I actually harp on it on this site, but it's the same way with me when it comes to Leslie Williams. Obviously she isn't the only very attractive female killer, but to me she's nearly the only one with a genuine femme fatale look and sound about her (even if the story doesn't make the most of that particular thing).
And even though she's second killer and the first female one, she has some of the best lines of any of them.
Mine has to go to Kay Freestone. As as previously mentioned, she is one Cold Hearted Woman to kill somebody just to advance her own career. I wonder what would have happened if Mark did give her the job? He was off to New York anyway, and she would be 3000 miles away. Her secret lover would be gone. But as strong as she is, I would assume that she would manipulate her way into another television directors life very soon. Anyway, the ending is very classic. " ill fight. ill survive. i might even win" Bitter coldness right to the finish line.
I don't think Kay killed to advance her career, she killed because she was a spurned lover. And as Columbo said to Tracy Rose, ex-spouses and spurned lovers, they kill more than anyone.There was no guarantee that she would get the job if Mark was dead.
Oh I think it's pretty obvious she killed for the job...remember when Mark says, "I want you to stay here, Kay..." and her eyes light up and she says, "Your job?!?!"....and he says a line he'd live to regret, "I can't give you the west coast, babe..."
Also, remember this episode strongly hints to her having a more-than-friend relationship with Valerie Kirk.
At first, she thought Mark was taking her to NY to be his assistant there. It's only when he said he wanted her to stay that she got excited by getting his job.
Would she had killed him if they weren't lovers? If she was just someone he worked with that didn't get a promotion, would she kill him? Even Columbo says that her getting the job wasn't motive enough, that there had to be more to it, and once he saw that Kay's dry cleaning was being sent to Mark's house, he knew Kay had the motive to kill him.
One question. What are you implying about Kay's and Valerie's relationship, because I missed that one completely.
Your argument is solid, Joe. I'd be willing to concede that their relationship definitely added to her reasons for killing. But I maintain she most likely entered that relationship thinking it could ultimately benefit her career.
You never hear her say, "I thought we had something here...I thought we had feelings for each other..." She was more about, "I thought I had earned something here..." when speaking of the West Coast job he couldn't "give" her.
So the Valerie/Kay relationship, given that by 1978 when this episode came out, it seemed the censors lightened up a bit to the point where they were comfortable at least throwing some ambiguity into exactly what type of friendship they had. Kay had given Valerie a key to her apartment. You can almost deduce by the way they interact throughout it that there is most likely something more there. Definitely requires the viewer to "see" that themselves, but if that had been an episode in the year late 90s, it would've been made clear they were lovers.
I'm always on the fence about Kay and Valerie. Sure, it's possible, and it doesn't offend me, but I'm never sure one way or the other.
Vivian Dimitri also comes to mind as being one very cold hearted ****** I wonder if she knew ahead of time that Columbo would be investigating Charlie's murder? In this episode, we also get to see a picture of Mrs. Columbo. To my knowledge, this is the only episode where we see what she looks like. Vivian is going to get her revenge one way or another for her husband's death.
The masterful Lee Grant portrayal of Leslie Williams in "Ransom for a Dead Man" puts up a tough fight though narrowly takes second place to that excellent "Rest in Peace, Mrs. Columbo" brilliant performance by Helen Shaver as Vivian Dimitri a.k.a. Annette Garobaldi. It was an exciting, entertaining script to work with and could not have achieved its height of success without the genius of Shaver taking it to yet an even stronger and more meaningful level.
Abigail Mitchell - she's utterly merciless to Columbo. Every thought and word is dripping with sarcasm about her late nephew. And to cap it all when Columbo proves her guilt, she asks for his compassion!!! So regretable Ruth Gordon didn't appear in more Columbo episodes, she was his real match.
The one that stands out to me has always been Trish Van Devere's Kay Freestone. She has so many great scenes but at the end of the episode she is pretty unique for a Columbo killer for not outright admitting guilt and even saying she will fight and might even win! There aren't that many killers i can think of who are this tough at the end most of them are like ''ok i did it, lets go downtown and i'll sign a full confession''lol
The two i don't like much are Abigail Mitchell and Beth Chadwick, i find Abigail annoying. I didn't like Beth Chadwick's unconvincing personality transplant that seems to happen immediately after she kills her brother.
So clearly the relationship with Kay and Mark is the issue. She gets excited when she says “your job”, not only about the promotion , but because there is still the likelihood that they are still a couple, albeit long distance. As soon as she realizes he’s not leaving her behind for a promotional reason, she realizes she is getting dumped. Because that means there is absolutely no reason not to take her to New York. And on top of it he is not acknowledging her ability which is adding insult to injury. So I clearly believe it is the relationship issue. The promotion part was just the only acceptable reason she would be happy with him not taking her
As for Valerie, I completely disagree on their relationship being anything but friendship. Kay is her go to best friend when she’s having life problems and the whole “key” thing is likely just that whatever problems she’s having, she shows up on Kay’s doorstep and crashes there even if Kay isn’t home to let her in. Totally think everyone is reading way too much into that. Kay is the logical sympathetic friend who always tries to help her and put her back on track.
Irene, we can all certainly agree to disagree. I think it's somewhat obvious there is more there than friendship. People don't just give out keys to their apartments if they are simply friends. Pretty sure Valerie would have her own place. They have phones to communicate and I don't think you're really "seeing" their interactions for what they are. For 1978, this was very risque but I think very obvious that they had something going. Also factors in more as to how she viewed Mark as somewhat disposable.
I always assumed that Kay and Valerie’s affair was physical: “How about a hug?”, etc. That doesn’t prove anything but if it’s true then the career-obsessed Kay had romances with her boss and a powerful but vulnerable celebrity; both people who could help Kay in her career.
When Kay heard those infamous words: “I can’t give you the west coast, Babe”, she became homicidal. The irony is that Mark was right. Kay really wasn’t ready for the job. She made some terrible decisions, particularly leaving the unstable Valerie Kirk in for a live show.
There’s no point in arguing whether or not Kay and Valerie were lovers. The writers left it ambiguous, so however you choose to perceive it is “correct” IMHO. It’s similar to the guilt of Abigail Mitchell’s nephew.
Whenever Kay Freestone/Make Me a Perfect Murder is the focus of a discussion, this debate about Kay and Valerie always pops up. I think all that can be said has been said about this but it certainly seems that the episode was controversial, whether it intended to be or not. Does anyone think that Kay tries to put the moves on Columbo a bit in the scene in her old childhood home when she gives him a massage?The first time i saw the episode i thought she was going to lean over and kiss him it was so physical. Columbo only ever got more physical than that with one other woman in the series and that was Faye Dunaway.
I thought that Shirley in Lovely But Lethal may have had feelings beyond friendship for Viveca as well, the way she was staring at her at some points in the episode and when she kissed her on the beach Viveca looked very uncomfortable.
Maybe Viveca was uncomfortable getting affection from Shirley because of the plan to murder her.