Columbo Scratches a Cosmetic Itch
Viveca Scott's (Vera Miles) cosmetics empire is starting to flag and her long time rival David Lang (Vincent Price) is snapping at her heals. It is why Viveca is holding out for a miracle anti-wrinkle cream which chemist Karl Lessing (Martin Sheen) has been working on except thanks to the mole she has working for her inside Lang's company she learns that Karl is going to sell the miracle cream to him. When Viveca tries to talk Karl into giving her the formula things turn nasty and she ends up killing him before leaving hastily. Of course murder means Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk) is called in and quickly becomes suspicious as he discovers that Lessing was working for both Scott and Lang.
I'm slowly working my way through old episodes of "Columbo" as many of them get shown as individual TV movie here in the UK. Now it doesn't take long to realise that the majority of "Columbo" was built around a handful of formulas be it the humour of the lieutenant pitting himself up against someone who thinks they are cleverer than him or watching him nibble away at someone he suspects of being the murderer. And to get to the point "Columbo: Lovely But Lethal" is the second one as he finds himself investigating a murder within the cosmetic industry and the competitive nature of competitors.
But whilst "Columbo: Lovely But Lethal" delivers the fun of watching Peter Falk as Columbo scratching away at an itch to solve the case what this one has is the supporting cast with Vera Miles, Vincent Price and Martin Sheen all involved. And all three play their parts well as does Sian Barbara Allen as Viveca's mole who decides to try and blackmail her. And it has to be said the calibre of the supporting cast make this episode a treat.
What this all boils down to is that "Columbo: Lovely But Lethal" is a typical episode of Columbo from the early 70s and the key to this one is not the murder or so much Columbo's solving of it but the power of the stars in supporting roles.