Double Exposure

Episode 19 – Double Exposure

The nineteenth episode of Columbo was titled Double Exposure and was the fourth episode of the show’s third season. Subliminal messaging helps in both the commission of a murder and in solving it. In this podcast Gerry and Iain look at the overt and covert messages that lead Columbo to his killer.



Robert Culp returns for his third tour as a Columbo murderer, playing Motivational Researcher Dr. Bart Kepple. We remember Culp’s excellent performances in Season 1’s Death Lends a Hand and Season 2’s The Most Crucial Game and touched on his other career highlights in the notes for those episodes. Culp and Peter Falk dominated screen time in this episode, their sparring proving a highlight as it had been in earlier shows.


Supporting roles were played by Chuck McCann – a prolific voice actor perhaps best known for his role as Duckworth in Duck Tales – as projectionist and second victim Roger White; Robert Middleton – who appeared alongside Elvis Presley in Love Me Tender and had roles in a number of popular Westerns – as the initial murder victim Vic Norris; and by Louise Latham in a brief appearance as Norris’ wife. Latham had a 40-year career in film and television, including guest roles in major shows of the 1990s like ER and The X-Files.


Double Exposure was written by Stephen J. Cannell who would go on to create a number of hit TV shows, including The Rockford Files, Stingray and The A-Team. There is no separate credit for the teleplay, so Cannell takes full credit for this episode. Director Richard Quine returned after helming Season 2 episodes Dagger of the Mind and Requiem for a Falling Star. Quine’s most well-remembered work is in movies from the 1950s and 1960s including Bell Book and Candle and How to Murder Your Wife.


We asked listeners if they could identify the actor playing a waiter in the early part of this episode, so add your thoughts on that or any aspect of Double Exposure below, or find us on Twitter at @columbopodcast.


The Columbo Podcast is widely available – on iTunes, Stitcher, tunein, Pocket Casts or pretty much wherever you choose to receive and manage your podcasts. If you enjoy the show it would be greatly appreciated if you consider leaving ratings and reviews on these sites – particularly iTunes – as that can make a big difference to growing the podcast’s audience.


Double Exposure was released in 1973. It is 70 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.

  • Largo

    Blast! Arlene Martel is listed in the end credits (with an extra ‘L’ added to her last name) for “Double Exposure,” but her scene as Tanya Baker must have been cut out before the actual broadcast. This would have reunited Robert Culp with Arlene Martel since their work together on the classic Outer Limits episode “Demon With A Glass Hand” — one of television’s finest hours of science-fiction.

    • We reckon she might be the model briefly appearing in the advertising film here. Only a glimpse though.

      • Largo

        Sorry, but Arlene is definitely not the model that appears in that promo film. I’ll post a picture when I get back to my home computer — I’m at work, eh. 🙂

      • Largo

        Here is that photo of the “mystery model” from that Keppel promo film:

        • Largo

          Yeah, it’s too bad that we had to miss out on the ever so lovely Arlene Martel as Tanya Baker. This is the only “cheesecake” type picture I could find on the web of Arlene:

          • Largo

            Okay — please forgive me as I indulge in some more Arlene Martel admiration, eh. I’ll post just one more picture — one that is larger and in living color!

          • Ian Baxter

            Mr Norris didn’t stand a chance 🙂

          • Largo

            Heh – you sure got that right, Ian! Now as for me, whenever I see Arlene with her Vulcan ears on, I just go crazy-eight bonkers and I don’t stand a chance, eh! 😉

          • Arabian Knights

            very lovely woman. it is all about flesh, n’est ce pas, for you guys. I was not that intrigued as a woman and looked for some character development.

          • There have been some good female characters on the show up until now. This episode missed that, which was why I raised it on the podcast. Hopefully a blip!

        • CarlosMu

          cue the sexy music… “Now, here’s an item that doesn’t require selling. Exquisite lines, soft and caressable. And, as we know, an invaluable selling aid…” Now on to the desert.

          • Largo

            No — not the desert! The desert is death! Yeah — it’s just like that Dr. Keppel: sex and then death — that sicko!

          • Largo

            Yes, one can sell anything if you place it next to a hot chick in a bikini. Even Salvador Dali got Raquel Welch to help sell one of his worst paintings. To wit:

    • By the look on his face, Robert has the same question I do i.e. why are there only three fingers on this hand?

      • Largo

        Boogers! You really shouldn’t mock this classic Outer Limits episode, Kieran. It was written by Harlan Ellison and he’ll probably sue if he gets wind of this, eh. 😉

        • Never seen the Outer Limits, but I’ll keep an eye out for it now.

  • Largo

    This third season episode of Columbo, “Double Exposure,” succeeds despite itself — since there are some major gaffes in the plot. On the plus side, we have some excellent interplay sequences with the murderer and Columbo and the ‘cat and mouse’ exchanges here are some of the series very best (esp. the golf course scene). But this isn’t too surprising because we’ve got top-notch performances coming from both Peter Falk and Robert Culp and a terrific script penned by Stephen J. Cannell (of The Rockford Files fame).

    Before we get to the good stuff, let’s first deal with this episode’s problems. There is a major continuity error involving Dr. Bart Keppel’s iron-clad alibi at the institute with Columbo and the movie theater where Keppel had to change reels after killing the projectionist (without being seen by anyone — quite the magic trick, eh). Your average film reel holds 14 to 20 minutes of footage and the seven o’clock showing of High Plains Drifter would most likely have an actual start time of 7:10pm. So the reel change would occur at approximately 7:30pm and that means Dr. Keppel had absolutely no time to get back to the institute to entertain Columbo in the editing facility from 7:30pm to 8:30pm — even though Columbo himself clearly states that it would have given Keppel “plenty” of time!??!

    Speaking of changing the film reels brings me to that nickel trick the projectionist used. That whole “there wasn’t a nickel under the second projector” clue doesn’t make any sense to me. Wouldn’t it be more logical for a projectionist to set up both projectors with one nickel in each of the reels on both projectors before the start of the feature film? Columbo is assuming that there is only one nickel used and once it drops from projector one it is picked up and placed in the second projector’s film reel. But why place this one nickel into a moving reel of film on the second projector when you can use a second nickel on a stationary reel way beforehand. I dunno ….

    Another major gaffe in this episode’s plot is the magically fast super film lab that is supposedly under the LAPD’s control at all hours that Columbo utilizes at the finale. There are actually several major steps involved in converting 35mm still slide photographs into usable 35mm motion-picture frames one can splice into that ridiculously mundane promotional film that Keppel is so “proud” of (whatever, dude). But all of this occurs in just a few hours when in reality this complicated conversion process would take a few days!

    However, like I mentioned before — this Columbo episode succeeds despite these major gaffes because overall it is so well written and performed. The small cast is really quite good, but most of the praise has to go to Robert Culp and Peter Falk: they are both superb here! Poor Dr. Keppel the blackmailer just doesn’t know when to quit when he is so far ahead — just like Culp’s Brimmer character in “Death Lends A Hand.” “Double Exposure” has one of the very best finales and “Gotcha!” moments of the whole series. And not only that, but also one of the very best reactions by the murderer, too: “A subliminal cut! You used a subliminal cut!” Great stuff, folks. Be seeing you!

    • Thanks Largo. I hope you enjoy our take on those points you raise!

      • Largo

        I’m positive that I will ’cause you guys rock! I’m looking forward to the podcast tonight, eh! 🙂

        • Jenifesto

          Largo, you’re a fount of knowledge! I’m sitting here trying to figure out the reel situation but you’ve got great insight on that. I can’t figure out why there wouldn’t be two nickels – maybe a nickel was really worth more then? I think that produce in the grocery store scene was selling for six cents a pound! I had a scheme worked out that makes sense, but your saying that the reels were actually quite short means, yea, there’s no time for Keppel to get back to the office!

          Overall, I adore this episode. The acting is just so good! Glad you guys enjoyed it as much!

          (P.S.: I listen to the podcast from Canada, and while doing just about everything: working out, walking to work, on the bus, cooking. There are few bad times for a Columbo podcast!

          • Largo

            Thank you so much for your kind remarks, Jen! And I heartily agree — the performances in “Double Exposure” are truly stellar.

  • Richard Hinton

    Chuck McCann … What a guy.
    Well done for linking his name, in your show notes, to his website. The man is such a talent and I urge everyone to visit this site and explore his range. I especially like him because of his love of Laurel & Hardy – He was one of the founding members of ‘The Sons Of The Desert’, a membership of 300,000+ that celebrate L&H across the world. Chuck does some stunningly realistic impressions of both fellas and there’s hope that he’ll take part in a dubbing of one of their silent films (most likely ‘Double Whoopee’). He’s performed on stage as Ollie with various guest Stans including Dick Van Dyke (nice Columbo connection).

    Anyway, I could praise Chuck all day but, it’s all in the show notes link.

    I will include this link to a 10 minute chat on YouTube which, at the end, shows a small clip of him and Dick Van Dyke … Enjoy.

    • Largo

      Poor Chuck McCann as projectionist, Roger White — he made such a perfect victim. He might as well have had a sign on him saying, “Just shoot me now, Dr. Keppel.” His response when he sees Keppel with the gun is priceless: a bit absurd, a bit tragic, but perfectly in character. However, his scene with Peter Falk was just wonderful — one of the best, eh! Thank you very much for that YT link, Richard!

      Some words of advice for everybody here: whenever you ask someone, “Did you bring the money,” and they don’t respond immediately in the affirmative — just tackle them instantaneously and pummel them because they’re packing heat. 🙂

      • Arabian Knights

        Isn’t that the truth! I felt sorry for him for being such a dumb, likeable schmuck. Also, what was his poor, sick mother going to do now?

        I have to post about annoying Columbo mannerisms. He sticks a spoon into the caviar, consumes the treat and then repeats the gesture! Fellow, you just contaminated it for everyone else! Do you drink milk straight out of the container?

        He’s overdue for a lecture from Mrs Peck (Double Shock).

        • Richard Hinton

          I cringed as well … Until I found this info

          Double Dipping was only made illegal in recent years, in the 70’s it was widespread and acceptable.

          Actually, Mythbusters did an experiment on this crime (see link). Turns out, it’s ok if it only involves the mouth – If it’s a bowl of nuts however, it’s a different matter as fingers have been contaminated with … everything.

          So, in conclusion, scoop as much as you like, Columbo.

          • Arabian Knights

            Thanks so much. I still think it is revolting, however. LOL. Maybe it’s a guy thing?

            Same thing happened in Witness, starring Harrison Ford. He drank milk straight from the container in his sister’s fridge. I would have kicked his butt out for the disrespect.

          • Richard Hinton

            Yeah, I’ll still refrain from and cringe at double dipping.

            At least Vic Norris scooped his caviar onto a cracker, then ate it … Perhaps Mr (haha) Keppel also double dips, and it was a 2nd motive for the murder!

          • Largo

            I don’t care what that cat-hating Mythbuster duo says, eh. Double-dipping is always a crime! As for the mixed nuts: always have a few serving spoons and some small bowls or plates handy, eh. 🙂

        • Largo

          Yeah, a dumb but very likable schmuck. As for his mother: hopefully he had a good insurance policy.

          On Columbo double-dipping the caviar: totally and deliberately gross. I’m a type ‘A’ personality and I always find myself thinking when I see this scene, “Use the blasted caviar wafers, dammit!”

        • CarlosMu

          the thought of how Mrs. Peck would react if she saw him do that actually frightens me.

          • Largo

            But that’s the beauty of it, Carlos. It is so deliciously frightening! 🙂

      • CarlosMu

        I like how he dressed up in a suit when going to blackmail his boss. He must have looked it up in an etiquette guide.

    • Peter

      I haven’t listened to the podcast yet so forgive me if you guys mentioned it. Roger White when he was speaking initially with Columbo, answers a question correctly. Columbo asks him how he knew the answer, and White says, “I don’t know. A shot in the dark.” I always wondered if this was a purposeful allusion to the Pink Panther films (eg A Shot in the Dark), which conjures up the image of the clueless detective Clouseau, which is what Columbo tries to come across as.

  • Richard Hinton

    At this point in the episode, I thought my DVD player was on pause 🙂

  • Ian Baxter

    Great podcast, had a really good laugh with the subliminal cut ‘fan of the week’ you slipped in after the tweet I sent you, thank you very much.

    I should point out that it was in fact Kieran Wright, not me, that drew our attention to Mickey Golden, the uncredited actor from several episodes. I merely expanded on the comments, so credit to Kieran where it’s due.

  • Ian Baxter

    Just a couple of thoughts…

    I love some of the scenes in this episode, perhaps more than the episode as a whole. The moment in the car, as Gerry pointed out, is one of the best.

    The golf scene is just brilliant, at times you wonder if Culp is close to corpsing, it encapsulates the clever mind games and good humour that help Columbo stand out from the crowd.

    The projectionist is very endearing, you do really feel for him at the end. In fact I’d have liked to have seen Columbo get a bit more angry about his death.

    I don’t understand why Dr Kepple brings Tanya Baker’s name into the investigation by using her in the framing Mrs Norris? If the motive behind the killing is that Mr Norris was about to expose Dr Kepple and his use of Tanya then surely this is the last person he would want the police looking at?

    As for how/where I listen to the most excellent Columbo Podcast: I listen at home, in Lancashire, usually once I’ve got in from work, had a meal, and am able to relax with a coffee.

  • CarlosMu

    I heard an interesting theory about the voice that Keppel was doing when calling Mrs. Norris. I always just thought it was a hilarious and random voice, but I heard a theory that he was actually impersonating Roger! Does this make sense to anyone?

    • Ian Baxter

      I don’t quite see how that would be a part of Kepple’s plan (he later claims that Roger and Mrs Norris were in it together), it could perhaps have been an impersonation as a joke between the cast. I was just glad e didn’t opt for the hanky over the phone trick, much better to have an attempt to put on a voice.

      • CarlosMu

        I love the idea of it being a joke. I can imagine, “what kind of voice should I do?” “Do Chuck, ha ha ha”. It definitely is funny seeing such a serious character do such a ridiculous voice.

        • Largo

          Agreed! I always think of one of those generic dopey sounding Hanna-Barbera cartoon voices whenever I hear Robert Culp do this particular voice in “Double Exposure.” 🙂

  • Largo

    Thank you very much for another very enjoyable podcast, gentlemen! I was very amused and kind of surprised by Gerry’s very quick and blunt dismissal of the effectiveness of subliminal messages in various media. I feel that you have to give this particular subject a pass in order to enjoy this episode, so I really didn’t want to address it in my previous comments here. However, I agree that it is a whole lot of horse hockey. But I also agree with you in that I don’t want to nitpick it to death and to just go along for the ride during this Columbo mystery movie.

    Robert Culp is such a cool actor and I really wish that he had appeared in a few more Columbo episodes as the murderer because he is just so superb in these particular roles. For the production crew on The Outer Limits, Culp was known as “Mr. Outer Limits” because of his three major guest-starring roles on this science-fiction anthology series. However, I guess we have to give the “Mr. Columbo Murderer” title to Patrick McGoohan for his four major guest-starring roles. But Robert Culp is a contender, he’s definitely a contender (and so is Jack Cassidy, eh).

    I thought it was great that the lack of a second female character was brought up in your podcast. This burns me to no end because this episode is only 70 minutes long and that’s three minutes short of the standard 73 to 74 minute NBC mystery movie. Arlene Martel as Tanya Baker could have done a lot with those extra minutes — yeah, she’s that good, folks. I apologize that I’m harping once again about the absence of Arlene Martel in this episode and that her part was cut out (for some reason). And Star Trek and pointed ears and Martel portraying Mr. Spock’s almost wife on Vulcan has absolutely nothing to do with this! It’s the principle of the whole thing. 🙂

    “Double Exposure” is an almost great episode and what brings it down a few notches is the sloppy plotting: the aforementioned time discrepancy that Columbo ignores involving the Magnolia theater being on the other side of town (sorry, Gerry: it’s not just five minutes away) and the projector reel change over by Keppel; and the super-speedy film lab that quickly converts slide photographs into usable film frames for equally speedy film splicing — all in a matter of hours instead of days. But even though the finale is a bit rushed, it ends on such a high note with a great “Gotcha!” moment and Keppel’s egotistical and amused response to it.

    Robert Culp and Peter Falk’s superb performances goes a long way here and do so much to compensate for the episode’s shortcomings — and so I still rank it in my top twenty Columbo episodes list. I was very happy to learn that you guys still rank this episode pretty high overall as well. Thanks again for another great podcast, gentlemen! And thanks for your “motives, clues / suspicions and gotcha moments” summary at the end — good stuff, so please continue! Well, I’ve got a sudden urge to head over to iTunes and write up a real glowing review for your Columbo podcast now. Be seeing you!

    • Ian Baxter

      This is the image that comes to mind when you describe listening to the podcast 🙂

      • Largo

        Eegah! That’s Blofeld and his white cat, Lucifer! The caption for this picture should read: “Kill Bond — now!” (and should be said in an irate Donald Pleasence-like voice). BTW, screenwriter Richard Maibaum came up with the white cat for Blofeld — and this cat is not a product from Ian Fleming’s imagination. >^..^< Meow!

        • Ian Baxter

          Sorry… couldn’t find Largo pictured with a cat so had to use some artistic license I’m afraid… please don’t feed me to the sharks… I do hope you have an appropriately Columbo themed name for your cat… Arlene? Carsini? Cat?

          • Largo

            No problemo, Ian! It’s all in good fun. I can no longer have any pet sharks around due to the fact that I moved to the Midwest. Since I’m landlocked now I had to lose the hydrofoil, too.

            I’m afraid that my female cat’s name is not related to Columbo at all, but actually to the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. Unfortunately, my kitty cat trio is now down to one cat: Susie Q. My grey cat, Calvin, and my orange tabby, Hobbes, have both passed on. Susie will be 18 next Tuesday. >^..^<

          • Ian Baxter

            Absolutely love those names, made my day… Calvin & Hobbes are the best… but I guess that’s for a different forum 🙂

  • CarlosMu

    I’ll answer two of your questions at once: I usually listen while making dinner, and this is the first time that I haven’t had to crank up the volume in order to hear you. You are usually very faint! I download the file from this site by the way, when i’ve tried streaming it freezes once in a while.

    • Thanks Carlos, that’s great feedback on the volume. We’re always trying to improve these things!

  • lcfctom

    Does Gerry keep slipping in to calling “Keppel” “Kekkel” or is it just me? 🙂

  • I really enjoyed this episode but must admit that I’ve been a bit keen and watched up to episode 7 (Swan Song). Anyhow, back to this episode, this is my favourite so far of the Culp ones. I felt that, with the other two episodes, he played them very similarly, but with this one, he was markedly different i.e. more mellow, and of that, he was deserving of credit. I loved the way that Columbo used his specialism against him, and despite the fact that there were some obvious holes in the authenticity of some of the story, I felt that all in all, this was really an enjoyable episode and definitely one of my favourites to date. Without spoiling anything for anyone, I have to say that, for any Twin Peaks fans out there, wait ’til you get to ‘Mind Over Mayhem’ in a few weeks – you’re in for a treat…

    • Largo

      Blast! I’m drawing a blank on the Twin Peaks link with “Mind Over Mayhem” since I haven’t seen this one for quite some time. I have to admit that I skipped over this one when I was re-watching my Columbo DVDs not too long ago. Now I have to go and watch this one tonight. Thanks for the heads up, Kieran!

  • Largo

    Just one more thing on the podcast: I forgot to mention that I was elated when I heard that Iain saw Guardians Of The Galaxy multiple times in the theater. Hopefully you got to see this terrific film in IMAX 3D — it was well worth it, eh! This one is for you, Iain:

    • I saw it in IMAX 3D, theatre 3D, theatre 2D and possibly D-Box as well. Great movie.

      • Largo

        Same here: saw it in IMAX 3D with my friends, in Real 3D with a nephew and finally in 2D with my youngest niece — all of us loved this flick! I haven’t had this much fun at a movie since the original release of Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981).

  • Comes With Wings

    This is by far my favorite Robert Culp episode. His line readings as Kepple are simply superb, the best being, “Not a chance, Lieutenant,” on the golf course.

    There’s also a great deal of subtlety in his performance. His scene with Chuck McCann when Roger explains how he knows Kepple killed Mr. Norris is a master class in little touches. I’m entirely convinced that Kepple only decides to kill Roger when Roger agrees to sign the document; look at Culp’s face fall slightly as Kepple realizes he has to terminate his projectionist.

    I’m also of the belief that Kepple tries to convince Vic Norris not to go to the police, and thus, save Kepple from having to murder him.. The ‘martyr complex’ line seems to suggest he’s trying to steer Norris back to compliance with his blackmail demands, but Vic is only biting on the caviar. Yes, Kepple has set everything in motion to kill Norris beforehand, but if Vic had given in, all Kepple had to do was *not* step into the hallway and shoot him.

    My only complaint about “Double Exposure” is the lost Arlene Martel scene. If only they hadn’t left her name in the credits back then, it wouldn’t be bothering me now! 🙂

    • You’d think they’d put that scene on the DVD as an extra!

      Nice observations there, agree completely on Culp’s performance.

  • Tim S. Turner

    Another great episode, fellas. Besides the great interplay between Falk and Culp, I really enjoy one of the only sops to continuity, Columbo mentioning that he was up late working on the Hayward case. Not sure why that tickles me so much, but it does.

  • Eric

    Noticed Milt (the police photographer) at the end is Bud Cort [Harold from from Harold and Maude]

  • Abigail

    Another excellent podcast about another excellent episode. I’m really enjoying working my way through these (albeit two years late). There are so many classic Columbo moments in this episode – iced tea with lovely Roger, the Hayward case reference, the scene at the junction, and the golf course scene to name just a few. Great denouement although I agree it was a little rushed, as was the whole issue of motive.
    Thanks for addressing the lack of screen time for women in this episode – I know Columbo is of its time and I don’t expect it to pass the Bechdel test but all we got was a few seconds with Mrs Norris and a brief glimpse of the apparently caressable lady on the film. The description of her was laughably terrible but I couldn’t quite work out if it was actually meant to be a joke or not.
    To answer the question you asked two years ago, I listen to the podcast in bed at night – the only problem being that the music at the start now seems to have a soporific effect on me so it takes a few attempts to actually get through the whole thing. There’s just something remarkably soothing about listening to someone dissect an episode of Columbo in extraordinary detail…

    • wattawoman

      You are not the only new fan of this site-) Everything posted appears to be several years old. But it’s a really good set of podcasts.