Columbo: Season 2, Episode 1

Étude in Black (17 Sep. 1972)

TV Episode  |  Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 1,304 users  
Reviews: 23 user | 5 critic

An amoral conductor murders the gifted pianist with whom he is having an affair. Lt. Columbo is on the case.


, (uncredited) , 1 more credit »


(teleplay by), (story), 3 more credits »
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Title: Étude in Black (17 Sep 1972)

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Episode complete credited cast:
Paul Rifkin
Janice Benedict
Jenifer Welles
Lizzy Fielding
Billy Jones
The House Boy
Sam (scenes deleted)
Michael Fox ...
Dawn Frame ...
Charles Macaulay ...
Wallace Chadwell ...
TV Director


Music conductor Alex Benedict has an affair with a pianist. When the pianist threatens to reveal their affair to Benedict's wife, whose wealthy mother owns the company on which Benedict's career is dependent, Benedict decides to permanently silence his mistress. He arranges for her death to look like a suicide by kitchen stove gas asphyxiation. Lieutenant Columbo, a cunning detective in a rumpled raincoat, doesn't believe the pianist took her own life and suspects that Benedict was responsible for her death. He pesters Benedict with constant questions as he searches for clues to place Benedict at the murder scene. Written by Kevin McCorry <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 September 1972 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


The Maestro's large, beautiful home is the same one shown in the opening credits of the TV series Benson (1979). See more »


When Alex is lowering the car in the garage, his pristine overcoat is resting on a metal object at his elbow. Being an auto garage, without question his coat would have been covered in grease - thus more evidence related to having access to the car during the murder. See more »


Jenifer Welles: Well, I thought you might be a little angry.
Alex Benedict: How could I be angry looking at you? I just don't like ultimatums, that's all.
Jenifer Welles: I don't like being a secret mistress. It's not my style.
Alex Benedict: I know that. You told me.
See more »


References Citizen Kane (1941) See more »


Lover Man
Composed by Jimmy Davis
Played by James Olson's combo at jazz club.
This is NOT Jimi Hendrix's "Lover Man." It's the classic jazz song.
See more »

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User Reviews

You can't fool forensics
9 September 2012 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

One of Peter Falk's very good friends from the Actor's Studio in New York John Cassavetes is the culprit in this Columbo episode. Cassavetes is the celebrated conductor of an acclaimed symphony orchestra in the Leonard Bernstein tradition who is having an affair with a young pianist Anjanette Comer. When she threatens to tell about he has to kill her or so he feels. He strangles her and tries to make it look like suicide. But you can't fool forensics and eventually you can't fool Peter Falk.

Cassavetes is famous, but he's also kept. He's married to Blythe Danner who is the daughter of Myrna Loy the wealthy patron of the symphony who keeps it alive with her charity. So when Cassavetes jumped the traces he knew he was playing with fire.

Actually Cassasvetes has a well conceived plan of homicide. But a couple of things like a flower and an echo do him in. You have to watch the episode to see how.

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