Columbo: An analysis of “Make Me a Perfect Murder” part 3

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At 4:09 Frank Flanagan from “The New York Bunch”, calls Mark with an offer to head the entire network from the east coast.  The snowy background behind Frank’s window does more than contrast the conditions between L.A. and N.Y., after all it isn’t always winter there.  It is another symbol of the cold.  We first hear about a shrimp salad.  That is followed by quick glimpses of iced tea. Now we clearly see falling snow and ice where only the glass keeps us safe.  The snow is quietly piling up on the windowsill, waiting patiently.  Glass, it is something Kay Freestone can easily transverse.

This is our first introduction to the member of The New York Bunch.  The camera composition is straight forward, no dramatic angles.  In the foreground are common, household instruments.  A phone and a clipboard.  The phone is disguised in a fancy, wooden box while the clip board seems to be made from gold.  The drapes in the background are framed as if they were flags making Flanagan looking very presidential.  Finally, there is a bust of Albert Eisenstein always looking over his shoulder.  Did Frank consider himself as in intellectual making pure, logical decisions?

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After Mark accepts the offer, we cut to a extreme wide shot of a beach house.  We soon learn this is Mark’s beach house who walks to the balcony singing to himself “The Lady is a Tramp” and losing himself in only a few words.  He is also carrying two cold, glasses of a drink he quickly places on a table.  Mark mimics Lt. Columbo by singing a short song where only he hears.  The words he remembers, he chooses to sing, are short:

Hates California is cold and is damp

 

The words are predictions of the future that we’ll see played out before any of Lt. Columbo’s.   Is Mark’s California cold and damp?  Is the cold world slowly closing in on him?  We also should notice how Mark rushes to drop the glasses from his hands.  His persona, doesn’t want to associate with anything cold for too long.  This will be quickly proven.

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With two drinks and a “Hey, it’s breakfast!”, we learn Mark is not alone.   For the first short moments we are unable to identify Mark’s lady guest.   True,  it adds fuels mystery lasting a short few seconds.   If we take a look from behind’s Mark’s shoulder we are voyeurs from his point of view.   The woman enters his life without an identity.  This is how Mark truly thinks of her.  The camera chops off her head.   That is until it is revealed it is Kay Freestone, who walks towards Mark and the camera demanding recognition.

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In a few, short cuts we understand there is something more between Mark and Kay, it’s Sunday and they have spent the weekend together.  After Kay steps away, Mark stares at her with his eye glasses.  Near-sighted, he puts on his glasses as if he’s seeing Kay for the first time.  With thoughts running through his head, he is selecting to see her under a new light.  He doesn’t know her anymore.

Kay tosses the newspaper into Mark’s lap asking him to read the comics.  Kay doesn’t do print.  It is a continuing theme of broadcasting.   Mark, who isn’t a believer of print either, doesn’t oblige and tosses them aside.  It is also the first salvo of the disconnection between them.   Mark breaks the news to Kay that Frank has offered him the entire network.   But wait, there’s more!  Mark, uses the power of his position to leave Kay behind in L.A. and withholds her from a promotion.  Distraught, Kay confronts him.  Mark begins to look at Kay out from behind his glasses.  He begins to look at Kay as he remembers her.  A cold woman who makes a career out of guessing and he wants out of their secret relationship.    Let’s not forget one bit of trivia.  If we presume Mark learned of his promotion before the weekend started, he waited until Sunday morning to break up with Kay.  After he had his fun!

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Mark follows Kay around his house holding a pair of cold drinks an awkward amount of time as he tries to console her.   Having his reasons, Mark has been trying to put Kay and the cold drink together.  But they have other meanings.  Mark would prefer not to hold the cold glasses but is tempting karma.   He is becoming too associated with the ice and begins making reckless suggestions, including offering Kay to shoot him, “right through the heart.   Make me a perfect murder, babe!”  His eye glasses are not seen and not needed.  Mark suddenly possesses perfect vision of the future.

We conclude part three at 8:24.  Revisit part one by clicking here.

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

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