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Columbo full episode: Etude in Black

Columbo Etude in Black John Cassavetes
“That’s my specialty you know… homicide.”

BFFs John Cassavetes and Peter Falk teamed up to devastating effect in fan favourite episode Etude in Black in 1972.

And the wonderful news is that Etude is the latest episode to be made available in full to keen viewers via the official Columbo YouTube channel. So grab your conductor’s baton and get ready for fun with Falk, Cassavetes and support cast of stars that includes James McEachin, Blythe Danner and Myrna Loy – PLUS DOG’S DEBUT!

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Columbo Etude in Black review
“I’m gonna take a nap now.”
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23 thoughts on “Columbo full episode: Etude in Black

    • If memory serves the concert begins (bizarrely) right in the middle of Beethoven’s seventh and there is later on a Mozart symphony – #40 or 41. Also the piece that the mistress dies while playing is Chopin’s etude in Ab major — lots of black keys there too! Funny that they didn’t use his etude in Gb major which is also nicknamed the ‘black key’ etude.

    • It takes about 30 seconds before the part really starts. Its not the volume. It is definitely Beethoven’s Symphony #6 part #4

  1. Does anyone know the music that Alex was conducting to on the night of the murder? Would love to listen to it on spotify.

  2. One thing that really bothered me throughout this episode is the unrealistic way that John Cassavettes portrayed a musical conductor.

    As a music major, I was constantly aware of his lack of sense of tempo. He never moved his hands with the correct timing of the music and, his overly dramatic “directing”, made him look like a swordsman, aggressively attacking his musicians.

    Of all the Columbo villians, he had the most disagreeable disposition I can remember. And, he probably disregarded the women in his life more than any other Columbo villain.

    But, I’m not surprised because I’ve have heard, more than once, that he was sort of an egomaniac as an actor and, difficult to deal with, in real life.

    • Me too, but I’ve always assumed it was because the music was laid in after the scene was shot. Meaning, he was “conducting” without music.

      I also agree about the swordsman thing – lots of slashing and stabbing the air! My guess here is, Cassavettes was really trying to put forth “the tortured artist” thing.

      I remember seeing John Cassavettes in an appearance on a talk show. OMG – so, so cringe-y. …and I really like Cassavettes’ work, but geeeeez – not a guy I’d ever want to hang out with – even if he were buying the beer!

  3. A solid and classic Columbo, probably would rate somewhere in the 20’s of all the episodes for me, and for this fantastic series that’s darn good. This episode has the typical beautiful mansion and gorgeous cars that are common for this series and are one of the many things that make it so appealing.

  4. One thing I like about Etude is the inexplicable appearance of long-time character actor Henry Beckman at the murder scene. He’s a kind of burned-out old guy that the Lt’s using for exposition about the victim– and it’s like, ok, is he the coroner or a neighbor, or a figment of Columbo’s imagination, or what? He doesn’t have a name or title, he’s just there. He’s not even in the credits. Why doesn’t the Lt set up the scene with the cigar-chomping Sargent, instead? Who is this guy?! My guess, a friend of Mr Falk’s that was hanging around the set. Nothing wrong with that. I’m a big fan of Beckman.

  5. I think Etude in Black is of the true classic columbo style and while it is a very memorable episode and rates very highly among fans and other Blogs generally , ( some people put it in there top 10 ) I actually am not a big fan of it , I find it a tad tedious and I think that the final clue is IE the carnation re appearing/ missing makes for a top 10 ( as columbophile has already pointed out if you visit previous post ( murderers who would never done time post ) Etude in black is slightly overrated in my opinion , However its defineltley much more in the top half of the 70s than the bottom the top and always worth watching.

  6. One of my all-time favorite examples of Columbo disregarding things like chain of custody and protecting evidence. Not only is he toting the keyboard around, he actually strikes a couple of keys. Good times.

    • Haha yes, there’s probably an article for ‘biggest violations committed by Columbo’ e.g. using the murder weapon to crack open an egg (Stitch in Crime) or unwinding a keyboard ribbon with a destroyed letter on it (Now you See Him),

  7. Cassavetes was a good foil for Columbo. The friends worked so well together. Etude in Black remains a top episode of the series.


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