Columbo: Season 1, Episode 4

Suitable for Framing (17 Nov. 1971)

TV Episode  |  PG  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,366 users  
Reviews: 22 user | 6 critic

A wealthy art collector is murdered, and all signs point to a robbery gone wrong. But the nephew's alibi is a little too convenient, and Columbo pulls a fast one to ferret out the killer.



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Title: Suitable for Framing (17 Nov 1971)

Suitable for Framing (17 Nov 1971) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Episode complete credited cast:
Frank Simpson
Edna Matthews
Rosanna Huffman ...
Tracy O'Connor
Joan Shawlee ...
Barney Phillips ...
Captain Wyler
Sam Franklin
Curt Conway ...
Claude Johnson ...
Dennis Rucker ...
Parking Boy (Joe)


Lt. Columbo investigates the murder of Rudy Matthews, an art collector found shot to death in his home. The killer is the dead man's nephew, art critic Dale Kingston, who, with the help of his accomplice Tracy O'Connor, effectively masks the time of death to give himself an alibi at an art exhibit. From the outset, Columbo can't quite understand why the thief would have first selected a painting of lesser value before suddenly switching to the two most valuable paintings after the killing. Kingston tries to point Columbo in the direction of his aunt, Matthews' ex-wife Edna. The fact that Matthews left his entire art collection to her seems to support that idea. Columbo isn't buying it and sets a clever trap for him. Written by garykmcd / corrected by statmanjeff

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 November 1971 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Rosanna Huffman who portrays Ross Martin's girlfriend, Tracy O'Connor, is the wife of series co-creator - and writer of this episode - Richard Levinson See more »


When Tracy leaves the mansion, she pushes open the sliding door that had been altered to look like it was jimmied open, and left it wide open while she exited the premises. Moments later, the security guard explores that direction and the sliding doors are once again closed. See more »


Lt. Columbo: I'm gonna tell you something. Do you know that there is a reasonable explanation for everything, if you just put your mind to it? Course, sometimes these things, they pop up. Like with alibis. Do you know in most cases, people, they don't remember what time it is. They forget all that. Like the artist fella; he's all mixed up about the time. And Mrs. Matthews... she don't even remember what time she went to bed last night!
Dale Kingston: Being sober might help, I suppose.
Lt. Columbo: Now with you, Mr. Kingston, it's just...
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from Pictures at an Exhibition
by Modest Mussorgsky
Heard during the cocktail party sequence in the art gallery
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User Reviews

Aunt Edna and Lt. Columbo — separated at birth?
15 March 2013 | by See all my reviews

Dale Kingston murders his uncle Rudy, because he's learned he won't inherit the old man's art collection. He tries to pin the murder on dear, dotty, delightful Aunt Edna, divorced many years earlier from Rudy. There are complications eventually — including from the girl who helps him with the hit on Rudy.

Many episodes start with a huge house, a shot of the exterior, a wealthy someone in the way, and the murder. Kingston plants all the evidence and arranges the crime scene without speaking and in fact during these few moments there is hardly any sound at all. Until the gunshot, and then a doorbell.

Kingston establishes his alibi, such as it is, by attending a gallery exhibit opening reception and looking at his watch multiple times, or asking other people to look at theirs. He thinks his plan rocks, and he thinks everyone else exists to help him carry it out — if only by confirming when he was at the party. Some of the art jokes are pretty good, though.

This is not my favorite episode by far, though it has a high rating here on IMDb. Ross Martin — an actor I generally enjoy and one known for being an acting teacher — descends into madness as the murderer. He starts to screech, and do stupid things. Perhaps it's purposeful, as Columbo comes closer and closer. I dunno; it grates.

One awesome scene is with the landlady, looking at the scrapbook. Watch for it!

Culled from The Columbo Case Files: Season One.

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