Columbo: An analysis of “Make Me a Perfect Murder” part 2

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At 2:49, we begin with an outdoor, day wide shot of Kay Freestone navigating through the parking lot on her high heels.  The lot is filled.  As she approaches the front doors of the CNC network, there is an inconspicuous empty spot right in front.   It begs to have something fill that void.  And something will.

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Walking out of the elevators, Kate makes her way through glass doors.  The doors are tall but we don’t quite make out its height.  The office lobby is carefully staffed with an equal number of men and women.  There are no glass ceilings here.  Only doors and Kay easily crosses through.

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Kay’s secretary, Wendy, follows her in making small talk including asking Kay what she will have for lunch.  Kay replies, wanting a shrimp salad.  It is a cold dish and a theme which will repeat.  Kay also spends nearly no time insider her own office.  She doesn’t want to be here.  Not only she has more important things to do, this isn’t the place she wants.  There is another office she desires more.  Finally we are given glimpses, twice, of televisions resting on Kay’s shelves.  In realistic set design, it means little.  Subconsciously, they are not functioning.   They linger behind her throughout her visit in her office.  They are eyes or an audience that does not care to look.   Ghosts of the machine that will betray her when she needs them most.

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Kay marches past the desk of Mark McAndrews’ secretary, Madge, and cut from the lobby into Mark’s office.  Here we have a wide shot or nearly an extreme wide shot of Kay and the office door.  The door minimizes her the very second she steps into Mark’s office.  In one frame we see the significance of this office.  A larger television and several trophies on the shelves.

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As she steps into the office, we see Mark and two male staff in the background.  In the foreground is Mark’s desk with control panels, calculators, and other machines.  The tools of his power.  Interesting, we are not introduced to Mark behind the desk.  His real power comes without them.  He is powerful merely by making a presence.   We see more trophies shadowing Kay who pours herself a glass of ice-cold tea.  Again, Kay is associated with something cold.

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Mark McAndrews takes command sitting center in a plush couch.  He does not share it with anyone while his staff sits cramped and uncomfortable up front.  It is his staff who owes him answers and takes him where he wants to go in the studio.  They are his horses.  The couch is his chariot, “Swing Low, Swing Chariot”.    This is the moment the episode introduces the enigmatic character, Clay Gardner, who we will never see.

Kay will tell Mark, The Professional, is incomplete and will take the studio three more days to dub sound.  What is important to us, the film is unpolished, unfinished, and not ready for prime time, literally.   Mark then follows, asking Kay if he would want to preview the film to “The “New York Bunch”.  A nickname more suited for the mob, given to their east coast headquarters.  We presume their bosses and movers and makers of the network.   Without hesitation, Kay assures Mark can and should show the film to them.   Mark tells his males staff immediately, “You heard that.  Kay Freestone guarantees a 40 share.”  Was it a sign of confidence?  Or was Mark mocking her?   Look carefully at the gentleman sitting at our right.  He’s looking at him and smirking.   He knows Mark’s joking at her expense.

We conclude part two at 4:08.  Revisit part one by clicking here.

This is the second part of the series, an analysis of “Make Me a Perfect Murder” directed by James Frawley.

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