Extra Information
Information from: The Columbo Phile by Mark Dawidziak


An electric blanket keeps the body warm while
    Dale attends the opening of an art gallery exhibit. His young protegee,
    art student Tracy O'Connor, stays at the mansion and waits for the
    exact moment when the security guard is scheduled to make his check.
    After removing the heated blanket, she fires a shot and runs out the
    back way. The guard rushes in to find a body that's still warm. Dale,
    who is dropping bon mats at the gallery, has the perfect alibi.
    When the police start piecing together what happened, several
    details bother Lieutenant Columbo. How did the crooks beat the alarm
    system? He suspects that they had somebody on the inside. Secondly,
    the security officer heard the sound of high-heels running in the
    distance. A woman was involved.
    Finally, the pattern of the robbery doesn't make any sense. At first,
    in the hall entrance, the thieves nabbed paintings of lesser value. In the
    murder room, during what had to be seconds before the killing, the
    crooks suddenly got smart and selected two valuable Degas pastels.
    Dale realises that he staged the break-in badly. And he sees that
    Columbo won't be easily shaken.
    Columbo's theory is that Dale had someone murder his uncle so he
    could inherit the art collection. The detective is stunned when lawyer
    Frank Simpson reads Matthewst wilt. The art treasures have been left
    to the murdered man's sweet but slightly scattered ex-wife, Edna.
    Maybe Dale didn't know about the changes, Columbo suggests. Ah,
    the art critic knew two weeks before the killing. He has a letter from
    his uncle to prove it.
    Dale's plan is much more sinister than Columbo suspected. He shot
    his uncle and he now intends to frame Edna for the killing. Tracy
    threw the murder weapon in Edna's backyard, which is walking
    distance from her former husband's mansion. Dale will nail the case
    shut by getting the stolen paintings from Tracy and planting them in
    Edna's house.
    Once the paintings have been transferred to his car, Dale picks up a
    rock and kills Tracy. Columbo is waiting back at the critic's house. He
    dropped by to took at a few art books.
    Columbo notices that Dale is carrying a portfolio. He reaches to
    took at the paintings inside, but Dale puts him off, claiming fatigue.
    The murder weapon is found, and Dale feigns concern for his
    vulnerable aunt. Edna couldn't kill anybody, he declares. To Dale's
    disgust, Columbo agrees with him. Edna is a very fragile person, the
    lieutenant says. He doesn't want to push her too hard. He'd hate to
    make another mistake. There wilt be no accusations until the case is
    Edna tells Columbo that Randy had tired of the collection. She had
    convinced him to leave the paintings to museums and universities. Such
    lovely works should belong to the people. That's what Ted to the
    change in the with
    Dale suggests that Columbo search Edna's house. When he doesn't
    find anything, Edna can be scratched off the list of suspects. Columbo
    doesn't see any need for it, so Dale convinces Frank Simpson to go
    over the policeman's head. He claims it will protect Edna in the event
    that the district attorney decides to prosecute the person with the best
    The police search Edna's house and find the paintings. They
    immediately start dusting for fingerprints. Columbo tells Dale that he's
    still the primary suspect. Prove it, Dale demands. We can, Columbo
    says, with fingerprints.

    That won't do any good at all, Date informs him. His fingerprints
    would be all over those paintings.
    No, not yours, Columbo says, "mine." He reminds Date about that
    evening at his home, when he walked in with the portfolio. Columbo
    wanted to see the paintings inside. He grabbed for them. He touched
    If Edna had stolen the paintings, how did Columbo's fingerprints get
    on them? Date screams entrapment. Columbo must have just touched
    them now. The detective slowly removes his hands from the pockets
    of his raincoat. He's wearing gloves.
    The first of several Columbo scripts written by Jackson Gilles,
    Suitable for Framing" compares very favourably to "Murder by the
    Book', and "Death Lends a Hand." These three episodes are the
    creme de la creme of the first season.
    A crafty writer, Gittis displayed particular cunning when crafting
    clever Columbo clues. It was a gift that Falk, Levinson and Link
    greatly appreciated and admired.
    "Boy, Jackson could come up with some wonderful clues," Bill Link
    exclaimed. "Dick and I had been working on a clue using fingerprints.
    We just couldn't get it. We were hitting our heads against the watt.
    Jackson came up with the idea of the policeman's fingerprints being
    the pivotal clue. He really baited Dick and me out on Suitable for
    Framing We were ready to kiss him.
    "You see, most mystery writers get the ending first. You write
    backward. But in Columbo, you had to start with an interesting villain
    and Unaware that one friend is framing another [or murder, lawyer Frank
    Simpson (Don Ameche) tries to figure out where Columbo's investigation is
    heading ( Suitable for Framing").
    A perfect crime. We rarely worked backward from the ending. They
    were very tough. When Columbo got in trouble, it was usually a weak
    ending. Some are very good. Some are weak. Because of Jackson,
    'Suitable for Framing' is one of the best endings."
    Nobody pushed for good clues harder than Falk.
    "The Columbo format made it difficult to turn out scripts," he said.
    'There are a limited number of writers who can do this. There's a
    mind-set and a philosophy that make this type of writing tricky. And
    another big problem is that television is always so frantic. My ideal was
    to have five or six Columbo scripts on the shelf sitting there. Why
    can't television have it done in advance? Get them right before you
    start doing them.
    "You have to be careful with Columbo. There are real clues and
    there are things that just have the appearance of being clues. There
    are real clues that have a genuine ingenuity and a real delight when
    the audience finds out what they are. The best kind of clue is the type
    where the audience says, 'Why didn't I think of that?' But at the same
    time, they're saying, 'Gee, that's clever.' Most clues are fake. They
    just manipulate. Real clues are hard to come by. They're like hen's
    teeth. When you get one, the ending is a delicious surprise. It's enter-
    taining, brilliant, unpredictable yet totally convincing and satisfying
    in every way. They're rare."
    Directed by television veteran Hy Averback, "Suitable for Framing"
    (the fourth pun title in a row) also benefits from one of the strongest
    all-around casts ever assembled for a Columbo. Vic Tayback, later Mel
    in the movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and the CBS series
    version (Alice), has some nice moments as avant-garde artist Sam
    Franklin (Falk has a marvellous time in the scene where Columbo,
    thoroughly flustered and embarrassed by the presence of a nude model,
    tries to question Franklin). Wonderful character actress Mary Wickes
    has a cameo as Tracy O'Connor's gossipy landlady. Joan Shawtee, an
    Abbott and Costello graduate who played Pickles on The Dick Van
    Dyke Show, plays flamboyant art gallery owner Mitilda. Kim Hunter,
    am Academy Award winner for A Streetcar Named Desire, makes an
    endearing Edna. Don Ameche, who would go on to overcome a
    ten-year career slump and win an Oscar for Cocoon, (1985), is typi-
    cally stalwart and dignified as Frank. And Ross Martin, best known as
    Artemus Gordon on The Wild, Wild West, is still another worthy
    addition to Columbo's rogues gallery. Thirty-two years before "Suit-
    able for Framing," twelve-year-old Peter Falk got his first taste of
    acting while attending summer camp in upstate New York. His dra-
    matics counselor was Ross Martin.

Originally Aired: November 17th, 1971
Directed by: Hy Averback
Produced By:                     Richard Levinson and William Link
Associate Producer: Robert F, O'Neil
Story Editor: Steve Bochco
Music Score: Billy Goldenberg
Sunday Mystery Movie Theme: Henry Mancini
Director of Photography: Russell L. Metty, A.S.C
Art Director: Arch Bacon
Film Editor: Budd Small
Set Decorations: Richard Friedman
Assistant Director: Gil Mandelik
Sound: James H. Alexander
Unit Manager: Henery Kline
Editorial Supervisor: Richard Belding
Main Title Design: Wayne Fitzgerald

Title and special effects by Universal Title

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