Columbo: Season 2, Episode 1

Étude in Black (17 Sep. 1972)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 1,211 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), (story), 3 more credits »
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Title: Étude in Black (17 Sep 1972)

Étude in Black (17 Sep 1972) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Episode complete credited cast:
Paul Rifkin
Janice Benedict
Jenifer Welles
Lizzy Fielding
Mike Alexander
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 Columbo interviews Paul Rifkin, the horn player in the jazz bar, the whiskey bottle to Paul's right disappears and reappears between shots. See more »


Lizzy Fielding: Alex likes all that glamor, I suppose, but what have actors got to do with music?
Janice Benedict: Mother, they're people, too.
Lizzy Fielding: I doubt it.
See more »


References A New Leaf (1971) See more »


Composed by Euphemia Allen (aka Arthur de Lulle) 1877
Played by Peter Falk on piano.
See more »

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User Reviews

One of the better made Columbo movies.
7 March 2008 | by (Groningen, The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

Story-wise this isn't among the best or most cleverly written Columbo movie but the movie is extremely well made, with excellent directing and truly fine acting.

Especially the acting within this movie attracts the attention. Director Nicholas Colasanto did a great job with the actors in the movie. Appereantly he allowed Peter Falk and John Cassavetes lots of space to play with, also since both are being credited on here as uncredited directors of this movie. Must be part of his directing style to allow the actors this much room. It works out extremely well for this movie. Perhaps he did this because Colasanto himself also used to work as an actor. He is perhaps best known for playing the role of Coach in the hit-series "Cheers", from the very start of it in 1982 until his death in 1985.

So Peter Falk seems better than ever before in his role as Lt. Columbo. Also veteran actor John Cassavetes does a real great job as the movie its murderer and is a good match for the lieutenant. Beside them, the movie also features Myrna Loy. A big star from the silent movie era and also Pat Morita, in a small early role.

But not just the acting-directing within the movie is real good. Visually and technically it's also a really great made movie, with slow long shots, without the use of any cuts. Also obviously the reason why this movie is longer than most Columbo movies. It really takes its time to set up things and tell its story. The movie also features a couple of nice artistic and experimental kind of shots. Of course all really fitting for the '70's.

But like I said before, story-wise this just isn't among the best Columbo movies. Also the clues being left out for the lieutenant are a bit too obvious this time. It makes the murderer come across as a bit dumb, like he didn't thought his plan over good enough, while the character obviously is an intelligent man. Columbo this time also tries to irritate the suspect and other characters a bit more than he usually tries to do, in order to solve the crime. This and Peter Falk's different acting approach are a reason why his character might come across as different than he does in other Columbo movies. But different does not mean worse in this case.

The movie also features a quite good musical score by Richard DeBenedictis, who after this became sort of the steady composer for the Columbo movies.

A great Columbo movie to watch!


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