"Columbo" Suitable for Framing (TV Episode 1971) Poster

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Columbo in the world of art
Petri Pelkonen9 July 2008
Dale Kingston (Ross Martin), a famed art critic kills his uncle for his notable collection of paintings.And so enters Lt.Columbo the scene smoking cigars and asking questions.Columbo:Suitable for Framing (1971) is another great installment to the Columbo series.There was always a great deal of humor there.It's quite funny when that lady is showing him all those photos and he's anxious of seeing just one.Peter Falk is really one of the kind and the only one that could play this character.Ross Martin makes a great villain.Kim Hunter plays the victim's ex-wife Edna Matthews.The legendary Don Ameche is Frank Simpson.I had fun, once again, watching Columbo solving the crime.Columbo never lets me down.
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One of my Faves
tagehri12 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
One of my favorite Columbo movies for many, many reasons--a well-executed crime with seemingly no trail to follow, an exasperated suspect, and one of the best of all "Columboisms" you'll find in the series.

Columbo's criminals usually follow a pattern in doing themselves in. Sometimes its the smallest details forgotten in the commission of the crime, other times their undoing comes in covering their tracks later. Suitable for Framing follows the latter mold of Columbo's.

The Wild, Wild West's Ross Martin is an art critic who kills his uncle to frame his aunt following a change in his uncle's will disinheriting him. Martin leaves only just enough clues to arouse Columbo's suspicions, but not enough to slam the door shut.

Martin plays the exasperated criminal perfectly, becoming increasingly frustrated with Columbo's failure to take the bait on the frame-up until finally he overplays his hand, resulting in his undoing in one of the better closing scenes you'll see.

Most importantly is this movie's Columboism--Columbo falls asleep in the Martin's apartment after Martin graciously allows him to search it for evidence of the crime.
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Yet Another Classic
stubbers2 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The murder in "Suitable For Framing" must be one of the earliest to occur in all the Columbo films. No lengthy build-ups here, just a short burst of piano music interrupted within seconds by a gunshot. I always remember this episode and its startling introduction from years ago, and it's probably the one I've seen most of all.

Dale Kingston is a tremendous villain. I love the fact that he is so short-tempered, nasty and utterly disdainful of Columbo. I have no problem at all with there being no love lost between the two of them, it means there is always tension in the air!

Columbo's facial expression at the end is awesome (even though I ticked the "spoilers" box, I still don't want to reveal exactly what his evidence is). Without saying a word, he conveys with his eyes: "Come on mate, why are you making such a fool of yourself?! Everyone knows you did it, so why not just quit all this pointless shouting and getting angry, it's ridiculous!"

Up there with "Death Lends A Hand" as one of the standouts of the first series.
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The Best Columbo Ending of All Time
Mark C. Robinson5 July 2007
Seeing Ross Martin duel with Columbo is a treat. Whereas his best-known character, Artemis Gordon from "The Wild Wild West," was laid-back and mischievous, his portrayal of art critic Dale Kingston embodies the worst traits of a professional critic: cold, calculating, and arrogant. He makes the perfect antagonist for the rumpled detective. Kingston appears to cover all his bases, manipulating everyone (but Columbo) for his own ends, whether through seduction, simpering, or browbeating. For awhile, he even stymies the great detective. But in the end, he is shocked to discover that Columbo has been one step ahead of him, besting the art critic with what has to be the most unexpected piece of evidence in a surprise ending! I never tire of watching this episode!
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very entertaining
stones784 June 2010
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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What a great ending!
TheLittleSongbird7 March 2012
I have said many times that I love Columbo, and while Suitable for Framing is not one of my favourites of the series, there are so many things to love about it. I do agree that there is the odd noticeable continuity error such as with the paintings and the fruit bowl, but they weren't so frequent to distract myself from watching a highly entertaining episode. The locations and fashions are striking, once you get past Dale Kingston's over-sized bow tie, and Suitable for Framing is slickly edited mostly, and the music is fitting with the setting and adds to the mood. The story is very clever, with one of my favourite endings of any of the Columbo episodes because of Falk's facial expression that speaks so many words without saying anything and there is quite a bit of tension here as well, and the episode is tightly written, with a perfect balance of the humorous and the intense. Peter Falk is brilliant as always, and Ross Martin's short-tempered and disdainful Kingston really contrasts well with Columbo. Don Ameche was a fine actor, and a pleasure to see here, and Kim Hunter is also good. All in all, a great Columbo with a great ending. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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Gut Instinct
bkoganbing5 August 2012
A nice cast is the prime attraction for this Columbo episode where a noted art critic murders his uncle in order to inherit his art collection. Ross Martin plays the critic who is one of the least sympathetic villains ever in a Columbo feature.

For one thing Martin commits two murders, not only the uncle but also of a fawning art student whom he cons into helping him with the murder. And also he spends the entire episode smirking at Peter Falk who can't quite touch him. Finally when cornered a bit, he throws suspicion on the estranged wife of the victim played by Kim Hunter.

Actually Martin should have gotten away with it. He very cleverly faked the time of death with a really simple gimmick I won't reveal to give himself an alibi. But since Columbo got the scent he spent the episode just working on gut instinct that Martin was the killer.

Don Ameche as the family attorney, Rosanna Huffman as the luckless art student and Mary Wickes as her landlady all contribute nicely to the story. But Martin is one villain you are really glad to see Columbo nail.
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early Columbo episode delivers
bcstoneb44415 December 2014
This early Columbo is a good one, mostly for the chemistry between Peter Falk and villain Ross Martin. Martin is deliciously cast as a pompous art critic, and indeed Dale Kingston is a self-centered, arrogant sort even by the standards of Columbo murderers. And the interplay between Falk and Martin is superb throughout. Mary Wickes and Vic Tayback contribute nice cameos. And Don Ameche is fine as the well-meaning family attorney. And how about that blonde, nude (alas, strategically covered-up) model? I may be in the minority in that I felt the ending, while satisfying in a poetic justice sort of way, was a little too abrupt. Also the Kim Hunter characterization as the ditsy ex-wife didn't work for me. Small criticisms, however, in a most enjoyable offering.
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Short and snappy early Columbo
Leofwine_draca30 December 2015
A straightforward Columbo story, short and snappy enough to never outstay its welcome. The background involves the world of art collection with the main murder suspect an art critic who bumps off his wealthy uncle in order to inherit his priceless art collection.

The backdrop is a decent one and allows for some good-natured scenes in which the bumbling detective attempts to get to grips with the world of modern art. Although the guest villain, Ross Martin, was unknown to me, he gives a fun performance and gets to harangue the dogged detective at key moments, which is always fun.

The supporting cast incorporates the familiar faces of Don Ameche and Kim Hunter (star of the PLANET OF THE APES films) who give good support. Falk is on strong form here and the presence of an almost unbreakable alibi makes the mystery solving fun. As a whole, SUITABLE FOR FRAMING is a story hard to dislike.
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Art is right up Artemus Alley, Frame & All
DKosty12321 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very good episode of Columbo. It is directed by Hy Averback who directed a lot of F Troop episodes among many TV credits. The guest cast is tremendous.

Ross Martin who had recovered from illnesses which plagued his last season of The Wild Wild West. Interestingly, his character here uses the same last name (Kingston) that he uses on the Wild West episode THE NIGHT OF THE RUNNING DEATH. Martin is in good form here.

Don Ameche, and Vic Tayback are among the veteran character actors appearing in this one too. At one point in this, Kingston has Columbo convinced he has no reason to have killed anyone. Then, he tries to frame the one person who he needs to frame in order to have a motive and Columbo outsmarts him.
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Simplistic but entertaining Columbo adventure
The Welsh Raging Bull14 February 2005
A very brisk, hastily edited and somewhat more simplistic Columbo that we've become accustomed to: some scenes have untidy editing or continuity errors in them (the pictures that are on or off the wall after the murder; the scene where the murderer does up his tie in the make-up chair; and the removal of the fruit bowl off the table near the end of the film, which results in one piece of fruit falling on the floor etc.).

Nevertheless, this story is entertaining enough for the undemanding viewer and the resolution is not predictable in any way.

Ross Martin is quite aggressive in his role as the murderer and he seems to get perturbed by Columbo's persistence extremely early on, but his performance satisfactorily illustrates his characterisation's misplaced self-confidence.

Not vintage Columbo, but pleasing viewing nonetheless.
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Aunt Edna and Lt. Columbo — separated at birth?
Paul Hughes15 March 2013
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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interesting, early Columbo
blanche-210 December 2005
Dale Kingston (Ross Martin) is a TV personality and art critic who knocks off his uncle in order to inherit his art collection. To do so, he enlists the help of a bedazzled, untalented art student, whom he promises to help with her career. The two make it look like a robbery, Kingston intending to frame his uncle's ex-wife (and heir), played by Kim Hunter. It might have worked, but guess who's assigned to the case.

This is very entertaining, and of course, the original Columbos like this one were the best. A couple of the plot points are similar to the pilot for the series, which starred Gene Barry. Dangling the prospect of marriage, Barry uses his girlfriend in a plot to kill his wife.

Ross Martin was an effective actor who died too young, and he's marvelous as the critic, and Kim Hunter is fabulous as the frail, ditsy, ex-wife. One of the posters seemed to know her from Planet of the Apes. She has a few other credits, including the role of Stella in the original "Streetcare Named Desire," which she repeated in the film version and won an Oscar. She would be blacklisted during the McCarthy era, but she overcame this and continued her career. Her testimony to the New York Supreme Court in 1962 against the publishers of "Red Channels" helped pave the way for clearance of many performers unjustly accused of Communist connections.
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Good start for the 70's supersleuth
foz-322 April 2000
This is one of the first in the series and also one of the best. The clever storyline revolves around an acclaimed art critic who murders his wealthy relative in order to get at the inheritance. This episode sets the central theme for the whole of the series. All of Columbo's suspects appear to be members of high society and own plush apartments or large modern houses.

One of the things that attracts me to early Columbo's is how amusingly dated they now appear. In this episode the first thing you notice is the dreadful crushed velvet dinner-jacket and huge bow tie that the central character, Dale Kingston, wears. Later, he goes to a chitzy art exhibition where lots of art luvee's wearing silk neck-ties reside. In every scene, you hear a never-ending bossa-nova tune in the background as Kingston makes cutting remarks and jokes with artists. The cars people drive are ridiculously huge with ultra springy suspension. After all this is 1971, when flares were just starting to become wider and cars were pre-emissions. There are interesting appearances by Don Ameche and Kim Hunter, the latter will be best remembered for being a monkey in the Planet of the Apes series. If you like Columbo and like to see how tasteless wealthy Americans were back then, watch it.
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Tightly Written Early Columbo With A Terrific Ending
ShootingShark21 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Dale Kingston is an art critic who has been written out of his rich uncle's will, so he hatches a plot to bump the old guy off and frame it on an ex-wife. Lieutenant Columbo however finds his alibi suspiciously too tight, and is out to break his story.

Nicely scripted by Jackson Gillis, this is an enjoyable but unexceptional early Columbo. The best bit is the last three minutes, where the smarmy villain gets outsmarted good and proper with a truly ingenious bit of business involving fingerprints. Martin is not the best Columbo villain; he's a bit too loathsome - he kills a defenceless old guy, a young woman he pretends to be in love with and tries to pin it on a weak-minded lady - but the pleasure comes from watching Columbo bait him into incriminating himself, Columbo's standard modus operandi. Hunter is good as the nervous chatterbox ex-wife, and Wickes and Tayback are both funny in small parts as a landlady and a grumpy artist respectively. A minor TV mystery, but still a lot of fun, due as usual to Falk's fine acting chops.
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In the End Columbo Degas the Right Guy
BaronBl00d30 June 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I love the Columbo concept to begin with. These are mysteries where we, the audience, already know who the killer or killers are. We know how the murder was done. We, in fact, are privy to everything which means Columbo as a mystery show fails. But it is a mystery where we watch a policeman find a way to prove someone is guilty. It is never about whether or not that individual is guilty. It really is an amazing concept. I digress. This episode has Ross Martin kill his uncle so that he may take his art collection over as Martin is an art critic. We get Columbo learning about art, walking in on a beautiful nude being painted, wanting to look at watercolors, and offer his opinion when generally not solicited. Falk is always in fine form and Martin makes a good antagonist. The supporting players like Don Ameche, Kim Hunter(for me best-remembered from The Planet of the Apes), Vic Tayback, and the comical Mary Wickes in, for me, the best scene in the episode, as she is looking for a photo for Detective Columbo but stops and gives information about every other photo - the whole time Falk is looking into space, rolling his one eye, and trying to maintain his nice police persona. The ending, as aforementioned by many others, is the best part of the episode though I do feel that as a Columbo script goes - this one has some flaws. But it is very worthwhile and fun nevertheless.
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Columbo and the art world.
Boba_Fett113829 February 2008
This is a great and enjoyable Columbo movie entry in the long running series of Columbo movies. It's slightly even better than the average Columbo movies.

I liked the movie its style. Director Hy Averback (Hy?) did a great job with it! You can really tell by its that this is a '70's movie. Having a typical '70's atmosphere has never harmed a movie, so that's a real positive thing.

Because the movie its story is set in the world of art, the movie features a whole bunch of quirky characters, which of course makes the movie also really pleasant to watch. This time the only quirkiness doesn't come from the Columbo character alone.

Actually the story is not that much special in its core and the killing itself and the whole plan around it also isn't among the best or most ingenious ones but the movie is greatly paced and due to its style and plenty of humor this movie is great watch.

Despite the fact that the movie doesn't really feature any big names in it, besides Peter Falk himself. it really doesn't hurt the movie, since the actors portraying the main characters in this movie are obvious capable ones. Ross Martin plays a great role as the movie its murderer. It's quite a good character as well. A great match for Lieutenant Columbo.

Yet another greatly watchable Columbo TV-movie.


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The formula is in place in a standard Columbo film that is enjoyable but not among the best Columbo films
bob the moo22 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Well known art critic Dale Kingston kills his Uncle in order to inherit his vast collection of paintings. Dale then steals two pictures and heads off to a gallery to establish his alibi. Meanwhile his partner, student Tracey O'Connor, sorts out the house and fires off a fake shot to attract the police and give them a false time of the murder. Kingston returns to his Uncle's estate to find the police there and "learns" of the murder and the theft but, as his Uncle's sole relative, Lieutenant Columbo suspects that he must have had something to do with it. While he is forced to accept Kingston's alibi, Columbo cannot help but feel that it is too perfect an alibi and that it too perfectly covers all bases and begins to pressure him to see if he cracks.

As with many TV film series (such as Perry Mason), if you like one or two of them then you'll pretty much like them all. This entry in the Columbo series pretty much follows the usual formula – we know the killer and the "perfect" plan but then watch Columbo follow his hunch and gradually starts to pick holes in the story he is told before eventually finding enough to prove his suspicions. Saying this is not a spoiler – it is simply what happens in all the films. Here we waste no time getting down to business and our victim is gone before the opening credits have finished rolling and it isn't long before Columbo is in there with his usual rambling prying. Fans will enjoy it because it does everything we expect from these films and does it well enough but it isn't one of the best Columbo films you'll see. The "chase" is good but not great fun because the material isn't there and, although the ending is well delivered, it is all a bit too convenient or even fortunate.

Falk is on good form as ever, playing his unassuming but sharp character with the crumpled confidence that he can now do in his sleep. Martin is pretty good in some scenes but he tends to get annoyed by Columbo as opposed to having a real chemistry with him or joining in the game he plays. Support is surprisingly stellar with roles for Don Ameche and Kim Hunter but as with all these things the film belongs to the two lead actors and they do well enough with the material to make the film work.

Overall this is an OK Columbo film but not one of the best. The crime is clever without being over elaborate but the "chase" isn't as good as in other films and the ending is satisfying but smacks more of good fortune rather than great detective work. Fans will still enjoy it because the formula is all in place and, while not brilliant, it is still about par for the Columbo series.
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Suitable for Framing
Prismark107 January 2018
This is a great early episode of Columbo. A wealthy art collector is killed with several valuable paintings gone missing.

Columbo immediately suspects the victim's nephew , art critic Dale Kingston (Ross Martin.) He is after all thought to be the only living relative and sole heir.

However Kingston was at a party at the time, he is cocky, arrogant and has an alibi to fall back on. There is also the victim's ex-wife who seems to have incriminating evidence pointing towards her.

Columbo stories are never a whodunnit. We know who did it. It is a case of if they can get away with it.

I would love to have known why Columbo suspected KIngston in the first place. What struck me about this episode was how well Ross Martin acted here, he did a lot of a little things and made it look so easy.
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The Art Collector
AaronCapenBanner20 February 2016
Ross Martin plays a successful but cold-hearted art critic named Dale Kingston who murders his wealthy uncle and art collector in order to inherit his valuable collection, and gets help from his young art student girlfriend in order to establish an alibi, but this doesn't fool Lt. Columbo(Peter Falk) who is convinced of his guilt, but must break the airtight alibi, though Kingston will be forced to dispose of the girlfriend and frame his uncle's ex-wife(played by Kim Hunter) who was first to inherit the paintings, but makes the mistake of under-estimating the clever detective... Good mystery with Martin a standout and resolution quite satisfying.
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Best in Season 1
abcs9915 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This was the best of the first season's episode, for it was a seemingly-innocent "occurrence" that provided the key evidence that was later used on the murderer. All of the other episodes of this season were the typical ones of this genre where the evidence is made obvious or, in one case, the evidence was suggestive but was questionable whether it would hold up in court. This is not to say that the subtle clue in this episode was to the level of the Ellery Queen series (starring the late Jim Hutton), where there were sometimes multiple clues that weren't always obvious, but this case stood out from the others in season 1 on this basis.
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Not a classic, but watchable
jbsalmonnc13 September 2006
Not really a classic Columbo-Ross Martin isn't a suitable heavy. He's better as a likable sort-as in his Wild Wild West role. And the comments they've written for him to spew as an art critic are laughingly banal, since the man is supposed to be a world-renowned critic. This is yet another Columbo episode in which a high culture type is the killer. (That would be a spoiler on any show but Columbo, where you know pretty much from the outset who did the killing.) There is some fun stuff here. I enjoyed seeing Joan Shawlee, who has a nice turn as an art gallery owner (and who was in Some Like it Hot and The Apartment), in this episode. And the scene between Falk and veteran character actress Mary Wickes is wonderful-so much chemistry between these long time Hollywood pros. And of course it's neat to see another Hollywood legend, Don Ameche, in this one, though his role is fairly small.

The story is thin, and doesn't make much sense-why was the art student, for example, willing to participate in a killing? We're told it would further her career, but how? And Falk seems to be looking for his footing as Columbo, this early in the show's run. Still, if you're a big fan of the series, as am I, you'll enjoy this one.
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Columbo has always been a favorite character of mine
drtturner20 July 2002
I use to think that the personality that Detective Philip Columbo employed was what many could learn from in their ventures. He put aside formality and approached his job with a dogged unrelentingness. I thought, more people should know of this style. To my surprise, I found a trivia clipping which revealed that the Columbo is based on a Eastern Philosophical word of wisdom that in effect says appear weak and finish strong. I particularly enjoyed this episode of a greedy nephew who steals art from his uncle. The ending is classic. In a time when people claim that there are no role models, we all should approach our work, school and careers with as much vigor. One good thing about Columbo as the template of excellence is that we don't have to feel bad about that empty burger rapper we been meaning to throw away from the back of our car.
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A Better Columbo!
Syl18 May 2006
I love Columbo and I won't deny it. A relative got me hooked on it when I was younger. It's one of the better episodes. I love watching Columbo going to the art gallery. That's a classic comic scene in my opinion. Alice's Vic Tayback plays an artist and Oscar winner Kim Hunter also has a small part. Who would have thought that paintings and art would be an interesting topic for a Columbo episode but it works just fine. Anyway, the classic scene is how Columbo approaches art more like somebody who would mistaken air conditioning for a work of art than an art expert. The episode focuses on art, greed, and family relations. All in all, the episode is one of the better ones of Columbo. It's worth noting to see Vic Tayback and Kim Hunter in it as well.
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Get the Picture!
sol6 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** It's when Uncle Rudy Matthews is found murdered in his mansion that Let.Columbo, Peter Falk, is put on the murder case to find his killer. Right from the start something smells fishy to Columbo in Rudy's murder in that his corpse seemed to have been tampered with in that his body heat is some 20 degrees higher then the room temperature. We already saw that Rudy was in fact murdered by his art critic nephew Dale Kingston, Ross Martin, who's due to inherit Uncle Rudy's entire art collection! It later turns out that Dale had an accomplice in the murder of Uncle Rudy his lover and former art student Tracy O'Connor, Rosana Huffman. It's Tracy whom he promised to make a star in the art world by giving her works very favorable reviews. What Dale is really planning to do is knock Tracy off after she outlive her usefulness for him which is just about now!

Being on top of things as usual Columbo smells something foul in Dale's explanation about his chubbiness with Uncle Rudy since the two haven't been getting along with each other as of late. With Tracy later found dead at the bottom of a valley due to a car accident, that Dale staged for her, Columbo is soon on to him in knowing that Tracy was involved with him in a painting of her's later being found hanging in Dale's home.

It's when Uncle Rudy's will is finally read by family lawyer Frank Simpson, Don Ameche, which leaves Rudy's entire art collection to his ex-wife Edna, Kim Hunter, that it suddenly becomes clear to Columbo at least what was behind Rudy's murder! And why all the clues seem to lead straight to her! As it turned out Dale planted them in order to get her out of the way by having her convicted in Rudy's murder! Thus with a victim's killer not legally being entitled to his or her estate Dale can get his hands on Rudy's multi-million dollar art collection that his uncle kept him from getting!

***SPOILERS*** Columbo in getting the not so smart Dale Kingston,in underestimating Columbo's detective skills, to indite himself in Uncle Rudy's murder in fact left enough evidence to indite himself as well! This complicated move on Columbo's part completely flipped out the by then totally destroyed Dale who never in a million years expected that, Columbo's bumbling but extremely effective bait and switch trick, from happening!
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