So, as some of you know, given my "Mark MacAndrews" handle, I have a strong fondness for "Make Me A Perfect Murder"....but there is a dialogue between Columbo and Kay Freestone I find really frustrating. It's when she tries to tell Columbo that there have been threats to the network and one of the "crackpots" might have come in and killed Mark. Their exchange goes like this:
Columbo: I don't think so, ma'am.
Not in this case. Granted, there's a lot of nuts running around, some of them dangerous.
Not in this case.
Kay Freestone: You seem very sure, Lieutenant.
Columbo: That's because Mr.McAndrews recognized his murderer.
He knew the person who shot him.
Kay Freestone: I find that very hard to believe.
Columbo: I don't wanna distress you, ma'am, but there's no doubt about it.
I know I had that paper somewhere.
Kay Freestone: Why is there no doubt about it?
Columbo: We know the angle of the bullet, ma'am.
We know that the murderer didn't shoot from the door.
He entered the office.
I'd say he was 18 feet in by the time he pulled the trigger.
Kay Freestone: Well, why couldn't a stranger be 18 feet into a room?
Columbo: Well, let me put it to you this way, ma'am.
If you were alone in a room at night, lying on a couch, and a stranger entered, wouldn't you take a good look at him? Wouldn't you wanna see what he looked like?
Kay Freestone: Yes.
Columbo: That's the point, ma'am. Mr. McAndrews didn't bother to take a really good look. It's these glasses, ma'am. He had them up here on his forehead when he was shot. When the murderer came into the room. So Mr. McAndrews must've known exactly who that person was, or he would've pushed them down, like this.
Because with these type corrections, ma'am, these bifocals, this is the only way that Mr.McAndrews could see his killer.
If the killer was a stranger, that is. Which he couldn't have been.
So I ask the fans of this forum to explain to me, how come Columbo can say what he says so definitively? I've never heard an answer on this. Couldn't Mark, who was lying on a couch, rested his glasses up on his head and shut his eyes briefly? Couldn't a killer quietly make their way into a room and see that he has his eyes shut and come closer and fire? I just really frustrates me that Columbo leaves not even the slightest possibility that he may not have known his killer just because his glasses were resting on his head.
I agree, however I think that there is an even greater example in a similar way. In Forgotton Lady when Columbo said that the time lapse when Grace watched the movie and had to splice the film could only be explained by her going to murder her husband when in reality she could have gone to the bathroom or have dozed off.
So although I agree with you, I often see examples where there are multiple explanations that would be used to convince a jury otherwise.
Yes, your handle is remembered. It seems you mean you never heard an answer that you were satisfied with. Because I answered on April 19, 2018 when you posted on the same point three days prior.
Let me have another whack at it. Columbo’s got nothing to lose. He can say it as definitively as he wants. As with other episodes, he gets a whiff when there’s red herring, in this case it’s the hate mail. It’s a pattern he’s seen repeatedly – killer offers up a diversion, a distraction/ tries to send him along a path. Notice how Kay really starts talking at this point too. The truth is that the victim did know his killer. Whether or not Columbo knows this definitively is secondary to his tactic of delivering it in definitive fashion. Let’s say it’s a strong theory. Then, during the exchange, we have another classic Columbo tactic. Right after he says there’s no doubt about it, he fumbles for the paper and the conversation is left hanging just for a moment. She then leaps into it with curiosity “Why is there no doubt about it?” Pivotal. Slightly stronger scent.
Meanwhile he’s already cast himself as having something of a shuffled mind – when reference is made (twice) to the murder investigation and he interprets the statements to be about the neck brace, along with similar schtick. Killers think he’ll be easily swayed so they feed him a line or two. But there’s no bumbling when he advances the dialogue you cite. It’s similar to the first scene between Columbo and Abigail Mitchell when she says it was an accident, and he proceeds to flip that on its head. Same with Kay’s death threats. By the time the exchange has concluded, the death threat angle has not only been forgotten but the absent-minded detective charade has also checked out. Sure, Freestone can take up a counter line like the ones you mention, but (in addition to being off guard now) in doing so she will be just be digging herself deeper – that is, putting energy into finding holes in Columbo’s leads (which are positive developments to find a murderer) will only raise suspicions (and we’ve scene that play out much longer than it does here). The frustration with Columbo lives within the murderer’s predicament. Evidence can take a back seat to tactic when the latter yields the former. Is there a more artful and clever way to go for the jugular, to gradually constrict the prey? Not when there’s a murder and Columbo’s on the case.
Yup, good points. Yet, the bit just before this encounter about how everyone in the building is accounted for/ no one could get in our out, leaving the question Columbo asks aloud "Who killed Mr. MacAndrews?" narrows the field considerably. This, coupled with Columbo listening in when Flanagan asks Kay to take over all of MacAndrews' duties suggests possible motive. Even the seemingly non-coincidental scene where Columbo's on the couch and Kay comes in may have a basis in Columbo's playbook. I believe he's running a flea flicker in the scene you highlight and he moved the chains upfield. These dialogues are tough for the murderer. In this case, it's interesting that she remarks "I find that hard to believe." in response to his position that the victim knew his killer. Then, "Well, why couldn't a stranger be 18 feet into a room?" (Or even the cold-blood line which was not played "Is it possible Mark was resting his eyes for a minute or two, since his glasses were over his head and he was lying on a couch?") But, either way, Columbo gives an accurate answer that she accepts. Moreover, though, why is she in the business of putting forth alternatives to his position? Is to help catch the murderer or to deflect facts that may increase suspicion that she is the murderer?
Well, the differing interpretations are entertaining, along with the episode.
I have to say you've given me some interesting things to process, Jake. I like your take on this. It's true what you say that Kay's questioning why a stranger couldn't be 18 feet in the room might be slightly peculiar to Columbo. And when people start to give him possible directions to go, his own experience might lead him to believe that the person doing so is trying to hide something. So I'm going to shift to "Death Hits the Jackpot"...have you seen my past posts on that? If you responded with your take, let me know and I'll find it. Would like your opinion on an episode I feel has the biggest plot hole ever.
Okay, you got me going; I dug up your piece and added my reply below it.
Feb 22, 2018 - 8:52PM
"I'm going to guess this has been analyzed already, but can somebody explain the inexplicable? Why does Freddy Brower's wife, Nancy, agree to conspire with Leon Lamarr to murder Freddy? She was legally married to Freddy when he hit the $30M jackpot. She, free and clear, would get $15M to herself. But instead, she lets Leon take the whole $30M jackpot, with what? The hopes they share it so she could get $15M? They weren't in love. This was an old man/younger woman fling. Also, since Leon was considered the winner, there's this little thing about Leon's wife. If Leon divorced her to be with Nancy, well, wouldn't she get half of the money? Seriously of all Columbo episodes, this is a plot hole as gaping as the Grand Canyon. Somebody make me understand this better."
I’m not going to flip this one over... because I don’t see this defect. I see the greater resonating theme in this episode -- based on what goes down in real life -- that a sudden load of money will trigger a series of machinations that will not end well. And along the way people will behave greedily, irrationally, and frankly, when they’re not too bright to begin with, the stupidity will be compounded.
The dialogue on money begins immediately, even before the jackpot, when Freddy and Nancy are arguing about money, albeit the lack thereof. We see it again with the couple in the jewelry store where an expensive piece is tossed on a scale with the grandchildren’s education on the other side. Then, the Columbo expensive nightgown scene with Mrs. Brower. But getting back to the stupidity, Freddie’s call upon Uncle Leon is the first move in a chain reaction of selfishness and greed.
Of course, by the time Leon addresses the situation with Nancy he’s already been designated the winner through the agreement with Freddy, who wanted to keep Nancy – his big problem – out of it. As Leon puts the proper spin on this in his delivery to Nancy, she becomes infuriated and vengeful of Freddy’s deceitful intentions. At the same time, she lust-fullfillingly has (or it’s been going on a while) this fling thing with Leon (which is utterly repulsive, at best, and therefore helps drives the momentum of the theme) and agrees to protect him by being the lynch pin in his alibi (for whatever millions were floated by Leon). It’s a sordid ascension of self-serving events that are borne from and will never leave the gutter. Any thoughts of “oh, hey I’m still married to this guy and can collect the $” are not only overtaken by a ready and willingness to assist in his demise and share the dough with Leon in a passionate haze (that hangs about them like a bad stench), but such thoughts are hollow anyway even if they are resorted to, i.e. you "use" your relationship with your soon-to-be ex spouse to collect money. It’s just ugly all around.
And Freddy is already a marked man, with Leon being puffed up and all from a TV appearance, a giant check, and a party for millionaires. There’s no going back for Leon. The cut off the top he is supposed to receive from Freddy is way more than what he can now imagine ever giving to Freddy -- er, check that, he’s just going to do away with Freddy. Maybe Leon’s wife’s inheritance has entered the equation, but he’s got to take care of his big problem, Freddie. The bathtub dunking scene of his nephew, more gruesome and ruthless than most, fits right in.
That Leon gets done in by a cheap piece of jewelry and a chimpanzee is a deserved and satisfying bullseye. Indeed, it was the monkey who behaved most like a human being at Freddy’s place. The denouement was reminiscent of A Case of Immunity where Columbo sets the stage for any ships that need to sink themselves, but in this case these moralless creatures are but a couple of rabid sewer rats fighting until the death… which has already rotted their souls anyway.
Greed begets greed.
And check the end with Columbo strolling out of the auction house discussing his 25th anniversary and saying his wife doesn’t need jewelry.
Your response has me thinking that potentially Nancy finding out from Leon exactly when Freddy concocted his plan with Leon might have played into her actions. Maybe after Leon was crowned the winner she thought the only chance she had at getting the money was to partake in this plan to kill Freddy. Maybe it was a risk she wasn't willing to take. But still, she did hold off on signing the final decree, so something is amiss. But yeah, the levels of greed in this episode are staggering. Freddy, unfortunately, couldn't just take his half and start a new life....he wanted her to have none of it. Leon, actually could've asked Freddy for more than 3M if you think about it. Anything less than 50% and Freddy makes out on the deal. I find it hard to think Freddy says no if Leon asks for $10M...Freddy would still keep $23M. The denouement is pretty original with the monkey prints. Reminded me a little of Dale Kingston in "Suitable for Framing" saying, "They're covered with my prints..." and Columbo tells him, "We're not looking for your prints..."
Great points. You've inspired me to think in depth and get more out of these episodes -- see more connections in and between them and have a closer look at plot dynamics. There's a lot left to our interpretation, but sometimes it doesn't add up... like Grand Deceptions. Maybe I'll give that whirl again.
Well I have to pay you the same compliment, Jake. Your views on episodes has really gotten me to look at each one a bit differently. I'll probably ask your opinion in the future lol.