Columbo (1971) s08e02 Episode Script

Murder, Smoke and Shadows

You okay, Alex? If I was any better, I'd be unbearable.
What do we got, Stanley? Three-dimensional magic.
Show me.
Lights, maestro.
Set? Yep.
Hit it.
Ruthie? She volunteered.
Well, she's a volunteering kind of girl.
Okay, pan the projector.
About 20 degrees off axis, and there she goes.
Well, I guess we're not ready to thrill the audience with Ruth Jernigan in holographic glorious 3-D.
Stan, go in there and look nice for me.
Okay, now act for me, Stan.
It's windy.
It's cold, it's windy.
A big storm coming.
Lightning! Good thing you're not an actor, Stan.
All right, babes, that's enough.
and as we move around the corner, on our right you'll see our own house of magic, where our directors truly make the impossible come true.
The special effects building.
We just might pop in there later on, and continue this tour all the way to Mars.
Oh, and coming out over there right on cue for us, ladies and gentlemen, that fellow there is the master of special effects.
That's the young man who's made more super hits than any director in Hollywood history, Alex Brady.
And here he comes, riding on his little cart.
Hi, Alex! Next, we'll go around the corner and come to our Western town.
Actually, it's more like six Western towns all rolled into one.
The reason we bring all the streets together here is Alex? Alex? Lennie.
Lennie! You come to town, you don't call, you don't let me know? Huh? How are you? Oh, God! Wait a minute, you did call, about two days ago.
My secretary said you were on the phone.
I picked it up and you weren't there.
What, are you playing tricks? Well, I just wanted to see if you'd be here.
I guess I was a little nervous.
What are you nervous about? Let me look at you! You look great.
Took off a few.
So what are you doing in town? Are you still living in Albany? Oh, yeah, still Albany.
Still working in the men's store.
Oh, boy.
You know, I figured you'd have an office like this.
Office? This isn't my office, this is just a little goof-off place, you know? Yeah, talented Alex.
Smart, smart Alex.
Still just one of the fellows.
The three of us goofing around old L.
You and me and Buddy Coates.
So, what are you doing in town? How long you gonna be here for? Well, just a day.
Yeah, I ducked my job for the day.
In this morning, out tonight.
Oh, quick trip? Oh, yeah.
Took that studio tour.
Sort of jumped ship when I saw you.
Can I see That's nothing, just some special effects we're building here.
Come on.
Look at that.
Hmm? Poor Buddy's dead.
Buddy Coates? Mmm.
How? It was last week.
I'd see him once in a while.
Yeah, we were a hard luck bunch, hmm? First my sister Jenny, and then Buddy.
Jenny was a long time ago.
Not so long.
A year behind us in school, right? Right after you had your good luck with Mr.
He gave you your first job.
Hey, come on.
We'll drink a soda to Buddy.
What was his favorite? Chocolate.
I got chocolate.
Can we drink to Jenny, too? Sure.
Sure, ice cream sodas all around.
Sit down.
Do you remember how we were helping you with that little amateur film of yours? You know, to finish it up? I was working at the market that Sunday, keeping up the payments on my motorcycle.
You wanted Jenny to ride it in the picture, and she was scared of it.
I said, "No way.
" We dropped the whole thing.
And you and Buddy, your second cameraman Remember how you got him hooked on film there for a while? Yeah.
Buddy should've stayed with it.
Yeah, well, there's you and Buddy, and you're waiting for her to show up at the location, but she never got there.
That accident with the cycle.
She's bleeding to death until somebody finds her.
Too late for the paramedics.
She dies in the ambulance.
Hey, come on.
Come on, Lennie.
Don't lacerate yourself.
"Lacerate"? Oh, yeah.
You always knew just the right word.
To Buddy.
To Jenny.
You know, last day with Buddy, he gave me a package.
He asked me not to look at it until he was no longer with us.
And it was a It was a little reel of 16-millimeter film, you know, like you used to use.
So, I had it made up bigger, into 35-millimeter, kind of like you use now.
Can we see it on that thing? Sure.
I, uh, think she got there all right, Alex.
Yeah, she got to you, and to Buddy, and to your film.
There was no accident along the way.
Your stunt went out of control.
She was bleeding to death, and you You left her.
You just left her there, you didn't try to help.
You ran away, and you left her to die.
Alex, was that because of Mr.
Marosco? Because you were afraid your wonderful new good luck would run out if he ever found out what you did to her? 'Cause I tell you, I choked on it, Alex.
I I couldn't tell anyone, not until I could face you.
Lennie And I'm glad that you're such a terrific success.
That I am.
I'm glad you got everything you got, because I'm gonna turn it all into garbage.
You bastard, Alex, I'll I'll ram that picture into every scandal sheet and every newspaper.
Okay? I'll see I'll see that film on every On every TV news show, until you choke on it, too.
It isn't true, Lennie No! And the cops, and the prosecutors.
Okay? Until you climb into your grave like it's someone in one of your new fancy sports cars, Alex! That's what I came here to tell you! Len, it isn't real! I don't know what Buddy was doing.
When did he start playing tricks with film? What? It's a fake! A phony! Look, it's It's all tricked out.
What was he, jealous? What, was he crazy because I made a life and he didn't? Huh? Look.
Look at it, Len.
You see? Look, you can It's You can see the matte line.
It's not even real here.
It's not even one piece of film.
Any technician could read that.
Look at the generational grain! Alex, look, I don't see anything.
I'll show it to you.
Give me the film No.
No! Hey, hey, hey.
Hey, Lennie, Lennie.
Lennie! Lennie, for God's sake, we were friends.
What is Buddy trying to do to us, hmm? Look, sit down, relax.
Do you Do you really think I could have done this to Jenny? Hmm? All right, I'll tell you what.
Give me a few hours.
You wait here for me.
I gotta go get some other equipment together, other experts.
And then I'll show you it's a fake.
And then you'll understand whatever there is to understand about poor Buddy.
All right? Just Just give me a few hours.
Alex, I'm I'm keeping the film.
Fine, fine, fine.
And I got a plane at 11:00, okay? I gotta be in the store tomorrow.
I will put you on that plane myself, I promise.
And you'll give me a hug goodbye.
In the meantime, just make yourself comfortable.
Everything you need is here.
Hey, Lennie, Lennie, Lennie, trust me.
Hello, Rose.
You're fired.
Excuse me, Alex? I said, it's time to go home, Rose.
Thanks for a great day.
Say it again.
Why? I like to hear it.
Marosco called you twice.
He's anxious to talk with you.
Tell him tomorrow.
I haven't got time now.
What's this call here? Oh, he's that nice production manager you used to work with.
You called him "The Professor.
" I said you'd call him back.
Rose, couldn't you have told him something else? Should I have told him he's too old, Alex? Hey, give me a break, huh? Alex, Ruth Jernigan is waiting for you.
How long? Not long.
Ten minutes.
And Phil Crossette is here.
Ah, Phil.
I won't keep you a minute, Mr.
That little job I did for you the other day, everything work out all right? Yeah, Phil, fine.
Yeah? Was the performance okay? The performance was very good.
We get the next picture rolling, I'll show you my appreciation.
Well, you know, there is no part that is too small.
I mean, anything I can do to help you out, maestro, huh? Okay.
Thank you, huh? Good night.
Good night, Phil.
I've been posing here for you.
You wanna try for laughs? Try a little kick with your upstage foot.
How's that for laughs? I could use a lot of that, Ruthie.
You used to use a lot of that, before I went to work as your leading lady.
And while you were working, I seem to have heard something how you went and got yourself a new boyfriend.
Just a couple of playful actors, and right on my very own picture.
Maybe the movie was our trouble, Herr Doktor Direktor.
I seem to have slipped your mind.
Just your actress while you made your very own picture.
Can I confess, Alex? Even murderers are allowed to confess.
I've gotta do something about you and me, babe.
Now? Now I've got other things to think about.
Well, slip me in when you can.
"Exit pursued by a bear.
" Shakespeare wrote that.
Davy, this is Alex Brady.
I need a wet-down on Brownstone.
In about an hour.
I'm not running a debate here, Davy.
Just find your man and do it.
Thanks for waiting.
What was I gonna do, go dancing? You got the film? Good.
Come on, they're waiting for us.
We just got one stop to make.
I don't believe this, Alex.
I know.
You will.
Brownstone Street.
What for? Why did you bring me here? To see this street.
This is where we make movies.
Shadows on the handy-dandy screen.
This is where we kid you with illusion.
This is where we blow your reality, Lennie! This is where I kill you, Lennie.
Hey! Come on! Come on! We could never hurt each other, you and me.
The film, it's the truth, isn't it? What the hell do you know about truth? What's shadow? What's substance? They teach you about that in the men's store, Lennie? You're crazy! Better run, Lennie! Escape, escape! You know, Len, that film You hurt me, old friend.
You hurt an old friend.
And that hurts me right here.
Hey, it's all an act! Don't you know an act? I'm acting for you! Here we go, Len! Illusion all the way.
Into the maelstrom.
"Into the Valley of Death rode the six hundred.
" It's all fake, Len.
There's no valley.
There's no gallant six hundred.
Death is the only part that's real.
Who's the real illusion, Len? You or me? Which one of us is going to die? Everything okay, Alex? Everything's peachy keen.
Good night, Scotty.
Good night, sir.
Excuse me! Excuse me! I'm sorry, I guess one of us must be in the wrong place.
Oh, that will be me, Mr.
I certainly know who you are.
I'm sorry, but in this whole studio, this whole wonderful place, this was the treasure that caught my eye.
This certainly is a beauty.
I'm with the police, sir.
Lieutenant Columbo.
Miss Walker, your secretary, sir, she told me to wait here while she tried to find you.
How did you know? Know what, sir? You are the answer to a filmmaker's prayers.
In my business, the film business, we're always working with the same people, over and over, and we never, hardly ever, break out of our own self-centered little circle.
But to meet somebody wonderfully new, an authentic plumber, a real chemist, or praise God, a homicide lieutenant! You know, it's funny, I've been thinking about making a detective movie.
You know, I would like to take this straw and stick it in your ear, and extract everything you've ever thought or felt or seen, or even dreamed about your profession.
And I bless whatever it is that brought you here to me! Oh, here, sit down, Lieutenant, please sit down.
I'm interested to hear anything you wanna tell me.
Well, Mr.
Brady, that is as fine a greeting as I've ever received.
Mostly, when a policeman shows up, people right away, they get all guarded and queasy.
But you, sir, you certainly made me feel very warm and welcome.
What I came to see you about, sir, that's about an unidentified body on the beach.
What they call a John Doe.
Uh Do you mind if I stand, sir? Sure, Lieutenant.
Let me help.
Here, why don't we try it over here? So what's with this John Doe at the beach? Identity unknown, sir.
An unidentified body found at the beach early this morning.
Wait, try this for comfort, Lieutenant.
Try stretching out on it.
It's a water bed.
You know, I've never tried one of these.
My wife, that's Mrs.
Columbo, she tried to get me interested.
Well? How do you like it? Well, to tell you the truth sir, it feels all swimmy.
Makes me wonder what Mrs.
Columbo had in mind.
I know how strange it is, sir, my coming to you about this John Doe, but if you'll just bear with me.
You see, the victim's face, Mr.
Brady Uh I hate to say it right out like this, but he had no face.
Like he was struck by a heavy blow, like from a hammer.
And his death by electrocution, sir I'd say about your age.
Electrocuted by a very high voltage.
Oh, blew out his whole nervous system.
Well, I'm afraid not, sir.
You see, the weather boys, they say rain but no lightning.
High tension lines at the beach? Oh, that certainly would help explain it, sir, but no electricity near the body, no electricity at all.
This is Is a really very interesting bed, and, uh, I certainly enjoyed the experience.
And we can't even get any fingerprints.
Hands all burned.
Like he was grabbing on to something when it happened.
And his pockets, empty.
All turned out and empty, sir.
So you see, we got a very real problem here: How to identify him, sir, how to give him a name, and a life.
Then maybe we could deal with how he died.
Which brings me to you, sir, and this.
The Films of Alex Brady.
We found it near the body, up on the road.
Maybe somebody dropped it, or maybe it fell from the victim's pocket, like if somebody was carrying the body, like from a car.
Or maybe it had nothing whatsoever to do with the murder.
So you think it was murder? Well, I expect it was something like murder.
It would have been a very strange electrocution if the victim got up and turned his pockets out, and then took hisself to the beach and hit hisself in the face, if you get my drift, sir.
I get your drift, Lieutenant.
But what I don't understand is how I can help you.
I mean, there must be thousands of copies of that book all over the world.
I even have one myself.
See? Well, it's not just the book, Mr.
Brady, it's what's inside this book.
Inside the cover.
Over by the light, please? It's damp from the rain, but you can still read it.
Written in pencil.
It's the telephone number of the studio, with the area code.
Do you see that, sir? Yes, I see that.
And written under the studio number, the telephone number of your office, Mr.
Your direct-dial number, if somebody wants to reach you without going through the switchboard.
Do you see it? It's like somebody had found out your number, then written it here so that they could call you.
Yeah, that's That's clear enough, Lieutenant.
Did somebody call you? You mean somebody without a face, electrocuted, whose name we don't know? Well, now that you put it that way, it's not much of a question, is it? But we wouldn't be doing our jobs if we didn't check out every little detail.
Any kind of a strange call at all, sir? Maybe somebody you didn't even know? Yes.
Yes? Lots of calls from the unknown.
Books like that are mostly published for amateurs, Lieutenant.
Film buffs, dreamers, people living their lives through some filmmaker they think they understand, or who might even understand them.
Some of them have a crazy idea for a movie, others have even scratched down a script, but most of them are just enthusiastically fantasizing.
And they call.
Where did I begin? How did I get started? How can they get started? "Tell me the secret.
Show me the way.
" And they're sweet, or desperate, or sad, and they do call me and everybody else in our line of work.
I'm sorry, Lieutenant.
I guess I'm just no help.
No help at all.
Well, sir, I can't say I'm surprised, and now I'll be running along.
Good day, ma'am.
You can almost reach out and touch her.
Would you like to? That's holographic film.
Guaranteed three-dimensional.
But it's just a piece of film, sir.
Oh, Lieutenant! We could say that about everything we do around here.
"Just a piece of film.
" But is the film real? Well, the film is real, but the pictures that are on the film The images, are they any less real? No, no, no, Mr.
You're gonna run circles around me if we go on like this.
I'm afraid I've taken up enough of your time, so I'm just gonna say thank you very, very much, and I won't be troubling you again.
No trouble at all, Lieutenant.
No trouble at all.
Take care.
Excuse me, sir, just one more thing.
Were you serious about making a detective movie based on a character like me? Are you gonna help me, Lieutenant? Well, that's the problem.
And don't get me wrong, I would be thrilled.
But I gotta be honest with you, sir, the kind of work I do, I don't think it's as interesting as you think it is.
It's just not exciting, Mr.
It's not like in the movies.
I mean, the things that I work with, I don't think that they would be interesting to an audience.
But if I'm wrong, you correct me.
But, for instance, take these ice cream soda glasses.
If I'm on a homicide case, sir, forgive me, and I had to work with these glasses, well, then I have to find these two glasses interesting.
But you, sir, for your movie, you can't No, I'm already interested, Lieutenant.
Well, then I'd have to say that you used all this recently.
Two ice cream soda glasses, straws, spoons I'd say chocolate, sir.
Chocolate syrup and vanilla ice cream.
What we used to call a black and white.
And the way the cream has hardened along the rim, I'd say maybe this morning, but you wouldn't use ice cream in the morning, so I'd say maybe sometime yesterday.
So if I was gonna try to make it even more interesting for you, sir, I'd have to say the two of you were enjoying two black and white ice cream sodas.
But not really enjoying them, because one is hardly touched, and the other one is only half-finished.
So you might have been interrupted, or maybe the two of you were very busy together, or maybe something upset the both of you, and you just left them there.
As to who that other person might have been, I'd say it's probably a man.
No lipstick marks.
And as for the rest, Mr.
Brady, well, we'd have to go to the fingerprints.
But I don't think we have to go that far, sir.
I told you, you're gonna be disappointed.
Disappointed? Are you kidding, Lieutenant? Why, that's not only interesting, that is fascinating, Lieutenant.
Well, I think you're just being kind.
But I really have to run now, sir.
I'll try not to keep you, Lieutenant.
Take care, now.
Was I right, sir? About the soda glasses? Close enough, Lieutenant.
Ma'am? I'm standing here with a printout in my hand.
I got charges in black and white.
Ma'am? No chance, Cecil.
He wouldn't order it without telling me.
He should have told me before he ordered it, but he would have told me after.
I said if he didn't tell me before.
Well, if you have to put something in your computer, I can't think of a better place to insert it.
Are you an inspector? Uh, no, ma'am, just a lieutenant.
They don't have inspectors anymore.
I wanted to thank you, ma'am.
Brady and I, we did find each other in his secret hangout.
You mean the Boys' Club.
The Boys' Club for one boy.
If you were an inspector, you could help me inspect this desk.
I'm looking for a ten-ton water truck.
On your desk, ma'am? A note or something.
They claim he ordered a water truck to wet down the brownstone street last night.
And now their wacko computer is charging our wacko computer, and that is some wacko system.
Why would he order a water truck? We don't even shoot for another six months.
I'm sure I wouldn't know, ma'am.
He's very young, Mr.
Brady, isn't he? The whole damn business is very young, Inspector.
Uh, Lieutenant, ma'am.
When I was a young policeman, the inspectors Is this a weather report? Help yourself.
Picture-makers live and die by the weather.
I always like to check to see if I'm really gonna need my raincoat.
You know, as I was saying, ma'am, when I was a young policeman, the inspectors, they all seemed very old.
When I was a young secretary, all the great directors and producers seemed very old.
Now that I'm an old secretary, they got very young.
Film children.
They know every foot of film ever shot, but they think the most important date in the history of the world is their own birthday.
Is there anything more I can do for you? Well, I was just wondering, ma'am, all those fans of Mr.
Brady, those people who read his books on film and all, when they call for him here, do you keep a list of those phone calls? No.
Just the business and personal ones.
If we did, we'd need another computer instead of a clipboard.
Well, that would have been some job, looking through all those names.
What am I talking about? I wouldn't even know what name I'd be looking for! Well, thank you very much, Miss Walker.
Goodbye, Inspector.
Lieutenant, ma'am.
You're like an agent, you read upside down.
What are you finding on my desk? Secrets, Mr.
Just the secrets you keep from me.
Got a problem, my boy.
The board.
They're all over me about a hit for Easter, and they want your picture.
Easter, not summer.
Oh, gee, no chance, Mr.
I can't do it that fast.
It's not the board that's asking, Alex, it's me.
We're not exactly strangers, Alex.
I hope we respect each other.
I mean, maybe more than respect.
So can we have it? Can I have it by Easter? When do they have to know? I have to know today.
I got a board meeting.
Just tell them I'm obstinate.
Wacko, like old Rosie says.
That way, they can't do anything.
Just say you can't do anything with me.
That way, we're both covered.
Blame me.
What are they gonna do to you? They can't lay a glove on you.
This is for you.
You're a generous young man, Alex.
Look, I gotta get back to work, Mr.
Hey, you know how to handle them, boss.
You always did.
Here's his belt, Lieutenant.
Oh! His belt! Just an ordinary belt? Yeah, it's ordinary.
Ordinary belt.
When do I get to open my eyes? When I say so.
Oh, who was that man in your office last night? What man? Oh, that guy.
He's Phil Crossette.
Yeah, who is he? Oh, he's just a friend of mine.
I think I've seen him before.
It could be.
He's an actor.
He's a bit player.
You might've seen him around a lot.
No, I don't mean like that.
I think I've seen him someplace real.
What comes after Saturday? Sunday.
Okay, you can open your eyes.
Oh, Alex.
Oh, Ruthie.
So, you ever gonna find true love, Andy Hardy? I thought I finally did.
No fair.
So tell me about your actor.
He's your actor.
Your movie.
And I was drowning.
I was scared stiff of working for you.
And I was wigwagging all over the place.
You know, "Help me.
Hold me.
Kiss me.
Save me.
" But you were too busy counting your, uh, sprocket holes.
The picture hadn't even started yet when I met Brian.
I met him by accident, my leading-man-to-be, and then, uh, we had a punishing love affair.
Who got punished? It was supposed to be you.
Worked out it was me.
So, did you miss me? I mean on balance.
How much? How much do you want? Just bat your eyelashes.
I'll be right back.
It's been a splendid day, sir.
It's been a terrific day.
Very good news.
I thought you might be interested in sharing it with me.
Lieutenant Columbo.
Come on in.
Lieutenant, this is my friend, Ruth Jernigan.
Ruth Jernigan, Lieutenant Columbo.
I've been hearing about you, Lieutenant.
Well, I've certainly heard a lot about you, Miss Jernigan, about your movies.
It's a very great pleasure.
I hope I'm not intruding.
Not at all.
I'm sure you and Alex have important business.
Well, it is important, ma'am.
Remember me, kiddo.
Night, Lieutenant.
So, is our business important, Lieutenant? Well, I'm gonna leave that up to you, Mr.
I brought you some terrific news.
Ah, about our John Doe.
Well, he's not a John Doe anymore.
We know exactly who he is.
In one day, Lieutenant? I told you, it's been a terrific day.
He was wearing this.
His belt? His belt, sir.
What do you think of that belt? You're thinking that's not a very interesting item to use in a movie.
But suppose I show you this, sir.
This fold on the inside of the belt.
Does that help give me your attention, sir? You have my attention, Lieutenant.
And the zipper, sir, underneath the flap.
Do you see that zipper? That's what tells us this is a money belt.
People take trips, and sometimes they hide money in a belt like this, in a secret compartment.
Are you interested yet, sir? I mean, for something you might use in your movie.
We're not making a movie, Lieutenant, so why don't we just stick to our John Doe and his remarkable belt? Would you just open the zipper, sir? You see, there's a secret pocket there.
Why don't we see what's in the pocket? That is, if you're still interested, sir.
It seems to be a traveler's check.
That's exactly what it is.
The victim was a very careful man.
He hid a traveler's check in his money belt.
A $100 traveler's check.
You see that, sir? And these numbers that are printed here, would your audience find these numbers exciting, sir? Because to a detective, these numbers Well, they're thrilling.
When I look at them, I don't see numbers.
I see a neon sign blinking a name and address, because these special numbers, what they do is, they connect this check to the buyer's name and address.
That's an absolute fact, sir.
That's how we identified John Doe.
And who was it, Lieutenant? Who was who? Oh, you mean the John Doe.
Here, I Wait a minute.
No No Laundry list Oh, I gotta pay that.
Bear with me, sir.
Leonard Fisher.
That was his name.
He lives in Albany.
At least he used to live in Albany until he was electrocuted.
Are you sure? Leonard Fisher? Oh, very sure, sir.
The Albany police people, they've been very cooperative.
They even faxed us his driver's license photo.
I think it's here.
I know this man, Lieutenant.
You do? I don't understand.
Lennie We, um, we grew up together.
We loved each other.
I can't Lennie's was the body you found? What a remarkable coincidence, sir.
You actually knew him? Coincidence is what makes a story, Lieutenant.
Without coincidence, life runs evenly, like a train on a track.
Coincidence is a train wreck.
Violence and suffering and guilt.
Guilt, sir? Lennie's sister Jenny was killed about ten years ago, in a freak accident.
She was on her way to meet me.
Me! No me, no accident, no dead Jenny.
And now Lennie, too.
What was he doing in Los Angeles? Why didn't he call me? When was the last time you saw him, sir? About three years ago.
Uh, it was with another friend of ours, Buddy.
Jenny's dead, now Lennie's murdered.
That leaves me.
Um, I'm, uh I'm gonna have to excuse myself, Lieutenant, if you don't mind.
I'm afraid I'm not fit company.
I understand, sir.
It must be a terrible shock.
Is there anything else I can do? Well, there is something, sir.
Tell me.
Maybe not, sir.
Maybe some other time.
Not under these circumstances.
They're my circumstances, Lieutenant, not yours.
Go ahead and ask.
Is it all right if I make myself an ice cream soda? Of course, Lieutenant.
Thank you, sir.
Good night, Lieutenant.
Uh, good night, sir.
Yo, Stanley! Yo! Where's the water truck? Coming at a dead run, Alex! What do you want? You want food? You just ate.
All right, here.
Here's a bone.
That's your third one this morning.
That's too many snacks.
Soon you're gonna be big like a dirigible.
You won't be able to fit in the car.
I'll be right back.
Stanley! More wind, less fog! Mr.
Brady! Okay, now move that rigger over to the right! Mr.
Brady, sir! That's good! Mr.
Brady! It's me, Lieutenant Columbo! I'm afraid I'm a bit busy right now up here, Lieutenant.
I got the clippings! You got the what? Clippings, sir! Newspaper clippings! I'll be right down, Lieutenant.
You just take your time, sir! I'll just wait here! I don't wanna interfere.
I know you're busy.
What clippings, Lieutenant? Oh, at the office, sir.
Just part of my investigation.
All the clippings from that motorcycle accident with Mr.
Fisher's sister.
You and your friend Buddy Coates, you had no reason to feel guilty.
I just had to say that, sir.
It makes me feel better, Mr.
Kill the smoke, Frank.
That accident, it's all the motorcycle.
You had nothing to do with that.
It would've been different if she was working on your film, but she wasn't.
So there's no reason for guilt, Mr.
There was nothing you could do.
Could I sit here? I mean, when you go back up? Your work is so interesting, sir.
As you said about your work, Lieutenant, I'm sure mine isn't as interesting as you think it is.
Just a few minutes, sir.
It's sort of like turnabout, your work for my work.
I'd be very quiet.
All right, Lieutenant, hop on up.
I really appreciate this, sir.
Thank you very much.
Buckle up.
Okay, arm me up, fellows.
This is called a Titan crane, Lieutenant.
Don't feel you have to talk, sir.
Just concentrate on your work.
Does the height bother you? Uh, no, no, hardly at all.
I don't hardly mind.
We're just having a look at this for about 20 seconds in a dream sequence.
Wind whipping around the fog, slick wet streets Arm us left, fellows.
It'll look very real in its own way.
Film makes its own reality.
Arm us to the right! Down and right! I'm not sure whether we'll shoot this day or night, though.
No, back up to the left, fellows, back up to the left! Is that why you ordered the water truck the other night, sir? To, uh, wet down the streets? Your secretary, she was very upset about that, your forgetting to tell her.
Yeah, well Rosie gets upset about paper clips these days, Lieutenant.
And we don't make allowances for age.
Down and right! I gotta get back to my stage, Lieutenant.
I'm glad you enjoyed the ride.
Oh, I think I did, sir.
Awful dead in there, Stan.
Let me try something.
That any better, Alex? Not bad.
Got any sand? For sand, I'd need a bigger wind machine.
Okay, strike the window.
You got it.
Brady? Sir? What are you doing in my desert, Lieutenant? I was looking for you, sir.
I think I came in the wrong way.
This is very strange, sir.
It's a good thing I wore my raincoat! I think you better get me out of here, sir.
Stanley, why don't you help down Lieutenant Columbo? He seems to be a bit lost.
I got it.
You be all right for a while, Alex? Sure.
Sure, go ahead, Stanley.
That was a very eerie feeling, sir.
For a moment there, I didn't know where I was anymore.
And where were you when you knew where you were, Lieutenant? Oh, I was in the middle of my work, sir, thinking about your friend Len Fisher, he being here in L.
and all.
Can you think of any reason why he wouldn't get in touch with you? No, I can't.
It's funny, I've been troubled by that myself.
Could he have been angry with you about something, sir? How would I know, Lieutenant? Right.
How would you know about such a thing if you hadn't seen him or spoken with him? You'll pardon all the questions, sir.
Ask and listen, listen and ask.
That's all we got to work with.
It's really not a very interesting line of work.
Not nearly as fascinating as yours, Mr.
Oh, I don't know.
A moment ago you were lost in the shadows.
Shadows on a screen.
Light and shadow, shadow and light.
That's all we have to work with.
For instance, what is that over there? That looks like a big black picket fence, sir.
And what about that up there? Yo, Wagner! A spotlight, Mr.
Brady? A spotlight.
Now, let's see what happens when we mix the light with the fence.
Wagner! Light and shadow, Lieutenant.
Am I trapped behind the fence? Or are you? Or are we trapping each other? Shall we? Why don't we try to escape from all this, Lieutenant? Well, it should be easy to find a way out.
Not if we reverse the action.
See? We're still locked with each other.
Now our film's making its own reality, and there's no end to the fence.
We could always just back away from each other, sir.
Back away and you lose your light.
Without light, you die.
Your picture dies.
And you've lost your murder case, Lieutenant.
You've left the world of your own reality, Lieutenant.
Now you're in my world.
Now you're living in my reality, and you've lost your substance.
You're a shadow on my screen.
An illusion without reality, sir? But I think I'm very real.
What's real and what isn't? We do our tricks with smoke and mirrors.
The mirrors are real, so is the smoke.
But is the fence real, Lieutenant? Oh, I'm pretty sure about that, sir.
Clouds of atomic particles fly through empty space, pretending to be a fence, and you call that reality? As real as you are, Mr.
Now you understand.
I'm the substance, and you're the shadow.
I created you, and I can destroy you.
I could vanish you with a word.
What word is that, sir? Kill! Remarkable, sir.
Just an exercise.
"Just an exercise.
" Sometimes I think that's the way my investigation is going, sir.
Well, mine was just theatrical tricks, Lieutenant.
Not in the same league as pursuing a murder case.
Well, now we're back to the same problem, Mr.
You wanna make a movie about a detective.
Now, in this particular murder case, the victim's belt and the traveler's check, you might say that was interesting, even theatrical.
But now I'm dealing with shoes.
This evidence, uh, came off the victim's feet.
Well, you judge.
Would you find anything interesting there? Would I find this interesting? No.
Just a shoe.
Just a shoe.
Just by looking at it, I could tell it was a cheap shoe, and I guessed it was made in Portugal, but who cares? Portugal.
Here's another shoe.
No heel.
No heel.
Not much, but better than nothing.
A missing Portuguese heel.
Well, it's not uninteresting, Lieutenant.
And the question, "What happened to the missing heel?" Now, that question Yes? Yes? Yes, I see.
That question might get the audience's attention.
Do you agree? Definitely.
The audience would be right with us.
What made the heel come off? Could you discover that just by using your eyes? What do you think? I don't know.
Well, you can't! You also gotta touch it.
It's sticky.
Yes, it is.
It is sticky.
Probably where the electricity came out.
The electricity blew off the heel.
But you already knew your victim was electrocuted.
So all these deductions of yours, they don't really represent any real progress.
Oh, no, sir, no.
It's not like it helps you solve your murder case.
Oh, no, no.
That would really be exciting for both of us.
Have you on the edge of your seat! Oh, sir, what you see, that's what you get.
Okay, sir.
Well, that's the best I could do.
I know you're busy.
I'll let you go back to work.
But don't give up on this case, Mr.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Maybe we'll make some real progress.
Well, I'll keep my fingers crossed, Lieutenant.
Good day, sir.
Good day.
Just take a second, sir.
You'll get a kick out of this.
I'm walking around on the brownstone street.
Naturally, I got heels on my mind.
A shoe without a heel, how did the heel come off, heel this, heel that, and I stepped on something.
Where did I put it? You won't believe this, sir.
Oh, here.
It was a heel.
Now, that's one I'm gonna tell the wife.
Go back to work, sir.
See you soon.
From my bed, on a clear dawn, you can see Catalina.
I know.
Can I show you? It's not dawn yet.
It will be.
Your friend, Phil Crossette? The man in your office the other day? I remember where I saw him before.
Is that important? I think so.
But first I want to tell you how I met Brian.
I want you to know our accidental meeting.
I was flying home from New York.
Landed in the rain about midnight.
No cabs.
My lucky night.
This taxi just showed up out of nowhere.
The driver started to take me home, out to Encino.
Not my lucky night.
The cab broke down, in the rain.
Something in the engine.
I got soaked holding the flashlight.
Then his radio wasn't working, either.
He went to a house, rang the bell to use the phone.
Turns out it was Brian's house.
Brain followed him back, invited me in, just to dry off.
Two fellow actors.
We found out we were going to work on the same picture.
Your picture.
We talked for hours.
And then in the morning, he took me home.
And that's how we met.
How's that for coincidence? Do you know who the cab driver was, Alex? He was your little bit-player friend, Phil Crossette.
Pretty good actor.
Did his job very well.
Did you use another actor to make sure that Brian was going to be home that night? What's that supposed to mean? It means, Alex, that you're lousy.
You're the lousiest there is.
Hey, Ruthie, forget it! Forget it.
Whatever happened that night, whatever you think happened, we want each other now! You set us up! Alex the director, Alex the master manipulator.
You make your little puppets dance the dance of love.
You freeze me out, and then you juggle me a new lover? What's the big deal? Everybody got what they wanted.
Brian wanted you.
You wanted to punish me.
And your love scenes with Brian were excellent, and that's what I wanted.
That's all I wanted.
So who suffered, Ruthie? What got lost? Go to hell, Alex.
Excuse me.
Miss Jernigan? Mr.
Brady? Mr.
Brady, sir? Yes? Excuse me, stopping by your house like this, Mr.
Brady, but, uh, I got some more news, and Miss Jernigan, she was just leaving.
She seemed very upset, sir.
She's upset.
I'm upset.
Do we have to do this now, Lieutenant? Well, ordinarily, I wouldn't even trouble you, Mr.
Brady, but I've got some very encouraging news.
The Albany police, sir, they traced Mr.
Fisher's place of employment.
Menswear store.
Seems he told them he needed a day off for some dental work.
That's the day he died here, in L.
Uh, sir, I'm expecting two acquaintances.
Uh, they're coming in a second car.
Just let me see if they got the right house.
Brought you a candy bar.
Know you got a sweet tooth.
How did he get here? You mean Mr.
Fisher? By plane, sir.
He arrived that morning.
Uh, we traced the return ticket, sir.
The return Right in here, fellows! This is the house! Down the stairs! We're in the living room! Uh, where was I, sir? Uh, Len had arrived that morning, and you traced his return ticket.
A return ticket for 11:00 the same night, sir.
You mean he only planned on being here for the one day? Just a day, sir.
I'm sure of it.
I checked that ticket twice.
In that morning, out that night.
That's one day.
Uh, Mr.
Sewell, Mr.
Kardarsian, Mr.
Alex Brady.
Good evening.
How do you do? How do you do? Strange.
Isn't it strange? His coming here for just one day.
Yes, strange he didn't call me.
You never heard from him at all? No, I told you, Lieutenant not for three years.
Right, you told me.
Archie? Uh, Mr.
Sewell, he's a new detective.
But he's working his way up.
Tell Mr.
Brady where you first encountered Mr.
That was on Century Boulevard.
Not at the airport? No.
I thought it was at the airport.
Century Boulevard.
That's where you first showed him Mr.
Fisher's picture? Yes, sir.
And he recognized him.
Uh, Mr.
Kardarsian is a cab driver.
From Iran.
Yes, sir.
I hope things are going well for you here, sir.
Thank you.
Now, you recognize this man, and you remember picking him up at the airport? Yes.
Now, Mr.
Brady, you're not gonna believe this.
Do you know where Mr.
Kardarsian took Mr.
Fisher? Lieutenant, I couldn't possibly know.
Look, I think you better just come out and tell me what you wanna tell me.
He took him to the studio, sir.
To your very own studio.
The studio.
I didn't leave him off at the studio.
I took him to the Tour Center.
The Tour Center.
You mentioned that.
That's my mistake.
The Tour Center.
You know, the Tour Center, where the visitors come to take the tour.
Yes, I know the Tour Center, Lieutenant.
What was Len doing at the Tour Center? It is, it's strange, isn't it? Hard to believe a man would fly all the way from Albany, New York just to see the studio, then fly right back home again.
Can you think of any reason No! No.
No, it's baffling.
It is.
It's all very puzzling.
Okay Uh, Mr.
Sewell, Mr.
Kardarsian, we've taken enough of Mr.
Brady's time.
Don't bother to see us out, sir.
We'll I know, it looks like the trail ends at the Tour Center, sir, but we've come a long way.
Don't give up on me yet.
Good night, sir.
Good night, sir.
Nice meeting you.
Sweet dreams! What a house! Very nice house, sir.
Did I tell you he was a director? A director? Yeah, he's a great director.
Oh, yeah? That's how he got this house.
What does he do, TV? Movies.
Movies? His next movie Hello, Phil Crossette.
Phil, this is Alex.
I got another private job for you.
What kind of part you got in mind this time, maestro? Drop by the office in the morning.
What is it with this costume? Always the bridesmaid, never the bride? How's your salad? It's great.
You know, there are a lot of vegetables for a change.
How's yours? I think I should have gotten yours.
Excuse me, ma'am, the hot sauce? Pacific Delight.
Uh, excuse me It's supposed to be shrimp.
Uh, the mustard? Yeah, little shrimpy shrimp.
They hide them in the dressing.
No kidding! Yeah.
I don't see them.
Uh, ma'am You gotta hunt.
Ma'am, the ketchup, please? Oh, there's another one.
Excuse me.
You know something? I think I'm gonna become a vegetarian.
I'm really tired of eating meat.
Oh! Did you see the paper this morning? No.
I overslept.
Uh, ladies Oh.
Oh, my God, what a story.
Excuse me, would you ladies What was that? Would you like to change places? Thank you.
What was that? They found this dead guy on the beach.
Len Fisher.
Really? Len Fisher, that name sounds familiar.
He used to live in L.
I used to go with him.
You're kidding! You must feel awful.
Out of nowhere, I get this phone call from him.
I don't even know how he got my number.
You're kidding! What did he want? Wait till you hear this.
He just says he's up at the Tour Center.
He's waiting for this guy who never showed up.
He sounds all panicky, and Mmm! Yeah, wait till you hear why.
He says he has to score a load of coke to take back to Albany.
He said that? Coke? Out of nowhere! Men.
Then he asked me if I knew anybody for coke.
I hung up on him.
Oh, gosh! We're late again.
The assistant will have a fit.
Uh, waitress? Excuse me.
Honey! One for the road.
Excuse me.
Ladies? Excuse me! Lieutenant Columbo.
I'm with the police.
I couldn't help but overhearing about the Are you an actor? Oh, no, no, no, ma'am.
Oh, that's all I need is another pick-up from an out-of-work actor.
Oh, no, please, ma'am, this is not a pick-up.
Please! Are you bothering the artistes, pal? Oh, no, I'm with the police.
Well, this is very nice, but we got a whole prop department full of this stuff.
I am really with the police.
I don't think the artistes wanna be bothered.
You know, I think you should call yourself a casting director.
Okay, whatever you wanna say Because, see, casting directors, you can talk to them all day long.
Fine! Mr.
Brady! Mr.
Brady, sir! Lieutenant Columbo! Yes, Lieutenant.
What is it? Just wanted to say goodbye for now, sir.
Bring me down, fellows.
Are you leaving us, Lieutenant? Well, it's the case, sir.
It's taken a whole new turn.
Gonna have to spend some time with the narcotics boys.
So we won't be seeing each other for a while.
Well, you've got me convinced there's such a thing as too much reality, Lieutenant.
Excuse me, sir? You've got me convinced that a real detective doesn't belong in the movies.
Well, maybe we could talk about that again.
Goodbye, sir.
Goodbye, Lieutenant.
Goodbye, Lieutenant! Thank you.
Well, Rose, where do we begin? I didn't know we were beginning anything, except these.
Maybe it's an ending, then.
For me and you.
It's time to start thinking about another job, Rose.
You mean a new secretary.
Old Rose, young Alex.
Rose too old for Alex, Alex too young for Rose.
Excuse me.
Here we are.
I think there's something you ought to know about me, Alex.
I'm still going to enjoy my lunch.
Alex, did you remember to tell that nice Lieutenant Columbo about your phone call from Len Fisher? What difference does that make? I thought I heard you telling him that you hadn't heard from your friend Len Fisher.
Not for three years.
But Mr.
Fisher called the other day, and you picked up the call, and no one was there.
Remember, Alex? No.
Thank you.
That's not a very interesting subject, Rose.
Why bring that up? I remembered his name.
Len Fisher.
My mother's maiden name was Fisher.
Try your salmon, Alex.
It's very good.
I was checking the old phone sheets yesterday.
One page was missing.
For the day Mr.
Fisher called.
Did you know it was missing, Alex? No.
But if it was missing, I'm sure that you just threw it out by mistake, Rose.
You're talking about leaving? Finding another job? I don't want you to do that, Rosie.
Oh, I'd never leave you, Alex.
I was thinking about a long paid vacation.
Maybe a cruise! Maybe around the world! I've always dreamed about something like that.
But then I'd come back to you.
What do you think? Is something wrong with your salmon, sir? No.
Just take it away.
I think you deserve a rest, Rose.
Huh! My treat.
For being a loyal secretary.
I'll have my travel agent get in touch with you.
You really should have tried the salmon, Alex.
Maybe you have a minute to join me, Alex.
Sure, Mr.
Excuse me.
You see? I'm playing hooky.
Me and Rita, we're spending the afternoon with our grandchildren.
You deserve it, Mr.
Oh, do I? Yeah? Did I deserve that answer I got, asking you for a favor? My problem with the board? I know, I know.
I'm sorry.
I was a little uptight that day.
I must tell you, Alex, you hurt me.
I can make it up to you, Mr.
No I think I can get that picture ready for an Easter release That won't be necessary, you see, because I made other arrangements.
They're for you, too, Alex.
I want to discuss the picture that you offered us.
What do you mean, "offered us"? We have an agreement.
No, no, what we have is an understanding.
My understanding that you are to prepare the picture.
And you can take six months, two years, a lifetime.
All the same.
Only day-to-day expenses will be authorized.
So you can play your ungrateful games, Alex, you can perfect your illusions, but you got my word: In the end, your picture will be the greatest illusion of all.
I'm gonna see to it it never gets made.
Marosco, you can't just pull the plug like that Please.
I'm already late for my grandchildren.
Stan! Stanley.
Hi, Alex.
Got a new effect here.
Haven't even seen it myself.
We're through with effects.
Lock up the stage.
I thought we were gonna look at those plates.
I said lock it up! Where did this come from? From the boys at Albany, sir.
Your assistant was kind enough to put it up for me.
Get out.
I hope you don't mind, sir.
Just a few more questions.
The Albany police, boy, they've been some terrific help.
They even sent me an inventory of everything in Mr.
Fisher's apartment.
And when I saw that there was a roll of 16-millimeter film hidden among some groceries Well, because of my new interest in film, I sent for it, Mr.
It's just this tiny reel, sir.
But I had it made up like this for your screen.
Do you see the screen, sir? And what do you make of my screen, Lieutenant? Well, when I compare it to the newspaper clippings, sir, I see Mr.
Fisher's sister, and I see the motorcycle accident.
And I see you there, too, sir.
So the accident happened while you were filming, and you ran away and left her to die.
At least that's what the film tells me.
Did Mr.
Fisher ever show you this film? I told you, I haven't Do you mind, Lieutenant? Not at all, sir.
You seem to have taken over my stage, Lieutenant.
Invite me to the first day of shooting.
Could Mr.
Fisher have threatened you in any way, sir? Because he was upset over the way his sister really died? Become hostile? Something like that? Self-protection.
That's certainly a very good motive for murder.
Remember, I haven't seen or talked to Lennie for three years.
Are you suggesting I killed him, Lieutenant? No, sir.
All I'm considering is a motive.
Then if that's all, I have a few problems of my own to take care of.
Oh, there's more, sir.
For instance, there's this.
Your weather report, Mr.
The one your secretary always gets you.
That's for the night Mr.
Fisher was electrocuted.
You see the prediction for rain, sir? Yes, I see the prediction for rain.
But that was the night that you ordered the brownstone street washed down.
You wanted to see it wet.
And I had to ask myself why you did that, and got charged for it and all, when you knew it was gonna rain.
Can you help me with that, Mr.
Brady? Because I'm an impatient man, Lieutenant.
A rain prediction doesn't guarantee a wet street.
A water truck does.
Well, that certainly explains the truck.
But then there's Mr.
Fisher's shoes.
Over by the light, sir.
You remember his shoe, sir? The one with the missing heel? It's the heel I found on your brownstone street, the street you made sure was nice and wet.
That would be a very dangerous place to stand, sir.
I mean, if someone was gripping onto something with high voltage.
You see the burned heel, sir? The lab boys say it's a perfect fit.
Do you believe that's where Len was killed, Lieutenant? On the brownstone street? I think it's a possibility, sir.
And then there's this book, your college yearbook, from the books in your Boys' Club.
I took the liberty, sir.
Those are my bookmarks.
Uh, that'd be your college picture with Len Fisher, and I guess that's Buddy Coates.
And here, sir, from the class before yours, here's a picture of Mr.
Fisher's sister Jenny, the one that died in the accident.
Is there a point to all this, Lieutenant? I guess it has to do with the way people treat a book.
Some people, they turn down the corners of the page, and some people, they use a bookmark.
My own mother, she would chop my hands off if she ever saw me turning down the corners of a book, so I use a bookmark like these, sir.
What do you use? I must confess, I'm a corner-turner, Lieutenant.
Is there a penalty for that? Well, whichever way, it becomes a habit.
And whoever used this book last, maybe just to look from picture to picture, reminisce about happier times, he used a bookmark.
I found this in your college yearbook, on the same page as the photograph of Jenny Fisher.
Maybe you could see it better over here.
Would you turn out the lights, sir? I think the lab boys I think they put this on the same piece of film.
You see the date and the time, sir? The day Mr.
Fisher died, and the time, Just two minutes after Mr.
Kardarsian delivered Mr.
Fisher to the Tour Center.
So we can say that's Mr.
Fisher's ticket, sir, to the studio tour.
And we found the ticket in your yearbook.
A bookmark.
So Len Fisher had to be in your Boys' Club on the day he died, the day, the night, you murdered him by electrocution on the brownstone street.
I'd say by that iron gate, sir, near where I found the heel.
Do you really think some underpaid policeman is going to arrest me with all that circumstantial claptrap? Oh, I almost forgot, sir.
Miss Walker, your secretary? She's been very helpful.
She helped us with that little scene in the restaurant today where you tried to bribe her with a trip around the world.
I'd say that was an admission of guilt.
Her testimony is gonna be very damaging.
I wouldn't count on it, Lieutenant.
Whatever Rose told you, in the end it'll be her word against mine.
Well, not exactly, sir.
We do have witnesses.
You see, that little scene in the restaurant, that was what you might call "staged," sir.
Like your own little manipulations.
Like the taxi driver that drove Miss Jernigan that night, or the two lady extras that were in the studio commissary yesterday, when I was having lunch.
They were very good, sir.
But one of them was a nurse, and there were no hospital scenes shooting at the studio.
And the other was a bridesmaid, and there were no wedding scenes, either.
So I have to think that they were your actors, Mr.
Brady, trying to fool me.
Maybe you would like to see our own actors.
Our witnesses at the restaurant, sir.
Wagner! Sir! You remember the busboy? The part of the busboy played by Detective Sergeant Luis Rodriguez! Another witness, sir, your luncheon waitress, a role beautifully performed by Detective Sergeant Bennington.
Next witness, Mr.
Brady, your very own cocktail waitress, a little hand for your favorite actress, the popular Ruth Jernigan.
And then there's me, sir, playing my own part.
The only thing that's given me any pleasure in this case, Mr.
Brady, is charging you with murder.
And I must say, sir, that's been a very great pleasure, sir.