Columbo: 5 things you may have missed watching “Suitable for Framing”

“Suitable for Framing”,
has clever little nuances for a season one episode.  Cursed paintings, money, and price of art are some of the episode’s themes worth looking out for.  Here are 5 things you may have missed watching “Suitable for Framing”.

Number 1: Beauty and the Beast

Edna Matthews was Rudy’s Beauty and he, the Beast.  It’s important to remember that it was Edna, with painstaking effort, convinced Rudy to give up his art to the people. This subtle plot device, having the woman in his life lift the curse, hints the art had made Rudy less than human.  Put another way, into a monster or beast.  It was a curse that was shadowing his nephew, Dale.  As Edna put it, Rudy didn’t want Dale to have it.  He wasn’t trying to spite Dale but to save him.

“Rudy was finally tired of it, that’s all all the greedy buying and bidding and hoarding.  … I was just so happy that Rudy was finally turning human.” – Edna Matthews.

Number 2: What is money?

“I just paint the pictures, ma’am, I don’t set prices.”

One particular question is what exactly did Dale inherit?  The episode make an effort that there was nothing to inherit.  Rudy’s attorney stated he had disposed of all of his business assets and was renting the house.  What, was he on welfare? Was he selling his artwork to keep his high standards of living?  It’s easy to think he murdered his uncle from being cut from the will entirely.  All money, that would have gone to him, was immaterial to Dale.  Dale wanted the art.   In another scene, aspiring artist, Sam Franklin, distances himself from the topic of money.  The episode paints a trend that artists and their critics are devoted to the craft and care little of cold, hard cash.

” … unlike my uncle, I am not independently wealthy.” – Dale Kingston.

Number 3: New Year’s Day Gift

Some who cared about money include the Evans.  As part of their loyal service in the past 10 years, Rudy Matthews provided a life-long pension to Mr. and Mrs. Evans of a sum of $2,000 a year.  Paid on the first day, of every year, for the rest of their lives.  How far does $2,000 go anyways in 1971?  In 2019 dollars, it would be over $12,500.  A pretty nice benefit.  Rudy’s thought about money proved he was no longer a patron of the arts.

“Such a nice man.” – Mr. Evans.


Number 4: Bad art

Tracy’s artistic skills are questionable.  Her choice in men, more so.  In case you missed it, Dale Kingston doesn’t hold back critiquing his co-conspirator’s work.  Tracy’s art is so bad it not only kills one of Columbo’s leads but may have resulted in the truth behind her murder going unresolved.

“Sometimes I think my talent isn’t what you like best about me.” – Tracy O’Connor.


Number 5: Rudy’s Requiem

Rudy plays Chopin to say goodbye.  No longer under the curse of his art collection, he knows he will be eventually murdered by his nephew.  Waiting for Dale, his nephew gives him an awkward nod acknowledging the end has come.  While Rudy was no longer cursed, Dale is and embraced it.   Rudy simply smiles and continues playing happily until his end.  He rather be dead that live the life awaiting Dale.

“… he’s far more amiable now than he ever was when he was alive.” – Dale Kingston.

Bonus: Tracy’s phone call

We know Columbo visited Tracy’s home after her murder since he brought one of her paintings to Dale Kingston.  Questioning Dale if he had known Tracy, Dale denies.  While Columbo is inconsistent using phone records in his investigation, we can presume he had figured out she had made a habit calling him.


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