Columbo's stalking a killer. But what he doesn't know is that the real murderer may be someone on his own investigating team. Peter Falk reprises his role as the crafty Lieutenant Columbo in this film, which marks "Columbo's" 25th anniversary on network television.


In Columbo: A Trace of Murder, the wily detective questions an overbearing millionaire, Clifford Calvert (Barry Corbin), a fellow cigar aficionado, who's accused of murdering a business rival. But things get complicated when two unlikely people, the police forensic scientist on Columbo's own investigation team (David Rasche) and Calvert's unhappy wife, Cathleen (Shera Danese, Peter Falk's real-life wife), know more about the case -and each other- than they should; and a tiny piece of evidence -a cigar stub- leaves Columbo puzzled.



Clifford Calvert
is an overbearing millionaire with a macabre sense of humor who enjoys bragging about how much money and power he has. Howard Seltzer (Raye Birk) is suing Calvert, blaming him for a bad investment based on misleading information Calvert provided. Calvert's problems begin when he runs into Seltzer at a social gathering, and Seltzer makes vague threats that could jeopardize Calvert's power. A nasty exchange of words leads to Calvert punching Seltzer in the face. Clifford's relationship with his wife Cathleen (Shera Danese) is in trouble as well. He is not paying attention to her and is constantly making bad jokes at her expense. Cathleen takes advantage of Calvert's feud with Seltzer to mastermind a plan, with the help of her lover, to get rid herself of Calvert yet keep all of his money: kill Seltzer and frame Calvert. Cathleen's plans might go up in smoke however because Calvert is an elegant cigar aficionado as well, and combined with Lt. Columbo's skills, this hobby might foil the scenario planned by Cathleen and her lover.

This was Barry's first on screen appearance with his head shaved and there's a very funny scene -probably adlibbed by Barry and Peter Falk- where Columbo says "So if you'll just answer a couple of questions, I'll be out of your hair," to which Clifford "responds" with a hostile glare!


CALVERT: So I called the airport in Aspen, told them I was flying in. They told me they didn't have any hangar space. Can you -- can you beat that? I spent $20 million on a corporate jet, and they tell me there's no place to park it!  So I got a supervisor on the horn - woman - told her who I was. She said, "Oh, Mr. Calvert! Well, we didn't know who you were. Of course we can accommodate you." Ha! You're damn right you can accommodate me, sweetheart. With all the money I've spent in your town, or I should say all the money my wife's spent in your town. She keeps the whole damn economy afloat.

SELTZER: I don't think we should be talking to each other, Clifford. After all we are in litigation.
CALVERT: You made a bad investment and now you want to blame me for it.
SELTZER: Clifford, the financial information that you supplied was misleading, and you know it. Why don't you just settle the case?
CALVERT: (Chuckling) Not a chance, Seltzer.
SELTZER: You could lose more than money on this one, Clifford. You could lose your license.
CALVERT: Are you threatening me?
CATHLEEN: Clifford, please.
SELTZER: I'm just saying, the longer this thing goes on, the more likely it is to draw the attention of the S.E.C., and there are certain financial irregularities.

CATHLEEN: I'm going to bed.
CALVERT: You're not still upset, are you?
CATHLEEN: You humiliated me.
CALVERT: Why? Just because I roughed up Seltzer a little bit? He deserved it.
CATHLEEN: So maybe he did, but not in front of my friends, and not at my expense.
CALVERT: At your expense? Ha, ha, ha! I hate to tell you this, honey, but if he wins that lawsuit, I'm gonna take a big hit, and you're gonna have to get used to those rhinestones you were wearing when I met you. If the S.E.C. gets into it, I could end up destitute. What do you think, Cathleen? Can you see the two of us in a one-bedroom apartment? Ha, ha ha, ha, ha!

CATHLEEN: I think I'll talk a walk, get a little air. Want to come?
CALVERT: No. Anyway, what I told this waiter was, "I ordered this steak medium. If I wanted it bloody, I'd go out and knock the cow in the head and cut out the middleman." Ha, ha, ha!

CALVERT: Seltzer was murdered, huh? That's the best news I've heard in a long time.
COLUMBO: Huh, good morning, sir. Regarding Mr. Seltzer, I understand that you saw him last Wednesday night at a party.
CALVERT: Yeah, I saw the little worm last Wednesday.
COLUMBO: Uh, according to your wife, you had words.
CALVERT: Words? Ha, ha, ha! I knocked him on his ass! Ha, ha!
COLUMBO: Was that because he's suing you, sir?
CALVERT: Am I a suspect?
COLUMBO: Oh, no, sir, no. This is just routine. I have to file some kind of a report. So if you'll just answer a couple of questions, I'll be out of your hair. Sorry, sir.
CALVERT: Like what?

CALVERT: What are you doing here?
COLUMBO: Mr. Calvert --
CALVERT: Do you know what time it is?
COLUMBO: I'm not here as a cop. I'm here as a human being.
CALVERT: As opposed to what, a kangaroo? It's too late. This case is over. I'm being indicted for murder tomorrow. Shut the door.
COLUMBO: Thank you very much, sir. I just came to tell you, I don't think you did it!
CALVERT: Oh, well, that's a relief! I'll enter prison with a light heart, knowing that you think I'm innocent.
COLUMBO: Where's your wife, sir?
CALVERT: She's upstairs asleep. If I wanna drink, I'll drink. I don't need her in my face. She's always asking questions about this case. She thinks she's Clarence Darrow. She doesn't have a clue.

COLUMBO: I don't need that, sir. I just bite off the end.
CALVERT: That's disgusting.
COLUMBO: I notice that you like to use a wedge cutter.
CALVERT: A wedge is the only civilized way to prepare a cigar for smoking.
COLUMBO: Why is that, sir?
CALVERT: Well, look at this. See that cut? That's deep, it's angular, and it's precise. It keeps the filler tobacco out of your mouth. What do you do? You gnawed it like a beaver! I don't know how you smoke 'em after you mangle 'em like that.
COLUMBO: May I, sir?
COLUMBO: Mr. Calvert, I'm gonna be honest with you. I noticed your cigar ends before tonight. First time, well, there was one right here in this ashtray. I took a good look at that. Then up in the law office, another one. Took a good look at that. So I knew that your cigar cutter makes this type wedge cut. Now this is the cigar end that we found in Mr. Seltzer's house. Now, that's a straight cut. Straight guillotine cut. Would you cut a cigar like that?
CALVERT: Of course not. And neither should you. Here. Put that on your key chain. At least make some little attempt to be civilized.



  • A Trace Of Murder. 25th Anniversary Special
Relase Date
  • Thursday, May 15, 1997
  • Made For TV / Mystery / Suspense / Crime
Directed By
  • Vincent McEveety

Executive Producers

  • Peter Falk

Produced By

  • Vincent McEveety
  • Christopher N. Seiter


Main Cast

  • Peter Falk as Lt. Columbo

  • David Rasche as Patrick Kinsley

  • Shera Danese as Cathleen Calvert

  • Barry Corbin as Clifford Calvert

  • Raye Birk as Howard Seltzer

Filming Locations

  • Los Angeles, California

Running Time

  • 1 Hour 30 Minutes


  • TV-PG


  • Universal Television




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