Columbo: An analysis of “Make Me a Perfect Murder” part 5


By 11:40 we learn the uses Kate’s broken antenna has in mind.  She steps out of the elevator blowing past one of Mark’s horsemen, “Ames”.  Ames was the gentleman who snickered at Mark’s joke about Kay promising a 40-share for “The Professional”.  Since Ames clearly sees past Kay, she reciprocates seeing past him.


Entering the office lobby the camera composition has clearly changed since the first.  And as a third secretary is about to be revealed in the foreground, we clearly see the balance between men and women has changed.  The world is beginning to tilt crooked.  Looking closely we’ll see Wendy trying and failing to get Kay’s attention.  She has little to do with anyone or anything in the network.


Kay walks straight into Jonathan’s, the statistics runner, office.  With a click closed-door impromptu, she demands he stays late into the night.  Of course, Jonathan protests.  See Kay massage Jonathan’s ratings book.  The book is never far from him.  He is a part of it.   Here is a man who not only has an office but has his own secretary outside the door.  And Kay calls him “Junior”?  She offers him “condolences” a word more fitting for the dead.  Ironically appropriate since death is on her mind.


With a buffet spread across the foreground, we see and hear Frank Flanagan with his New York Bunch having reached the Los Angeles office.  No expense is spared welcoming him with a stocked bar in the background.  Kay walks in and politely interrupts a discussion among men including Mark who quietly avoids her at the bar.  Although they are not to be found at the buffet, Kay mentions finishing their “ice cream and cookies”.   We revisit cold food and drinks.   Kay has progressed from asking and consuming cold or ice, she sees them where none are found.

Frank Flanagan makes a torn and half-hearted decision to hire Clay Gardner.  His commitment is ambiguous, “Let’s roll the dice before I change my mind.” says he.  He’s not making a logical decision worthy of Einstein.  There are no numbers, other than dollars, he’s making a decision on.  He’s guessing.


When Mark splits from The New York Bunch, returning to his office, he has first encounter alone with Kay since Sunday morning.  It is at an open doorway.  This is a theme that will resurface throughout the episode.  The “big plan” or life goals are impeded at doorways.  It will be a symbol of obstruction or concession.  Here Kay assures Mark, deceivingly, that everything is fine.  We learn understand her plot to impede Mark’s career has hatched and she to exit through the staircase (another theme) to continue.



Kay Freestone stands alone in the network theater in front of The New York Bunch.  Interesting that Frank looks the most uncomfortable in the most comfortable seat.  At Frank’s inquiry, Kay takes more than modest credit for The Professional mentioning flecks of her blood on each and every frame.  It is more than a poetic description of her hard work.  The fictional universe of The Professional and Kay’s world will soon collide.


In the projectionist room, we meet Walter.  Jokingly, Kay threatens to kill him if he goofs up the screening.  Here violent metaphors doesn’t end as she comments how she “wrested this bloody film.”  Walter gives the obligatory monologue explaining how cue blips work (a technique long obsoleted).  As Kay listens and smiles we learn very little about Walter other than he knows how to switch reels every 10 minutes.  Over Kay’s right shoulder we get a glimpse of Walter’s model ship.

Meanwhile, as the film begins to roll, Frank needed to be reminded the title of the film.  Curious, Frank really doesn’t care about the the project.  He’d rather talk about Clay Gardner.

Mark McAndrews returns to his office.   As an audience we’re disoriented as it clearly implies it is night.  It was never clearly understood time had advanced since Kay’s arrival from the elevator in the morning.  Regardless, Mark is cold and suffering a foreboding chill.  He taps on the thermostat, almost surprised in the sudden drop of temperature.  Bad karma smothers him lying in his chariot.  Mark grabs and reads a red notebook.  It was the color furthest from Kay’s coat.   What is left between he and Kay are the tools of his murder.

Trivia: When Kay leaves Jonathan’s office, her hair is down.  In the next cut introducing herself to The New York Bunch, her hair is up.  This is the only indication time has passed.

We conclude part five at 15:45.  Revisit part one by clicking here.

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

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