Suitable for Framing

Episode 4 – Suitable for Framing

The fourth episode of Columbo was titled Suitable for Framing and brought viewers back to the direct conflict between Lieutenant Columbo and a killer that had been seen in the first two episodes of the season. In this podcast Gerry and Iain consider the strengths and weaknesses of Suitable for Framing and whether returning to the earlier approach was a successful decision.

 

 

This episode followed Dead Weight by using a bigger cast than had been seen in the two opening episodes of the season. Even at this stage of the show’s run there are a number of celebrated actors taking roles, with Academy Award winner Kim Hunter and future Academy Award winner Don Ameche playing pivotal parts in this episode as Edna Matthews – the ex-wife and surprise beneficiary of the murder victim – and Frank Simpson – the Matthews family lawyer – respectively.

 

The perpetrator in Suitable for Framing, Dale Kingston, is portrayed by Ross Martin – famous by this point for his work on The Wild Wild West – and his accomplice Tracy O’Connor was played by Rosanna Huffman. Their victim, the art collector Rudy Matthews, was an uncredited role for veteran Robert Shayne.

 

This was a much larger cast than even the previous episode, with Joan Shawlee‘s Mitilda, an art gallery owner, Vic Tayback‘s Sam Franklin, an artist exhibiting at that gallery, Mary Wickes‘ landlady and Curt Conway‘s eager-to-please servant Evans amongst the most noticeable supporting turns. Director Hy Averback was at the helm here for the first of his two Columbo episodes.

 

There was no trivia question this week, but if anyone would like to discuss anything covered in the podcast or related to Suitable for Framing then please feel free to comment here, or find us on Twitter at @columbopodcast.

 

The Columbo Podcast is available on iTunes, Stitcher, tunein, Pocket Casts or pretty much wherever you choose to get your podcasts from. If you enjoy the show then please do consider leaving ratings and reviews on these sites as that can help the podcast a lot.

 

Suitable for Framing was released in 1971. It is 76 minutes long and originally aired on the NBC network. It can be viewed on Netflix in the United States and is available on DVD in other countries, including a comprehensive box set of all eleven seasons released by Universal.

 

The Columbo Podcast Team

The Columbo Podcast Team

The Columbo Podcast team develops, produces and promotes The Columbo Podcast.

  • Richard

    Thought I’d tell you about a little obsession I had with this episode …
    There’s a wonderful scene where Columbo enters Franklin’s studio while he’s painting a nude model – and gets very embarrassed.
    She has a line & makes Columbo blush. She also appears in another scene but has no line.
    The same woman appears in ‘Lady in Waiting’ as a clothing store assistant, helping Beth Chadwick (Susan Clark) pick new, less conservative outfits.
    She’s uncredited, in both, and there appears to be no info on her ANYWHERE.
    I searched online and tweeted those in the know … Nothing. I even e-mailed Alan L. Galpert (author of The Colossal Columbo Quiz Book) who was kind enough to reply, but couldn’t shed any light on her name either.
    It amazes me that, in this time of information availability, she has remained completely anonymous.

    In short … It’s a mystery.

    • Interestingly we tried to get information about her as well. It seems to be a complete puzzle. In a way that makes her all the more interesting!

  • Largo

    Greetings from the Midwest, USA!

    Even though the actual murderer’s scheme involved in this episode is rather obvious, the cast and the now famous conclusion both do a great job of making up for the script’s shortcomings. Yes, that twist in the end involving the fingerprints and that iconic image of Columbo revealing that he is wearing gloves goes a long way for making up for the script’s rather mediocre plotting. Thanks again for another great podcast! Be seeing you!

  • saltyessentials

    Well done, as always, guys. I did have one clarification.

    In the podcast, around the 31 or 32 minute mark, you mention being unconvinced that Columbo believes a professional burglar would rather smash a window than try to disarm the security alarm at the door.

    Actually what Columbo says, when Kingston remarks that it must have been pretty easy for a professional burglar to defeat the patio door’s alarm, is “…professionals, they always pick windows, they’re just easier to crack.” Meaning he believes a professional burglar knows it’s easier to disarm (or “crack”) a security alarm from a window than it is to disarm it from a door. Which is probably not true in the real world. I would think an alarm company selling systems with that kind of weakness would be out of business pretty quickly….

    Looking forward to episode five.

  • Ian Baxter

    Love this episode, one of my favourites.

    Falk and Martin have a good chemistry. I was hooked from the very very start and really enjoyed watching the story unfold.

    Was also interested to read about Ross Martin’s own art work (in your show note link),

    This is the character sketch – The Night of the Inferno (Wild Wild West)…

  • Ian Baxter

    The identity of the life model would appear to be a real tough one to work out, but I recon the same actress also appears in Lady in Waiting (around 52min) as a shopping assistant. Unfortunately she is also uncredited in this episode, so the mystery continues…

  • onecreativegirl

    I am nuts about the pink cactus painting featured in this episode. I have not been able to find any info about it online. Do you know if it was credited to any particular artist? I would love to know more about the artist and get a good look at the painting and maybe even find a print.

  • Joe Barron

    What gets me is the owl. Aunt Edna is the ex wife of a world class art collector, and yet she has some of the tackiest art you’ve ever seen in her own home. The chief example with the drawing of the owl behind the bar, prominent, in the last scene, over Dales shoulder as he mixes the drinks. Why did Dale never comment on her taste?

  • Arabian Knights

    Aunt Edna absolutely sets my teeth on edge! She lives to shop – how stultifying and boring! And her voice is like chalk on a chalkboard. Ouch!

    I have watched the episode again and think it is one of the best. It perfectly captures the time.

    We women were not a bit offended by the way we were depicted, i.e. living our lives to please some man.

    It would be 180 degrees now. Perfect capture of the time.

    I loved how the villain got his comeuppance. Great acting all around.

  • Ciaran Guilfoyle

    I think the interesting thing about this episode is that it is never entirely clear what the murderer’s plans are. At first you think he’s killed his uncle for the ‘usual’ reasons (well, usual for rich selfish people living in mansions in southern California). It’s not until much later that we learn of the murderer’s plan to frame his aunt. But even when that bit of the story emerges it appears as an opportunistic move by the murderer to throw the scent elsewhere, not part of his original plan. It’s only really when Columbo explains this at the end that you see. Then your mind quickly fills in the blanks from earlier: that Tracy was doomed from the start; that the murderer’s casual dismissal of his aunt’s character masked an entirely evil motivation; and that the murderer’s claim to be without motive after the reading of the will only served to inspire Columbo to search for a deeper motive. All the actual evidence did in fact point to the aunt. She could have got into the house easily by ringing the doorbell, shot her ex-husband, faked a break-in, then made off in her high-heels, all while the murderer was innocently enjoying a poor quality showing at a cheap gallery. But once again Columbo shows his ability to see through the evidence, and instinctively knows that ‘the murderer did it’ simply by looking him in the eye within the first 2 seconds of meeting him.

    • Ciaran Guilfoyle

      In fact, in the end the murderer can still get off if he plays his cards right. Columbo still hasn’t placed him at the scene (and strangely he never gets his usual bee in the bonnet about the time of death, and the electric blanket trick all seems rather pointless because of this). So all he has on the murderer is receiving stolen goods (especially as the death of Tracy O’Connor still appears to be an accident). So there is very little evidence indeed to support Columbo – the case for murder would be thrown out of court. But obviously we the viewers know differently, and the most damning piece of ‘evidence’ against the murderer is his struggle for words when Columbo takes his hands out of his pockets and reveals he has been wearing gloves all along. The fact is, the murderer has a big mouth and loves the sound of his own voice, and it is this that will ultimately send him to the gas chamber.

  • David Raskin

    I’m surprised that I can’t find anywhere the clever line that Edna says to Columbo about the uncle when she says he decided to give his paintings away and she mentioned he finally became human which clearly is a reference from Planet of the Apes