The seventeenth episode of Columbo was titled Any Old Port in a Storm and was the second episode of the show’s third season. Fratricide and fermentation are the key themes in a classic tale. In this podcast Gerry and Iain look at the critical relationships and circumstances as Columbo looks to prove a scuba accident is more than it seems.
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Donald Pleasence is captivating as master vinter turned killer Adrian Carsini, who strikes down Gary Conway‘s Ric Carsini in a fit of rage, provoked by his younger half-brother’s decision to sell the family vineyards and close their winery. With the unsolicited help of secretary Karen Fielding, played by Julie Harris, he looks to evade Columbo’s suspicion, without success. Pleasence is of course known for his iconic role as Dr Loomis in five of the Halloween movies and for his turn as Blythe in The Great Escape and would have been recognisable for that latter role in particular at the time of his appearance in Columbo.
There were supporting roles for Joyce Jillson as Joan Stacey, the distressed fiancée of Ric Carsini; Dana Elcar and Robert Ellenstein as wine connoisseurs Falcon and Stein; and Robert Doyle in a brief but enjoyable role as Carsini’s winery tour guide. Robert Walden displayed the best moustache as Billy Fine, friend of Joan.
The episode was written by Larry Cohen, with Stanley Ralph Ross responsible for the teleplay. This was the first of three Columbo episodes from Cohen’s pen, while Ross would go on to write a Season Four episode before creating the Wonder Woman series which ran for sixty episodes from 1975. Director Leo Penn would direct two more episodes over the following sixteen years, but is perhaps better remembered for his 27 stints behind the Matlock camera and the cultural impact of his sons, Michael, Sean and Chris.
During this episode we asked if any listeners could confirm whether it was normal to have an organ in the first class cabin of flights in the 1970s and about LA weather patterns, but even if they’re not ones you can answer please chip in with your thoughts on any aspect of Any Old Port in a Storm below, or find us on Twitter at @columbopodcast.
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Any Old Port in Storm was released in 1973. It is 96 minutes long and originally aired on the NBC network. It can be viewed on Netflix in the United States and is available on DVD in other countries, including a comprehensive box set of all eleven seasons released by Universal.