Columbo: An analysis of “Make Me a Perfect Murder” part 7

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The elevators open at 23:10 presuming the next morning.  It’s never explained what had happened since discovering Mark’s body but it is of no importance.   As Kay enters the network office, we have a tighter wide shot entering through the glass doors.  She’s more focused now.  The hallway and offices are flooded with male officers and detectives overshadowing the pool of secretaries.  Hours before the murder it was Kay who would not listen to Wendy, her secretary.  Now the tables have turned.  While Kay tries to act herself into normality, Wendy will not play along.  She sends Kay into Mark’s office.

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As Kay’s entrance into the front lobby is tighter, so is her entry into Mark’s office.  No longer necessary to establish a wide shot to diminute Kay, we get a medium close up and a very subtle reaction shot of a mysterious man in a raincoat.

Lt. Columbo introduces himself while taking Mark’s place lying in his chariot.  Mark’s glasses rests on top of his head while reading the blue notebook with a bullet hole.   Columbo presents himself as weakened, wearing his neck brace and misunderstanding Kay’s question.  Kay has no reason to elevate Columbo as her equal or adversary.

 

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Columbo telegraphs his knowledge up front.  He knows from what position Mark was shot and takes note he was without his glasses.   He sits where the victim sat and looks through his eyes.  Columbo surmises Mark was killed by someone he was familiar with.  If we remember Wendy calling Kay in because “they” asked for her – we now figured out it was Columbo asking for her.  Kay was Columbo’s first and perhaps only suspect.

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Acting coy, Columbo asks Kay to exit the room, return and simulate the crime, going so far having Kay pretending to hold the pistol.  Kay is too smart, however.  She holds her index finger out like a barrel instead of using it as a trigger finger.  If we compare the two frames, we see two different angles.   It is a different day and a different Kay.  We also notice a couple other things.  The “night” Kay, responsible for the murder is standing in a faux symmetrical frame.  Kay is framed with balance and justice.  We look at “day” Kay.  It is not symmetrical, the large, intimidating door stands to our right.  An incomplete portrait to our left.  We see one and only one trophy.  This is another attempt to minimize her.   She is unworthy to be shadowed by more than one symbol of great accomplishment.

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Kay does get her due.  She possesses one trophy an award for best documentary production.  Columbo isn’t blindly curious.  This is evidence he’s dealing with a clever foe.  It may also hold another clue.  Kay is skilled in documentaries.   But how is she putting together fictional films or live productions?  Flanagan, for the time being, puts Kay in Mark’s place.  Though we know better, we can’t help but to question Flanagan’s decision.

In Kay’s office is the first parry between the two.  Kay wants to blame zealots.  The same type who writes threatening letters to the network.  Columbo counters with his correct theory that the murder was committed by someone Mark McAnderews knew.

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As Columbo walks away he unassumingly touts his clairvoyant powers.  He tells Kay,  “Like you got a tiny voice whispering in your ear…”  Not only funny and ironic but ominous.  It is a passing warning to Kay.  Don’t underestimate Columbo.  Don’t you dare.  Kay is forced to think again what kind of adversary she is dealt with.

We conclude part 7 at 34:53.  Revisit part one by clicking here.

This is the 7th part of the series, an analysis of “Make Me a Perfect Murder” directed by James Frawley.

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