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 1,368 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)

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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)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ross Martin, who plays the killer, was Peter Falk's acting teacher. See more »


While in the TV studio, Columbo asks Dale if the coffee machine works and Dale confirms it does. After Columbo puts coins in the coffee machine, he instantly removes the cup of coffee from the machine (which should have taken some time for the machine to fill). Columbo waves the hand holding the coffee around as if the cup was empty while talking to Dale. In the same scene we see the cup in his right hand, then it mysteriously disappears, only to re-appear at the end of the scene, where Columbo puts the cup on a table after having never once taken a sip of coffee. 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...
See more »


Etude in E major op. 10 No. 3
by Frédéric Chopin
Heard during the murder sequence
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User Reviews

very entertaining
4 June 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This early season episode has an interesting twist about an art critic who murders his wealthy uncle in order to inherit an elaborate art collection, with the help of a young art student. Ross Martin portrays the snobbish nephew who devised the murderous scheme, and is questioned a few times by Columbo. Martin and Peter Falk have great chemistry, and I believe they were acquaintances many years ago as young actors, and you can tell they're both comfortable with each other in this segment also. Many familiar faces are present, like Don Ameche, Vic Tayback, and Kim Hunter and all add certain flavor in this episode as different, somewhat flamboyant characters. To me, Martin makes this episode shine, and it's especially amusing the way he knows that Columbo is after him, even though the detective plays coy as usual. Watch for some pretentious art types, and strange paintings as well.

My only qualm here is how confident and cocky the suspect acts around Columbo, and practically wears guilt on his sleeve. Many episodes make the suspect a bit too arrogant, and that's after the murder's been committed.

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