared to give you considerably more than you asked for.
Fifteen thousand, I mean I've lost that much gambling in one night.
Well, it certainly is a great deal of money to me.
What do you think you'll do with all of it? I don't knowput it in the bank, I guess.
But not right away.
I just want to look at it for a while.
Better be careful.
Someone might rob you.
I'll just keep it for a day or two.
I've never seen so much money in my life.
Uh maybeMaybe you could take a trip somewhere? I may.
I've always wanted to go on a cruise.
Oh cruises.
So romantic.
Did I tell you that my late husband was in the merchant marines? Is that a fact? They're the ones who taught him how to cook.
I almost wish he were here now.
He could share this with me.
Wellmaybe we can do the next best thing.
Who did you say it is? One of the cops said it was a local woman.
Some kinda drowning.
Well, Lieutenant Columbo! I must say you turn up at the oddest times, don't you? Listen, I hope you don't mind my coming in that way, you know.
But the door was open and I just let myself in.
No, no, no.
How did you get here, by magic carpet? I didn't see your car outside.
Oh no, I pulled around back and I put it in the shade.
The sun raises hell with the paint.
Oh, sensible.
What brings you up here to the wilds? Well, I'll tell you.
I heard you and Mrs.
Ferris talk so much about this place.
And you made it sound so terrific, and believe me, you weren't exaggerating, because this is magnificent.
And since I got a two-week vacation coming up, I said to myself go on down there, check out the area, look to see maybe you can rent a cabin.
Lieutenant, you're not going to tell me you drove down here just to look for a vacation spot, are you? Why else would I come? You're wasting your time.
I have a feeling the cabins in this neck of the woods are pretty much out of your price range, anyway.
Most of them are rented for the season.
Oh, gee, whiz thatThat's too bad.
Gosh my wife is going to be disappointed.
Well, it was a nice ride anyhow.
Yes, a lovely drive.
Except for that bottleneck down the road.
What was that all about? Oh there was a drowning.
Oh, what was it, a fisherman? Well, I heard someone say it was a local woman.
Ah Miss La Sanka, or something? Something like that, yeah.
Did you know her? Not really.
I was just wondering because when I was in the kitchen before, I noticed a grocery box with her name on it.
I occasionally buy supplies there.
Sure, like anyone else who lives around here.
I think she was the one that drowned.
Yeah, because I stopped by the grocery store on the way here to pick up some cigars and I noticed it was closed and cops' cars around.
Well, if it was her, I'd be very sorry.
She was always very friendly.
Yeah, that's a shame.
Oh? You did know her.
Lieutenant, I know a lot of people without really knowing them.
You know, like barbers, waitresses, parking lot attendants.
Even the cop on the beat, don't you? Yeah, I do, as a matter of fact.
I tell you people are strange, you though know.
I can't figure 'em out.
Why a woman goes out on a lake all by herself before the light comes up.
Oh, there's nothing unusual about that.
A lot of us go out early.
It's peaceful and it kind of makes you feel like you're plugged into nature.
You know what I mean? Yeah, yeah.
Well, say, listen, look, you came down here to get away from things, and I'm just taking up your time.
I didn't mean to bother you.
No, no, no.
It's no bother at all.
Say I'd be more than glad to let you have a bathing suit, but you don't look like you're the athletic type to me.
Well, it'suhmy wife that's the athlete.
So you don't think I'm going to be able to find a cabin to rent, huh? Best bet is to go down and check with some of the local real estate people.
Because I think it would be fun to be neighbors for a couple of weeks, huh? Yeah.
Say, what kind of night life do you have around here? Night life? None.
No partying? Just sleep and crickets.
I was just wondering because, you know, I didn't want to barge in on you today unannounced.
I don't follow you.
Well, last night I called to tell you that I was coming but there was no one at home.
You a reporter? Nouh.
Lieutenant Columbo.
LAPD? What brings you down here, Lieutenant? Well, I'm working on a case.
Listen, this is not really my jurisdiction, but you mind if I browse around? Help yourself, Lieutenant.
Always glad to cooperate.
didn't she have a bruise on her head? How'd you know that, Ben? Come on, Sergeant, Doc Webster told us.
All right, so there was a bruise.
Probably a result of the boat capsizing and rendering her unconscious.
Any indication the lady was under the influence? I can't ascertain that until we see an autopsy report.
The doctor's working on that right now.
Sounds like drinking to me.
Could she swim? How in the world would I know a thing like that? Any living relatives? I don't think so.
Somebody said she was a widow.
What about the row boat? Row boat? What about it? Who did it belong to? Where'd it come from? It belonged to the deceased.
I've got witnesses Think she wanted some fresh air last night? This is all conjecture, gentlemen.
I mean there's no way of telling.
Maybe she did.
Who knows? It's also possible that she had a heart seizure, or she got dizzy.
Then you think it was an accident? I certainly don't think it was foul play.
You're going to be in your office this afternoon? Absolutely.
How long was she in the water, Sergeant? Oh, I don't know.
We'll wait till we get the report.
We're starting to cover the same old ground here, gentlemen.
Now why don't you meet me in my office an hour from now.
But we got some more questions.
I'd like to I'll answer 'em all then, I'll have the reports.
And I'll be able to give you a lot more information.
OK, Sarge.
Thank you.
To my Lilly Love always, Ken I still don't know what this means.
It means that he knew her.
It means that he knew her not casually, the way he said.
It means that he knew her reasonably well.
All right.
You've got a romantic inscription in a book and a champagne cork.
Now what does that prove? By itself, it doesn't prove anything.
But once you assume that Franklin committed these crimes, everything fits together.
I just can't believe it.
I've known Ken too long.
He's not a murderer.
Ferris, it wouldn't make any difference, if you knew him for a hundred years, that wouldn't change anything.
This man, Franklin, took your husband's life.
Do you have a match? Help yourself.
I don't smoke.
It doesn't make sense, Lieutenant.
Ken has an alibi.
What's his motive? I told you how he coulda worked the phone.
Now his motive is the insurance money.
He needed cash.
He spent money like a drunken sailor, he had two houses, he's got paintings, he's got women, he's got What? "Jack and Jill went up the hill.
" "Did Jack kill Jill?" "If so, find out why.
" Jim.
One of his story ideas.
If Ken killed my husband, then why did he murder Miss La Sanka? Well it's my hunch that she knew something.
Maybe she saw them together and she tried to blackmail him.
That's pure guesswork, isn't it? No, ma'am, it's not.
Not quite.
I checked the bank.
Yesterday he took out fifteen thousand dollars.
Today he put it back in again.
Now why in the world would he do that? All right.
I'm still not convinced, but let's say I'll go along.
What happens now? I don't know.
But I've got a pretty strong circumstantial case, it's just not enough.
If I had one piece of hard evidence, I could nail this fella.
But you don't.
That's right, ma'am.
I don't.
That's why I'm here.
Maybe you can give it to me.
Me? You knew both of these fellas very well.
I want you to tell me about them.
Anything Just talk.
Whatever comes into your mind.
Kind of like analysis without the couch.
Would you like a little coffee first? That would be fine.
I don't know what you're looking for, but here goes.
They met in a typewriter shop of all places.
Jim had broken a key and Ken needed a ribbon.
Does that help? Keep going.
Well, I've told you a lot about Jim.
He was brilliant, really.
He'd wake up in the middle of the night with ideas.
Always throwing off sparks.
I remember he even did it on our honeymoon.
Funny thing is, Ken didn't even talk about the books, unless he was on television.
This the truck, that's gonna move my stuff out of suite 803? Yeah.
Almost finished? Haven't started.
What do you mean you haven't started? I'm only the driver, mister.
Ask the other two guys.
They've been in there a half an hour already.
A half hour? Columbo! Hi, Mr.
Just finishing up this last Melville mystery.
I didn't get a chance the other day.
All right, now what are you doing here? Waiting for you.
I happened to be in the neighborhood and You're always in the neighborhood.
You tell me what right you've got to kick those movers out of this office? Oh, listen.
I'm sorry about that.
It's just You know what I thought, I thought you and I should talk alone.
You and I have nothing to talk about.
Yes, we do, Mr.
We have something to talk about.
I'm here to arrest you for the murder of your partner.
What? Now it's my duty to inform you of your constitutional rights Oh will you cut that drivel.
I've written that stuff so many times I know it by heart.
What is this nonsense? Your going to arrest me? Come on, Mr.
Why don't you make a statement and save us both a lot of trouble? You know, I've really got you.
All right, Lieutenant, you got me.
I'm your prisoner.
Here, clamp the irons on me.
Do you wanna give me a dime first, so I can phone my attorney because I promise you I'm going to sue you and your department for false arrest, and defamation of character.
I kinda knew it right from the start.
It was nothing definite, it was a lotta little things.
Little things.
Driving back from San Diego, on the day of the murder instead of taking a plane.
The open mail.
Never showing any genuine emotion for a man that you worked with for ten years.
With that? You know what they're going to do? They're going to laugh you right out of court.
They're not going to laugh at the insurance policy, are they? I've got a photostatic copy of it here in my pocket.
They're going to laugh at the fact that you withdrew fifteen thousand dollars and put it back the next day? I've got the book that you gave to Miss La Sanka, with your signature in it.
You expect to get a true bill of indictment on that trivia? Come on, Lieutenant, I was down in San Diego.
So was your partner.
That's a provocative statement.
Can you prove that? Yes.
Not with the witness, because you killed the witness.
But I've got another way to prove it.
Will you enlighten me? I must say, I enjoy watching a man raise without any cards in his hand.
You know what, Ken.
I'm going to tell you the truth.
For a while there I never thought I was going to get you, believe me.
You had me going in such circles.
I couldn't figure it out.
Suddenly, I thought of something.
How clever that first murder was.
The phone gimmick, working late in the office.
Are you awarding gold medals today? Yes.
For the first one.
Not for the second one, that was sloppy.
Melville, she would've been very disappointed.
Oh, come on, get to the climax, Lieutenant.
You're talking to a writer.
Am I? That's not what I heard.
And that's the key, that you're not a writer.
When Mrs.
Ferris told me that you didn't contribute to the writing, that her husband did all the work That's a lie.
I had to say to myself, how could a man with no talent for mysteries make up such a clever murder? If you were that ingenious, you'd be able to write your own books.
Go ahead, I'm fascinated, as boring as it may be.
Then I got it.
The first one, the clever one, that wasn't yours.
The second one, the sloppy one, that was yours.
But not the first.
And whose idea was that then? Your partner's.
Hadda be.
And his wife told me how conscientious he was.
You know, the way he used to write down his ideas on every odd scrap of paper, backs of matches.
Aah, so that's why you wouldn't let the movers in.
Well, I had to rummage around here before they emptied everything out.
Is this your partner's handwriting? Well, I think I can prove it is.
Maybe I ought to read this to you.
"Idea for a Melville book.
Perfect alibi.
" "A wants to kill B.
" "Drives B to a remote house and has him call his wife in city" "tells her he's working late at the office.
" "Bang, bang.
" Sound familiar? That's the part you used, practically word for word.
Should I read some more? No Officer.
With this I think I got a conviction.
Don't you? You gotta admit I had you going for a while though, didn't I? Yes you did.
You want to know the irony of all this? That is my idea.
The only really good one I ever had.
I must've told it to Jim over five years ago.
Who ever thought that idiot would write it down?