Columbo (1971–2003)
26 user 6 critic

Étude in Black 

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


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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 <>

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Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 September 1972 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


While leading a rehearsal of Mozart's "Eine kleine Nachtmusik", John Cassavetes tells the orchestra "Remember: quasi una fantasia". That particular musical direction does not appear anywhere in this piece. It is famously associated with Beethoven's "Moonlight" piano sonata. Apparently the writers just wanted the character to spout some complicated-sounding music jargon. See more »


Paul Rifkin's nightclub is the basement of the wax museum in "Dagger of the Mind". See more »


Lieutenant Columbo: Can I ask you a personal question?
Alex Benedict: Please.
Lieutenant Columbo: What do you pay in taxes on this place?
See more »


References A New Leaf (1971) See more »


Lover Man
Composed by Jimmy Davis
Played by James Olson's combo at jazz club.
See more »

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User Reviews

love it
10 September 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is another of my favorite Columbos. It sports a top-notch cast, including John Cassavetes, who was never handsomer or sexier, Anjanette Comer, Myrna Loy, and Blythe Danner. Now here's something I've always wondered - had Gwenyth Paltrow been born when this episode was shot, or was Danner pregnant at the time? Thanks to IMDb, I have my answer - she was five months' pregnant. Now I can really feel ancient.

Cassavetes plays a brilliant conductor whose marriage to Danner was apparently to use the social connections of her mother (Loy). He has a mistress on the side, Anjanette Comer, a prominent pianist, but she announces she wants more. She's sick of being back street. On the night of their concert, he gets rid of her and makes it look like suicide. Columbo picks up a few problems immediately. One thing he notices: "You have a beautiful woman here - bedroom eyes - she has money, a body, and a career. Where's the man?" It's wonderful to see Falk and good friend Cassavetes together. There's a very funny episode at the vet with Columbo's Bassett. Everyone in the cast is great.

This is one of the episodes that made Columbo the classic series it became.

18 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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