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Music for the Screen
Prescription Murder




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Stars:  Peter Falk, Gene Barry, Nina Foch

Director:  Richard Irving

Producer:  Richard Irving

First Broadcast:  February 20, 1968

Story:  Lt. Columbo sets out to trap a psychiatrist who has murdered his wife, while ostensibly on a vacation in Mexico.  


“Prescription Murder” opens with a stimulating main title which is brash and kinetic, and could have nicely suited the long-running “Columbo” series for which this film served as pilot episode.

This jazzy theme is played twice in its full glory towards the end of the film, as the police detective is about to spring his trap, but there is also a simpler version to personify Columbo himself, charmingly played to great effect on his first entrance.

In this form, the theme is cool and wily, with even a hint of that rumpled raincoat thrown in for good measure.  While sometimes hinted at in subsequent dramatic cues, it is used primarily thereafter for play ins and outs.

Opening notes of the main title also incorporate a whirring motif which is persistently employed throughout the film to indicate the crime in the minds of its perpetrators.  Among other dramatic devices which move the picture on in terms of suspense and action are a siren-like sound which is syncopated against a ringing phone as the murder is committed as well as a neat bit of jazzy percussion punctuating the murderer's attempt to discover what has happened to his accomplice.

Completely contemporary in flavor, the score uses such colourful percussion and jazz vibes to good effect, particularly before Columbo's final confrontation of the murderer, with music for the TV movie ending on a surprisingly warm note.


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