Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
3 user

Always a Thief 

Jessica's friend, former jewel thief Dennis Stanton, solves a high-society collector's coin theft and murder.


Walter Grauman


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 2 more credits »




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Lisa Blount ... Andrea Bascomb Douglas
Roscoe Born Roscoe Born ... Langston 'Lanny' Douglas
Aharon Ipalé ... Mahmoud Amini
Shirley Knight ... Grace Lambert
Dina Merrill ... Monica Douglas
Keith Michell ... Dennis Stanton
Chris Mulkey ... Joey Freeman
Ed Nelson ... Raymond 'Ray' Bascomb
James Sloyan ... Robert Butler
Ken Swofford ... Lt. Catalano
Hallie Todd ... Rhoda Markowitz
Marco Lopez Marco Lopez ... Pedro
Jill Jaress ... Deirdre
Virginia Hawkins Virginia Hawkins ... Housekeeper


Jessica narrates a case her dashing British friend, Dennis Stanton, former jewel thief turned insurance agent, solved. Langston 'Lanny' Douglas got his inherited business empire in financial trouble. When millionaire Oriental carpet's merchant Mahmoud Amini offers Lanny $200,000 commission, to convince his mother to sell him the rare 'Stuart Dollar', he accepts. She refuses, so Lanny stages a break-in to steal it, is surprised by the gardener Pedro and kills him. Dennis, well-known to less ingenious police Lieutenant Catalano, soon realizes the safe was opened with the combination and works his way to a trap for both crimes after Lanny Douglas is murdered. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

theft | explosion | See All (2) »


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

8 April 1990 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


[first lines]
Dennis Stanton: [on tape] Well, as you might guess, Jessica, that was a singularly satisfying evening. The beautiful widow, having reverted back to married status, immediately heaped any and all available blame on her husband, poor fellow.
Dennis Stanton: Last time I saw him, he was actually looking forward to prison. Well, that's all I have to report this time. I do hope you're planning a West Coast visit soon. It's been far too long. In fact, the ladies of San Francisco do not measure up to you in any ...
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User Reviews

Coin theft and murder
9 October 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Have always been quite fond of 'Murder She Wrote'. It is a fun and relaxing watch that makes you think as you try to unwind in the evening. If one wants more complex, twisty mysteries with lots of tension and suspense 'Murder She Wrote' may not be for you, but if you want something light-hearted and entertaining but still provide good mysteries 'Murder She Wrote' fits the bill just fine.

Personally like the character of Dennis Stanton, if more with Jessica than on his own and mostly because his chemistry with Jessica is so great and the episodes are much better. He is a fun and compelling lead character, love how distinguished, sophisticated and suave he is, it is easy to be as charmed by me as Jessica is in her too few collaborations. Plus it is hard to not like a character who dresses dapper, drives a cool car and loves classical music and opera, sounds shallow and couldn't resist.

Can definitely understand why fans malign his solo bookend episodes, the best ones to me are this and the episode with Ricardo Montalban while "The Great Twain Robbery" and ventriloquist ones from memory particularly left me indifferent. But the blame doesn't lie with Dennis, don't have a problem with him, but the writing and storytelling. "Always a Thief" is however one of his better bookend episodes and also one of the better bookend episodes in general. Would be lying though when saying it is a 'Murder She Wrote' high-point.

The pacing could have had a little more kick in places and have never cared for the character of the secretary Rhonda. Hallie Todd is annoying smug as a character who's dull in development and neither interesting or endearing in personality, with her line delivery of Rhonda's pretty bad dialogue grating.

Other than that, there's not much wrong. Keith Michell is terrific as Dennis, he oozes charm and charisma, really love his distinguished and suave air that he does better than any other bookend lead character. Matching him every step of the way are one of the best supporting casts in a Dennis Stanton episode, Roscoe Born, Shirley Knight, Dina Merrill and Ken Swofford are particularly good. Only Todd underwhelms.

"Always a Thief's" mystery is one of the better ones in a Dennis Stanton episode, one of the cleverest, least predictable and engaging with both crimes being easy to root for in getting solved. Didn't have a problem with the murderer being obvious early on, it made the murderer more interesting and made their motivations clear.

'Murder She Wrote' has always been good in the production values and gets better with each season. Here they're slick and stylish with a gorgeous location and nostalgia-inducing fashions. The music has energy and has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune. Apart from with Rhonda, the writing is amiable and thought-provoking.

In summary, for a Dennis Stanton bookend "Always a Thief" is pretty good. 7/10 Bethany Cox

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