Columbo (1971–2003)
30 user 7 critic

Étude in Black 

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


Nicholas Colasanto, John Cassavetes (uncredited) | 1 more credit »


Steven Bochco (teleplay by), Richard Levinson (story by) | 3 more credits »




Episode complete credited cast:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
John Cassavetes ... Alex Benedict
James Olson ... Paul Rifkin
Blythe Danner ... Janice Benedict
Anjanette Comer ... Jenifer Welles
Myrna Loy ... Lizzy Fielding
James McEachin ... Billy Jones
Don Knight ... Mike Alexander
Pat Morita ... The House Boy
Michael Pataki ... Sam (scenes deleted)
Michael Fox ... Dr. Benson
Dawn Frame Dawn Frame ... Audrey
Charles Macaulay Charles Macaulay ... Durkee
George Gaynes ... Everett
Wallace Chadwell 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


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

17 September 1972 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Etude i sort See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Pat Morita, who became famous for his role as "Miyagi" in The Karate Kid (1984), makes an appearance in this episode as "The House Boy." See more »


The cameras in front of the orchestra at the concert are not positioned correctly in order to get the two shots of the stringed instrument sections. 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 »

Alternate Versions

This two-hour TV movie was also prepared in a 90-minute version which played on Canadian television, and is reputed to be the superior of the two cuts. See more »


Featured in Pioneers of Television: Crime Dramas (2011) See more »


6th Symphony, 4th Movement
Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

One of my personal favorites!
18 May 2006 | by SylviastelSee all my reviews

This Columbo episode is one of the better and perhaps one of my personal favorites. The cast includes Rosemary's Baby John Cassavetes as the maestro, his wife played by Blythe Danner (Gwyneth Paltrow's mom) and his mother-in-law played by Myrna Loy (one of America's greatest leading actresses in film of our time). Anyway I disagree with anybody who criticizes against this film. This episode is one of my favorites because you have an excellent cast who do a superb job in performing. I love watching Columbo with his beloved dog who he never names in the series. This time, the episode focuses in on classical music at the Hollywood Bowl, one of L.A.'s attractions. Of course, Columbo becomes as interested in classical music as he does anything else involving a crime.

6 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 30 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed