When elderly physician Henry Willis (Sam Jaffe) refuses to finance a return to the spotlight for his wife, aging former movie star Grace Wheeler (Janet Leigh), she kills him in his sleep, passing it off as a suicide. Their elderly butler (Maurice Evans) believes Grace was in a private screening room the entire time, watching one of her classic films.
Final clue/twist: Columbo believes that a discrepancy between the length of the movie and the time it took Grace Wheeler to watch it, including the few minutes it took her to fix the film after it ripped, proves that Grace spent some time away from the screening room. It was then, Columbo concludes, that she was out committing the murder.
This is one of the only two episodes in which the perpetrator is not arrested (the other being Its All In The Game), as Ned Diamond (John Payne), Wheelers longtime song and dance partner who has always loved Grace, falsely confesses to save her after Columbo informs him she is suffering from a degenerative brain disease (the primary reason her husband refused to finance her return) and likely no longer even remembers the murder. Nonetheless, Columbo is prepared to arrest her. Diamond makes his false confession to Grace who briefly becomes very upset. Columbo arrests Diamond, both realizing that by the time he is cleared, Grace will have died. Columbos normal instincts thwarted, he makes several half turns â€“ as though to enter the screening room â€“ where Grace, lost in the past, is watching the film, having already forgotten Diamonds confession. Columbo then leaves the mansion, following Diamond.
The episode features excerpts from the 1953 musical comedy Walking My Baby Back Home, which starred Leigh. It is Graces favorite film, the one playing when she was committing the crime and the one she is watching, mesmerized, at the end of the episode.
|Columbo (season 5)|
|1.Forgotten Lady 2.A Case of Immunity 3.Identity Crisis 4.A Matter of Honor 5.Now You See Him 6.Last Salute to the Commodore|