Columbo: An analysis of “Make Me a Perfect Murder” part 6


At 15:46, we see first, explicit evidence it is night.  Jonathan is busy working numbers for Flanagan.  His book of ratings unmoved since morning.   Left overs from the commissary rests on his desk.   Meanwhile, we watch Kay watch The Professional.  The film continues to be displayed in a smaller frame.  We’ll never get the opportunity to be a part of it.  Frank Flanagan, is slowly enthralled by the film.  Luring his interest, he lifts from his seat.


Back in Mark’s office, he picks up his blue notebook.  This is a cue.  Kay is coming.   Kay begins her plot watching Walter play with his model ship.  Playful, easy to fool?  Is this the intended message?  Kay does fool him into leaving her alone retrieving reels from “The Broad Land”.  Pulling earphones and a tape recorder from her purse she initiates her move.   Having dubbed The Professional, she listens to the soundtrack.  She knows what comes next and waits for the cue.   The film mimics Kay as its lead kicks a trash cat out of frustration.  This is her signal to start her countdown.


As Kay begins her journey so does The Professional continue.  Flanagan’s interest is piqued.  The film draws parallel to Kay’s real time experiences.  In The Professional, windows are closing on our gun-toting lead.   Likewise, the opportunities for Kay to turn back are shutting also.


Kay makes her long, careful, if not slightly paranoid travels to Mark.  The hallways are long and she needs to look over her shoulder.  Needing to pick up the pace she rushes up the stairs.  She always needed to climb to advance her career at the network.  She needs to put in the same effort here.   Nearing Mark’s office, she leverages her mastery of sound.  Kay relies on Jonathan’s adding machine to assure her he’s at his desk.  Her plan making him closest to the scene of the crime is playing out.  Unfortunately, she doesn’t hear Jonathan’s phone ringing.  This would be Jonathan’s alibis.

Paralleling Sunday morning, Mark is in his death pose.  Just as he was in his lounge chair without glasses, he confronts Kay one final time.  With no remorse, Kay pulls out her handgun.  Mark is shocked it has come to this.  More irony, Kay takes his advice and shoots him through the heart.

I looked over Jordan, and what did I see
Coming for to carry me home?
A band of angels coming after me,
Coming for to carry me home.



Waiting for Jonathan to leave his desk, Kay makes her way to the projectionist room.  It is important for Jonathan to find the body quickly not leaving too much time to threaten Kay’s alibis.  As time ticks away, a security guard eats up precious seconds leering at a magazine’s centerfold.  Print, the medium much older than radio, makes itself an enemy.  The camera composition is curiously symmetrical.   The closer to the projectionist room Kay is, the more balanced the world becomes.


Kay makes it to the room on time for the switch over seconds before Walter returns with his reels.  However, she makes her first careless mistake tossing her rubber glove away to the floor.  She tells Walter the change over went well and no one was the wiser. Perhaps, we were deceived earlier with foreshadowing of ill timing that never happened?  Perhaps not!

As we see the self-inflicted demise of The Professional, Walter exclaims his disapproval.  A single disapproving critic, he will later provide important testimony to break the case.  The word of Mark’s death has reached The New York Bunch as Frank Flanagan stands, leaning into the projectionist room calling Kate in.  The drama now has figuratively drawn him into film as its images are cast over his face.  As Kay makes her way into the theater, we see Walter’s point-of-view.  There is panic and confusion.  The Professional is still screening.  Its images are ambiguous with a series of still frames.  It represents either the end of film or like a stream of consciousness unable to decide what should come next.

We conclude part 6 at 23:09.  Revisit part one by clicking here.

This is the 6th part of the series, an analysis of “Make Me a Perfect Murder” directed by James Frawley.

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