Title:"Suitable for Framing"
Directed by: Hy Averback
Written by: Jackson Gillis
Air Date: November 17, 1971
Previous: Dead Weight
Next: Lady in Waiting
Guest Starring: Ross Martin, Don Ameche, Kim Hunter, Rosanna Huffman
"Suitable for Framing" is the fourth episode of the first season of Columbo.
Art critic Dale Kingston (Ross Martin) comes home to his uncle Rudy's mansion one night and shoots Rudy dead as Rudy plays piano. Right after he does the doorbell rings—but it's his girlfriend Tracy (Rosanna Huffman), who is his partner in crime. Together they stage an elaborate cover-up, trashing Rudy's house, stealing some paintings from Rudy's art collection, and using an electric blanket to keep Rudy's corpse warm and thus deceive the cops about his time of death. With the warmth of the body to make police think Rudy was killed later than he really was, Dale goes to an art showing and makes sure he is seen. But of course Lt. Columbo is not fooled, not even when Dale tries to steer suspicion towards Edna (Kim Hunter), Rudy's ex-wife, who just inherited Rudy's obscenely valuable art collection.
Don Ameche has a supporting part as Edna's lawyer.
- And Starring: Hunter gets a "Special Guest Star" credit.
- Chekhov's Gun: Columbo trying to take the paintings out of Dale's case. This is later how he nails Dale, as Columbo's fingerprints on the stolen paintings confirm that they were in Dale's possession.
- Frame-Up: Dale's plan all along is to frame Edna for the murder of her ex-husband.
- Fresh Clue: Staged by Dale, as he puts an electric blanket over Rudy's body, to keep the corpse warm and fool the cops into thinking that Rudy was killed later than he really was.
- He Knows Too Much: Obviously the reason why Dale kills Tracy, her usefulness being at an end.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: After bashing Tracy over the head with a rock, Dale attempts to make her death look like a car accident in which she drove off a mountain road.
- Public Exposure: Columbo is uncomfortable when he goes to interview the art dealer and encounters a nude model posing for a painting.
- Scenery Censor: The nude model posing for the artist has her naughty bits carefully hidden by the placement of the artist's canvas. (The identity of the actress remains unknown.)
- Silence Is Golden: The first five minutes, in which Dale kills his uncle and starts staging the scene, take place without any dialogue. (This is the only episode of Columbo in which the murder victim doesn't have any lines.)
- Villainous Breakdown: The formerly unflappable Dale starts freaking out when Columbo drops the bomb about the fingerprints, screaming that it's all a setup and that Columbo planted the prints himself. Columbo then delivers the "gotcha" moment when he holds up his hands and shows that he's wearing gloves.
- Wham Line: A panicking Dale sneers when Columbo says they're looking for fingerprints on the painting, saying that he'd handled that painting many times in Rudy's home. Columbo then says "Oh, we're not looking for your fingerprints." They're looking for Columbo's fingerprints, and when they find them, they prove that the paintings were in Rudy's possession after the murder.