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Columbo - Mystery Movie Collection, 1989

4.5 out of 5 stars 176 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Legendary Peter Falk is back checking his pockets for clues as everyone's favorite trenchcoat wearing Police Lieutenant in five immensely popular TV movies on DVD for the first time ever in the Columbo TV Movie Collection 1989. Smart, witty and entertaining, Columbo is on the beat of unlikely criminals who always think they can outsmart TV's most probing and perceptive detective. Join a dossier of guest stars, including Fisher Stevens and Lindsay Crouse, in this landmark TV movie set that opens a new chapter on the Columbo legacy! Disc One "Columbo Goes to the Guillotine" There's much more than meets the eye when Columbo investigates the death of a magician who supposedly was killed by one of his own clever magic tricks. "Murder, Smoke and Shadows" Columbo searches for clues on the cutting-room floor when he suspects a high-powered film director of hiding evidence of murder. Disc Two "Sex and the Married Detective" Does the heart rule the head, or vice versa? Columbo ponders the answer to this timeless question and others when he must out-wit a sex therapist involved in a crime of passion. "Grand Deceptions" Rank and reputation prove to be particularly difficult obstacles when Columbo looks into the murder of a respected military General by one of his overly-ambitious Colonels. Disc Three "Murder, a Self Portrait" It's no murder-by-numbers when Columbo investigates the deadly relationships between a savvy artist, his troubled ex-wife, his attention-starved current wife, and his live-in model.


After a 10-year break from the role that made him a TV superstar, Peter Falk returned as rumpled LAPD homicide detective Lt. Columbo in 1989, appearing in feature-length episodes of The ABC Mystery Movie. The first five of those TV movies are collected here as the Mystery Movie Collection 1989 comprising what is essentially the long-delayed "eighth season" (and part of the ninth) of Columbo, the popular series that made its debut on NBC in 1971. Now signed to ABC with a lucrative new contract, Falk returned to his iconic role as if he'd never left, still wearing the same worn-out overcoat, still driving the same old 1959 Peugeot rust-bucket (with his lazy Bassett Hound "Dog" in the passenger seat), still making frequent references to the never-seen "Mrs. Columbo," and still annoying nervous murder suspects with his politely cunning approach to solving homicides in Los Angeles. As created by TV mystery masters Richard Levinson and William Link, the Columbo series was nothing if not formulaic, but the fun of watching these 93-minute TV movies comes from seeing how that formula still works like a charm: The first half-hour shows how the killers commit and conceal their crimes (Columbo is a police procedural, not a whodunit), and the remaining hour shows Columbo grilling his suspects, slowly turning up the heat until the killer's goose is summarily cooked. With his trademark line "Just one more thing...," Falk fits his role like an old shoe, and the show's writers played on the character's beloved status by milking humor from Columbo's well-established mannerisms, such as leaving the room after gently probing suspects for telling clues, then returning (after a pregnant pause) to deliver "one more thing "--his crime-solving coup de grace (aptly referred to by Rockford Files creator Stephen J. Cannell as Columbo's trademark "dart to the heart.")

The Mystery Movie Collection emphasizes a colorfully Southern Californian element of crime and eccentricity, from the beheading of a magician in "Columbo Goes to the Guillotine" (with Anthony Andrews hamming it up as the killer) to the malicious misdeeds of "Murder, Smoke and Shadows," in which Spielbergian movie-mogul wunderkind (Fisher Stevens) stages an electrocution murder on the backlot of Universal Studios. "Sex and the Married Detective" is a lightly comedic film noir send-up, in which a sex therapy radio-host (Lindsay Crouse) invents a sexy alter ego to eliminate her cheating lover. In "Grand Deceptions," Robert Foxworth's misdeeds on a military training base aren't clever enough to fool Columbo, and in "Murder: A Self Portrait," Patrick Bachau plays a selfish lothario with three lovers (wife, ex-wife, and girlfriend) who decides that three's a crowd and his ex (Fionnula Flanagan) has got to go! Clever enough to hold anyone's attention, these murders are smartly conceived and entertainingly solved, and the performances and direction are uniformly strong. But the obvious appeal of Columbo is Columbo himself, and with Falk in the role he was born to play (even though it was originally offered to Bing Crosby!), the character remained so popular that he appeared in 19 more TV movies between 1990 and 2003. The Mystery Movie Collection includes one DVD bonus feature: a 30-minute tribute to "America's Top Sleuths," as chosen in a 2007 online survey by viewers of the newly-launched Sleuth TV network. Columbo ranks #2 (out of 10), a close runner-up to Tom Selleck's Magnum P.I. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

Disc 3:
  • America's Top Sleuths

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Peter Falk
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Color, Full Screen, NTSC
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
    • Subtitles: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Number of discs: 3
    • Rated:
      Not Rated
    • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
    • DVD Release Date: April 24, 2007
    • Run Time: 467 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B000MV9OMM
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,834 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Columbo - Mystery Movie Collection, 1989" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    By E. Hornaday on February 21, 2007
    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    This latest boxed set of excellent DVD releases of the classic Columbo TV detective series represent the first of the later produced feature-lenghth episodes that were aired.

    Universal, which owns Columbo, has called this set "Columbo: Mystery Movie Collection 1989." Included are all of the episodes that fans consider comprise Season Eight, along with the first episode of Season Nine, which ultimately had six episodes. Those episodes apparently are going to be released in the next boxed set of these later movies.

    In addition to the episodes in 1990, the franchise churned out 13 more terrific episodes between 1991 and 2003 featuring the rumpled (and ultimately attractively graying) Peter Falk in the title role, which has truly and deservedly become an iconic TV character. Hopefully, the entire Columbo catalog will be released on DVD.

    This boxed set includes a cornucopia of great stories and stellar acting, a trademark of the series. The last episode included is my favorite episode of the entire series. This three-disc set includes:

    Disc 1: "Columbo goes to the Guillotine," which aired Feb. 9, 1989. Lt. Columbo delves into the world of magic, ESP and slight of hand as he investigates the death of a magician, Matt Dyson, who appears to have been beheaded by his own invention, a trick guillotine. There appears to be a tie to a prodigal psychic supported by a government founded institute on parapsychology. Primary Guest Star Anthony Andrews as Eliot Blake.

    "Murder, Smoke, And Shadows," which aired Feb. 27, 1989. An egocentric film director resorts to his mastery of special effects to murder a vengeful friend who discovers the director's role in the movie-stunt death of the friend's sister years before. Filmed on University Studio's backlots.
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    Format: DVD
    The original Columbo television program that kicked off in 1971 (following two pilots of which the original aired in 1967) and ran until 1977 was arguably the greatest detective series in the history of television and one of the best dramatic series period. It was a rare cop show that celebrated intellect over brawn and the rare intellectual show that managed to convey its intelligence without being pretensious or self-satisfied. It was also often very funny and sometimes even grandly moving. Those virtues can almost exclusively be attributed to Peter Falk's multi-textured acting and the commitment of creator/producers Richard Levinson and William Link. Levinson and Link treated every episode of Columbo as a mini-movie that just happened to feature the same lead character. There was nothing second rate about the original Columbo; it had the best writers and directors including a young Steven Spielberg and guest stars. The cast always featured name performers as the villains and often in minor roles. What other TV show would toss off Myrna Loy and Vincent Price as bit players? It also maintained a level of excellence by only putting a few quality shows each season on the air.

    Many of these virtues were retained when Columbo returned the air in 1989. Eventually, the show would become the best and most successful revival of a dormant television character in tv history. (The Star Trek franchise notwithstanding as it was more sequel than revival.) That may sound like dubious praise but it was an always intriguing show that stood on its own even if it never quite touched those glorious '70s episodes.

    These episodes, the first back on the air after the hiatus, show the series took a little time to get back to speed.
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    2 Comments 101 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    Columbo began in 1968 with the TV film "Prescription: Murder" followed by 44 episodes aired between 1971-78. More than a decade later Peter Falk returned as Det. Columbo in what has come to be known as the "second generation" Columbo series. Five episodes aired in 1989, six in 1990 and thirteen more between 1991-2003. Hence, the first generation had 45 installments and the second generation 24, for a total of 69 Columbo segments.

    This 3-Disc DVD collection features the five 1989 Columbo TV films, all 94 minutes in length:

    (1.) "Columbo Goes to the Guillotine" (Original Airdate: Feb. 6, 1989). A magician/paranormal critic is beheaded by his own guillotine. The murderer is a vengeful psychic. This one is highlighted by the super-sharp Karen Austin, who played John Candy's wife in "Summer Rental" (1985). (You might not think she's anything very breath-taking at first, but wait til the scene where she lets her hair down).

    (2.) "Murder, Smoke and Shadows" (Original Airdate: Feb. 27, 1989). A young, talented film director electrocutes a former friend who has evidence that could ruin his lucrative career. Fisher Stevens effectively plays the Spielberg-like filmmaker.

    (3.) "Sex and the Married Detective" (Original Airdate: April 3, 1989). Lindsay Crouse plays a sex therapist/radio show host who murders her cheating lover by masquerading as a mysterious "lady in black" high-class hooker.

    (4.) "Grand Deceptions" (Original Airdate: May 1, 1989). Robert Foxworth runs a military think tank and commits fraud against the wheelchair-bound owner, an elderly famous general. He's also having a long-running affair with the general's much-younger wife.
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    8 Comments 45 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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