Prescription: Murder (1968 TV Movie)
Lt. Columbo: But one thing bothers me, Doctor. This man that we're talking about has taken a human life. Now wouldn't you say that he was insane?
Dr. Ray Flemming: Why? Because he committed an immoral act? Morals are conditioned, Lieutenant. They're relative, like everything else is today. Our murderer may be as sane as you and me. Killing may be repugnant to him, but if it's his only solution, he uses it. That pragmatism, my friend, not insanity.
Lt. Columbo: Tell me, Doctor, how do you catch a man like that?
Dr. Ray Flemming: You don't.
Lt. Columbo: You're probably right. He sounds just too clever for us. What I mean is, you know, cops, we're not the brightest guys in the world. Of course, we got one thing going for us: we're professionals. I mean, you take our friend here, the murderer. He's very smart, but he's an amateur. I mean, he's got just one time to learn. Just one. And with us, well, with us, it's - it's a business. You see, we do this a hundred times a year. I'll tell ya, Doc. That's a lot of practice.
Dr. Ray Flemming: I'm going to tell you something about yourself. You say you need a psychiatrist? Maybe you do and maybe you don't, but you are the textbook example of compensation.
Lt. Columbo: Of what, Doc?
Dr. Ray Flemming: Compensation. Uh, adaptability. You're an intelligent man, Columbo, but you hide it. You pretend you're something you're not. Why? Because of your appearance. You think you cannot get by on looks or polish, so you turn a defect into a virtue. You take people by surprise. They underestimate you, and that's where you trip them up, like coming here tonight.
Lt. Columbo: Boy, you got me pegged pretty good, Doctor. I'm gonna have to watch myself with you, because, uh, well, you figure out people pretty good.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Now you're trying flattery.
Lt. Columbo: No, really, I'm serious, doctor. You've got a gift there. Oh, I know it's your job and I know you've studied for years, but still it's... well, it's amazing that a person can come in here and sit down and in a couple of hours, you know all about them.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Well, not quite. Psychiatry isn't a parlor trick.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Lieutenant, if there's any further way I can be of assistance to you...
Lt. Columbo: Oh, no, no, no, you just make out that list, that'll be fine, Doc.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Thank you.
Lt. Columbo: Oh, oh, one more thing, before I forget...
[Lt. Columbo has a drink with Dr. Flemming in his office, and looks at his bookshelves]
Lt. Columbo: Like to read, huh, Doctor?
Dr. Ray Flemming: Yes, I do.
Lt. Columbo: You read murder mysteries?
Dr. Ray Flemming: Not very often.
Lt. Columbo: Oh, me, I love 'em. I find 'em nice and relaxing. You know, the only trouble is that they got nothin' to do with real life. I mean, the guy who did it, they catch him every time, and you and I know that it doesn't always work out that way.
Dr. Ray Flemming: You never stop, do you?
Lt. Columbo: What?
Dr. Ray Flemming: The insinuation, the uh, change of pace. You're a bag of tricks, Columbo. Right down to that prop cigar you use.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Columbo, you are magnificent. You really are.
Lt. Columbo: Well, what makes you say that, Doc?
Dr. Ray Flemming: You're the most persistent creature I've ever met, but likeable. The astonishing thing is, you're likeable. Has anyone ever told you you're droll?
Lt. Columbo: Who, me?
Dr. Ray Flemming: Yes, you.
Lt. Columbo: [embarassed, laughing] Oh, come on, Doc. Come on, come on.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Oh, but you are. You're a sly little elf, and you should be sitting under your own private little toadstool. You say you've been thrown off the case, and yet you have the flagrant audacity to come back here and bother me again. I respect that. It irritates me, but I respect it. How about a drink?
Lt. Columbo: Well, all right.
Carol Flemming: Six months ago, I gave you a choice. Between me and your... oh, how shall I put it? Extracurricular activity.
Dr. Ray Flemming: I made that choice.
Carol Flemming: I wanted a husband in fact, not just in appearance. If you refused I'd divorce you.
Dr. Ray Flemming: There was a catch to that, as I recall.
Carol Flemming: Well, naturally, you don't think I'm going to make it easy for you? I'd create as much scandal as I possibly could for you and ruin your practice entirely.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Aside from taking every penny that I've got.
Carol Flemming: Those were my terms! You accepted them... until tonight.
Joan Hudson: I want to call my lawyer.
Lt. Columbo: Dr. Flemming murders his wife and you want to call YOUR lawyer?
Dr. Ray Flemming: I want the man who murdered my wife. Everything else is irrelevant.
Lt. Columbo: Well, I'm only trying to...
Dr. Ray Flemming: I know. You're only trying to tie up loose ends. Well, if you spent a little less time on loose ends, maybe you'd come up with something important. You know, sometimes I get the impression you think *I* killed my wife.
Lt. Columbo: You? Oh, no, Doc. How could you? You were out of town.
Dr. Ray Flemming: I'm glad you remembered that. Unless you think I hired someone to kill her. The boy who confessed? Maybe I paid him to do it.
Lt. Columbo: No, Doc, you didn't do that.
Dr. Ray Flemming: How do you know?
Lt. Columbo: I already asked him.
Burt Gordon: I think a toast is in order. To our host and hostess on the tenth anniversary of their horrible mistake.
[Carol Flemming makes a sound of protest]
Dr. Ray Flemming: You'd better rephrase that, counselor.
Burt Gordon: Pleasure, Your Honor. To the two finest people I ever knew. Here's to ten more years of happiness!
Carol Flemming: [talking about their friend Burt Gordon] I never saw anyone work as hard, including you.
Dr. Ray Flemming: But I didn't have to. My wife had a rich father.
Carol Flemming: [smiling] And you married me for my money.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Not yours, darling. Your father's.
Carol Flemming: [moments before she is strangled by her husband] Our second honeymoon may be better than our first.
Lt. Columbo: [first words ever said by Columbo] Dr. Flemming?
Dr. Ray Flemming: Who are you?
Lt. Columbo: Lieutenant Columbo, police.
Dr. Ray Flemming: [after trying to get through hospital regulations in order to see his wife in intensive care] Hospital red tape.
Lt. Columbo: Yeah, I know what you mean, Doctor.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Well, let's get on with it.
Lt. Columbo: Get on with what?
Dr. Ray Flemming: YOUR red tape.
Dr. Ray Flemming: You're an intelligent man, Columbo, but you hide it.
Lt. Columbo: You know my sister, she has a living room that's very, very modern. But the minute you sit down in it, you can't open your mouth. You know, she's got this big kidney-shaped coffee table, it upsets me just to look at it. Her husband doesn't say anything and I figure the coffee table got to him years ago.
Burt Gordon: I don't think I have to remind you that this could be... quite the little feather in your cap. Wrap it up and everybody's happy. Lieutenant?
Lt. Columbo: Um, yeah, I'm sorry. I was, uh, I was just thinking about something.
Burt Gordon: What was that?
Lt. Columbo: No, it's nothing important. It's, uh, Dr. Flemming, he didn't call to his wife when he came back to his apartment.
Burt Gordon: I don't follow you.
Lt. Columbo: Oh, well, I was in the bedroom. I was checking some things, and I heard him open the front door, and he didn't say anything, and... gee, it's funny how people are different, isn't it? Now you take myself, when I come home from a trip, uh, the first thing I do is I say, "Honey, you here?"
Burt Gordon: Exactly what is your point, Lieutenant?
Lt. Columbo: Point? Oh, I wasn't making a point.
Burt Gordon: It sounded to me as if you were. You heard the man admit that he had an argument with his wife. He probably still had a chip on his shoulder this morning.
Lt. Columbo: I was only tryin' to...
Burt Gordon: Lieutenant, I have already told you that Dr. Flemming is a close, personal friend of mine. Now I hope he's not going to be annoyed by a lot of tactless remarks, especially at a time like this.
Lt. Columbo: Well, I'm sorry, Mr. Gordon. I guess I shouldn't have mentioned it.
Joan Hudson: I had to see you. When I'm alone, I don't know, I... I get confused.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Second thoughts?
Joan Hudson: A few.
Dr. Ray Flemming: It's a natural reaction, under the circumstances.
Joan Hudson: I keep wishin' there were some other way.
Dr. Ray Flemming: There isn't.
Joan Hudson: But, if you talked to her... if I talked to her...
Dr. Ray Flemming: Joan, don't be naive. We have one alternative. We decided that a long time ago.
Dr. Ray Flemming: I didn't think you'd be up.
Carol Flemming: Don't bother to undress. You're sleeping in the guest room. I've turned down the bed.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Carol...
Carol Flemming: I think you should know I'm calling my lawyers in the morning.
Dr. Ray Flemming: It's been a long day. Do we have to start on that again?
Carol Flemming: You'll have to indulge me just this one last time, dearie. It's lucky for you I'm too well-bred to throw a tantrum.
Dr. Ray Flemming: All right. Fire away.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Are you sure of everything? Shall I do it over again?
Joan Hudson: No, I don't want to talk about it anymore!
Dr. Ray Flemming: Ah, but it will be fine, I promise you. Just pretend you're working on a role, right down to the props.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Well, what is it? Tell me!
Lt. Columbo: Well, um, somebody broke in here and tried to kill her.
Dr. Ray Flemming: [Flemming feigns shock for a moment when the words register] "Tried" to kill her?
Lt. Columbo: That's right, Doctor. She's lucky she's still alive.
Dr. Ray Flemming: [feigning relief] She's still alive! Well, where is she now? Is she conscious? Has she been able to say anything?
Lt. Columbo: Well, I'm afraid not. She's been in a coma.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Well, what's her condition right now? Oh, come on, I must know the truth!
Lt. Columbo: It's not very good, Doctor. We only hope she comes to long enough to be able to talk to us.
Lt. Columbo: [reaching in his pockets] Oh, uh, a few questions for my report, Doc.
[searching other pockets]
Lt. Columbo: Now, uh, you were in Mexico when this thing took place, and... uh... the dates there were... uh, gee, you don't have a pencil, do ya?
[Flemming hands him his pen]
Lt. Columbo: Thanks. You know, my wife, she gives me one every morning, but I just can't seem to hold onto it.
Lt. Columbo: There must be something wrong with me. I seem to bother people, to make them nervous.
Lt. Columbo: I think I'm too suspicious. I don't trust people, that's my trouble.
Lt. Columbo: What'd you say, Doc?
Dr. Ray Flemming: [laughs] You're a very funny man.
Lt. Columbo: I wasn't trying to be funny.
Dr. Ray Flemming: But you are, and more than you know.
Dr. Ray Flemming: People don't always do the rational thing.
Lt. Columbo: Oh, they sure don't! You learn a lot about that in my line. Well, I guess you do in yours too.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Is there something I can do for you?
Lt. Columbo: Oh no, not really, doctor, no. I, I just came up to bring back your pen. I forgot to give it to you at the inquest.
[hands it over]
Dr. Ray Flemming: Well thanks, I missed it.
Lt. Columbo: You know, that's my trouble, I got a bad memory. My wife tells me I ought to have strings on all ten fingers.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Lieutenant, for the past week, you've been asking me some rather pointless questions, and I am getting very tired of them.
Lt. Columbo: I was wondering, Doctor, would you take me on as a patient?
Dr. Ray Flemming: Take you on as a what?
Lt. Columbo: No, I mean it. Maybe you can help me. I don't know, There must be something wrong with me. I seem to bother people. I seem to make them nervous. Maybe you can tell me why.
Lt. Columbo: Well, I know it's easy enough to figure out about a patient or a guy like me that's always hanging around all the time, but what about a stranger? What about a, uh - a fella that you'd never met before? Can you tell what makes him tick?
Dr. Ray Flemming: Any particular one in mind?
Lt. Columbo: No, nobody special. Just - just a type.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Like a murderer, for instance?
Lt. Columbo: Well, yeah, now that you mention it. I guess we're on the same wavelength.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Yes, I guess we are.
Dr. Ray Flemming: What about this hypothetical murderer?
Lt. Columbo: Well, I'm not talking about your average hothead, you know, the guy who pops somebody over the noggin with a bottle. What I mean is, uh, the kind of man that, uh, figures everything out in advance, who takes everything step by step. What do you know about that kind of man, Doctor?
Dr. Ray Flemming: I should charge you for this, but since it's on a theoretical basis, let's just call it a free consultation. All right. We are talking about a man who commits a crime, not the garden variety barroom brawl, but an elaborate intellectual project. What do we know about this man? Obviously, he's not impulsive. He plans, he calculates. He minimizes risks. He's oriented by his mind, not by his emotions. And he's probably well educated, too.
Lt. Columbo: Like maybe a professional man?
Dr. Ray Flemming: Like maybe. At any rate, an orderly man with an eye for detail and courage.
Lt. Columbo: Courage?
Dr. Ray Flemming: Oh, certainly. To go through a thing like this, whatever it may be, it takes a strong nervous system.
Dr. Ray Flemming: With all that experience, you jumped to the wrong conclusion.
Lt. Columbo: What do you mean?
Dr. Ray Flemming: I didn't kill my wife.
Lt. Columbo: I never said that you did.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Oh, that's true. Imply. "Imply" is more the word. But if I killed my wife - and I did say "if" - you're never going to be able to prove it.
Lt. Columbo: You know what I think the problem is? I think I'm too suspicious. I don't trust people. That's my trouble. For instance, when I get taken off a case, right away I figure somebody put the pressure on. Right away I ask myself why. What do you think, Doc?
Dr. Ray Flemming: I think you'd better get out of here.
Lt. Columbo: Beg your pardon?
Dr. Ray Flemming: Columbo, you're a public servant. You say you've been taken off the case, fine. Bother me again, and I shall have to talk to your superiors.
Lt. Columbo: You've been talking to a lot of people these days, Doctor.
Lt. Columbo: Miss Hudson? I hope you understand that this is only the beginning. In a way, I feel sorry for you, because from now on, I'm going to do everything I can to break you down. Do you understand? Doctor Flemming made one mistake and you're it. You're the weak link, Miss Hudson. Now, you surprised me today, because you were strong, but there's always tomorrow and the day after that... and the day after that... and sooner or later, you're going to talk to me. Until you do, you're going to be questioned. You're going to be followed... and you're going to be hounded... and Doctor Flemming can't do anything about it. You're on your own, Miss Hudson and I'm going to get to him through you. That's a promise.
Dr. Ray Flemming: [Dr. Ray Flemming stands at the window of his girlfriend's apartment with his back towards Columbo. He laughs at what Columbo has just mentioned about Miss Hudson being dead and that he has nothing to live for and that maybe he'd want to confess to the murder of his wife. He turns around and speaks to the lieutenant] You're a very funny man.
Lt. Columbo: I wasn't trying to be funny.
Dr. Ray Flemming: But you are, more than you know. So you want me to purge myself? My one and only love is dead and I have nothing more to live for, is that it?
Lt. Columbo: All I'm saying, Doctor, is that if you love that girl...
Dr. Ray Flemming: Love that girl? Look, Columbo, I overestimated you. I thought you understood about human nature. I never loved that girl.
Lt. Columbo: Come on, Doc.
Dr. Ray Flemming: No, really. Remember that hypothetical murder that we were talking about? He needed an alibi. The girl was available, so he used her. It was as simple as that.
Lt. Columbo: No. You killed your wife because you were in love with the girl.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Well, if I killed Carol, then there's no proof that I did it. I did it for myself, not for some dime-a-dozen little actress.
Lt. Columbo: She helped you with the murder. You'd have had to marry her.
Dr. Ray Flemming: Not really. Something would've been arranged, like an accident maybe.
Joan Hudson: Always planning ahead, aren't you, Ray?
Joan Hudson: [Dr. Flemming turns around and sees her girlfriend standing there, alive. Understandably, he's dumbfounded] He said there was something I should hear.
Lt. Columbo: [He goes over to her, then looks out the window in the door and realizes that the woman who was assumed to be the late Miss Hudson is a fake. Knowing that he has just been beaten by Lieutenant Columbo, he quietly surrenders and has a smoke outside] Would you like to make a statement now?
Lt. Columbo: [Miss Hudson nods. Columbo tries to find something to write with, but can't. A detective offers him a pen or a pencil] Why don't we sit down? We'll be more comfortable.
[They do just that while Doctor Flemming takes a smoke outside the apartment, ending the pilot]
Lt. Columbo: Lieutenant Columbo.
Burt Gordon: My name's Gordon. I'm with the District Attorney's Office.
Lt. Columbo: Yes sir, I know.
Burt Gordon: I appreciate it. Anything you can do for Dr. Flemming, he's a good friend of mine.
Lt. Columbo: I'll try.
Burt Gordon: Any, uh, any progress so far?
Lt. Columbo: Well, it's, uh, still a little early, but, uh, you know, sooner or later, something usually breaks.
Burt Gordon: Mmm-hmm. Well, let's make that "sooner," right, Lieutenant?
Lt. Columbo: Try my best.
Burt Gordon: Yeah, I'm sure you will.