The thirty seventh episode of Columbo was titled Old Fashioned Murder and was the second episode of the show’s sixth season. Faced with the loss of her life’s work, a museum curator turns on those closest to her. In this podcast Gerry and Iain look at the impact of an emotional story.
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There was a familiar face opposite Columbo in this episode as Joyce Van Patten returned to the show after a small role in Season Four’s Negative Reaction. Playing Ruth Lytton, curator of the family museum, she turns to murder after her brother Edward (Tim O’Connor) suggests that the financially prudent course of action is to sell the museum and its contents. Caught up in her plot is Milton Shaeffer, a security guard played by the episode’s writer Peter S. Feibleman.
Oscar winner Celeste Holm as Lytton’s sister, Mrs. Brandt, offers a melodramatic distraction, while Jeannie Berlin‘s Janie Brant is the victim of Ruth’s attempted framing, despite an apparently close relationship between the two women. Jess Osuna appears as Tim Shaeffer – brother of Milton and having an extra-marital affair with Janie – while Jon Miller also appears as the creatively-named Sergeant Miller.
As noted, Peter S. Feibleman wrote the teleplay from a story by Lawrence Vail. Vail, in turn, appears to have been a pseudonym for Peter S. Fischer. Director Robert Douglas helmed his only Columbo episode, but viewers may have recognised his name from an acting turn in Troubled Waters where he played Dr. Pierce.
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Old Fashioned Murder was released in 1976. It is 73 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 the show’s seasons released by Universal.