PT - Columbo - 007 - Blueprint for Murder
Updated: Jan 26
Season 1 of the Predictably Treacherous Podcast continues with the final episode of season one of Columbo "Blueprint for Murder"
Elliott Markham is building his great masterpiece with backing from absent globe trotter Beau Williamson. When Williamson returns from Europe and discovers the plans, he shuts down the project and calls Elliott a con-man. In order to continue his project, Elliott kills Beau and hides the body but ex-wife Goldie knows something is not right. Columbo has locked onto Elliott but without a body will not be able to make an arrest.
Welcome everyone to The Predictably Treacherous podcast. Today's epsiode is "Blueprint for Murder" staring Patrick O'Neal. This is episode seven of season one. This episode was directed by Peter Falk. The teleplay was by Steven Bochco and the story was by William Kelley. The original air date was February 9th, 1972 and the runtime was 73 minutes.
Let's get right to the episode summary
Elliott Markham is an architect. He is building his greatest project, Williamson City, using the money of globe trotting oil man Beau Williamson. When Beau returns from Europe, he puts the brakes on the project and calls Markham a con-man. So that he can continue his project, Markham kills beau and hides the body, making it seem that Beau has returned to Europe.
Beau's ex-wife Goldie calls foul when Beau fails to tell her he left town. Columbo must catch Markham before the body is forever buried in the foundation of the building.
We open the episode with a cadillac doing a screaching u-turn up to the front of the building of the offices of Elliott Markham and Associates. A man gets out of the car and makes his way to the office. To emphasize his determination and focus only his feet are shown. He's wearing cowboy boots. The man is Beau Williamson and he demands to speak with Markham. The secretary says he's not in but Beau doesn't believe her so he barges into Markham's office. The secretary's drinking the kool-aid. She buys into Markham as a genius. Inside is a large table model of "Williamson City", a planned community that Markham wants to develop. Williamson smashes the model and again asks the secretary where markham is. He's at the construction site.
Now Williamson's cadilllac is pulling into the construction site. He locates Markham talking with a foreman and confronts him.
Elliott Markham, Patrick O'Neal, looks a lot like Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. And he mumbles like Bob Dylan.
Apparently, Williamson had been away in Europe for the past 8 weeks and Markham took the opportunity to convince Williamson's wife to agree to allow him to build Williamson City. Markham claims that this project would immortalize the Williamson name and they thought Williamson would love the idea so they didn't wait for him to return for his consent. Williamson says he's more interested in his wallet than his name. He also says that Markham is a con-man and his wife's too young to recognize it. He tells Markham to stay away from him and his wife. Markham calls him a philistine.
Markham makes a vague threat...some joke about building his burial vault. Williamson conveniently explains to Markham that if he has any thoughts of killing him he should forget it. If he dies, his wife will get an allowance and the rest of his money will go into trust so there would be no money for the project. A convenient piece of information.
In the next scene, Markham arrives back at his office. He tells his secretary to contact Mrs Williamson at the health spa. The secretary is unable to get in touch with her because spa guests are not able to receive communications from anyone during their visit, which conveniently means that Beau has not contacted his wife yet. Then we get a slow "zoom in" shot of Markham as he starts to make the face that the Grinch makes when Boris Karloff reads the line, "Then he got an idea. An awful idea. The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea." (How the Grinch Stole Christmas (7:22))
Now Williamson is at a ranch watching his race horse sprint. He seems delighted with the horses performance. The jockey takes the horse away to its stall and Williamson returns to his Cadillac. He gets in and starts the car and turns on the country and western music. Just then Markham pops his head up in the back. He has a gun.
Markham leads Williamson out of the car and into a barn.
Now we're back inside the Cadillac. The POV is as if we were driving and there is classical music playing. The car enters Williamson Ranch and we see that Markham is driving. He has Williamson's keys and gets out to go into the house. Smartly, he rings the doorbell first. When no one answers, he enters the house, packs a suitcase and gets back into the car and drives off.
The Columbo Intro
Now at the construction site, Markham is glad handing to the press at a dedication ceremony for Williamson city. Columbo is nosing around and Markham finally asks him if he needs something. Columbo says that the police received a call from Mrs Williamson that Beau Williamson was missing. There is a bit of confusion at first because the Mrs Williamson at the dedication ceremony is the current Mrs Williamson but the Mrs. Williamson who made the complaint is the ex-Mrs. Williamson, Goldie. They clear that up. Markham explains that Beau is a globetrotter and often leaves the country for several weeks at a time at a moments notice. Neither Markham or the current Mrs Williamson seem concerned.
Now Columbo is in the bedroom of the ex Mrs Williamson "Goldie" while she is getting a massage. Goldie is something. She is a little bit foxy with her silver hair and sassy attitude. Goldie is convinced that Beau is dead. She says she knows Beau really well and he always calls before he leaves town.
Columbo loves it when someone obeys a routine and then suddenly deviates from it. He gets a call from the department. They located Beau's car at the airport.
The He Knows
1st He Knows scene
Now in Beau's car, Columbo is sitting in the drivers seat. He is listening to country music from the tape deck. There are tons of tapes in the glove box. He suddenly gets inspiration and ejects the tape and turns on the radio and its tuned to a classical music station. He nods his head subtly in understanding. (he knows)
2nd He Knows scene
Now the former and current Mrs Williamson's are in the Williamson home and Columbo is asking questions. He asks if either of them ever drive Beau's car. They don't. He looks through Beau's appointment book and sees that he is going to miss an appointment with his doctor...a heart specialist. Then Columbo sees the blueprints for Williamson city. The current Mrs Williamson explains what Williamson City is. Goldie scoffs at the idea and the current Mrs Williamson explains that Markham said that he and Beau met on the day Beau came back into town and he loved the Williamson city plans. Columbo loves that Markham met with Beau when he came back into town. Then a smug smile. (he knows)
Columbo arrives at Markham's office and speaks with his secretary. She tells Columbo that Markham is teaching a class because he's such a wonderful guy and he feels it's his responsibility to share his knowledge. She's watering plants and yammering away about what a bigshot Markham is and Columbo begins snooping around. He sees the smashed Williamson city model. Then he sees the classical music. He ignores the protests of the secretary and puts on a classical record. He is about to leave when he points to the Williamson city model and says "what happened here?" The secretary explains that beau "smashed it to smithereens."
Columbo shows up at the lecture. Markham is speaking about how the Egyptian engineers working on the pyramids were enclosed in the tombs in order to preserve the integrity of the tomb. Some subtle foreshadowing here. The lecture ends and Columbo says to Markham that if HE ever murdered anybody he would hide the body in the foundation of the building.
Columbo asks Markham what happened to the model of Williamson city. Markham says that Beau was angry because they moved forward on the project without his permission but after Markham explained the project, Beau loved it.
Then Columbo tells Markham about the classical music. Let's listen to the clip, (31:20) "You know its a funny thing about that car...enjoy your meal" (32:55) I like the shot of Columbo at the bottom of the stairs from Markham's POV. You can't see Columbo's facial expression so it's hard to read what he knows. Then he asks Markham if he likes classical music and Markham says "guilty" as if he was answering the question that Columbo was really asking, "did you kill Beau Williamson". Then after Columbo says "enjoy your meal" Markham makes a face that confirms that he knows that Columbo knows.
Now at the construction site for Williamson city Columbo speaks with Carl. He finds out that they have all of the necessary information about the piles, like when they were laid. The piles are large concrete slabs that make up the foundation of the building.
Now at beau's doctor. The doctor gives Columbo a check-up. He's a fellow who takes himself a little too seriously. Everytime Columbo asks a question, he says "Let me put it this way..." It's like he's saying, "it's complicated, and you have to be really really smart to understand but let me dumb it down to something you can understand."
He does confirm to Columbo that Beau needed to get to the appointment to have an energy cell replaced for his pacemaker. He also mentions that beau would not have gone to another doctor. Then he gives Columbo the gears about the cigars after he asks for a light on his way out...classic.
Now Markham and the current Mrs Williamson are playing tennis. She remarks about how he can do no wrong and what a great athlete he is. He looks pretty average. I think the standards were a lot lower in the 70's. If you watch old NFL games from especially the 60's up to the early 70's you see how the players looked a lot more like average dudes. That's probably because they were regular dudes working regular jobs in factories and offices because being a professional athlete was not a career yet. You see this in Banacek when he gets into a fight or plays racquetball and is supposed to be some hotshot but actually looks incredibly average.
Mrs Williamson hits an errant ball and she runs off court to retrieve a tennis ball and finds Beau's blood stained cowboy hat. Markham makes a screwed up face. He looks like he doesn't seem to know what to think.
Mrs Williamson sure has got a skimpy tennis outfit on. I feel like it isn't clear whether we're supposed to think that Markham and Mrs Williamson are banging or whether she just admires him. On the one hand, she's in a skimpy outfit while they play tennis and she hugs him when she discovers the bloody hat, so she's clearly close with him, but, on the other hand, we haven't been given any direct evidence that they are involved intimately, like a kiss or even a look.
Now back in the Williamson home. Markham is drinking and smoking and looking worried. Mrs Williamson gets beau's army dog tags and confirms the blood type is b+. Then Columbo gets a phone call from the lab and they confirm the blood type of the blood on the hat is b+.
Now Markham shows up at Goldie's place. He tells Goldie that he thinks she created the fake evidence so that it would seem like Beau is dead because Beau's Will favors her if beau is dead. He got the will from the current Mrs. Williamson. Then suddenly Columbo enters and says that he spoke with Goldie's masseuse and she said that Goldie had a cut on her leg. Also, Columbo had Goldie's blood type checked at city hall because they needed it for the marriage certificate and it is also b+. Goldie confesses and they just let it go. Columbo asks Markham for the will.
Now Columbo is at the construction site. He's asking Carl about the piles again. Markham arrives. He starts goading Columbo, suggesting that he dig up pile D3. Columbo suggests that Markham had a motive. He explains that if beau is dead, his money goes into trust and the current Mrs. Williamson gets an allowance and Goldie gets 25%. This would mean no Williamson city. On the other hand, if beau is not found, the current Mrs. Williamson can spend the money without restriction. It's in Markham's interest that Beau go missing but not turn up dead. Then Columbo realizes that Markham really wants him to dig up the pile so he asks Markham how much it would cost and what's involved. He's letting Markham take him where he wants him to go.
Now we have a huge filler scene with Columbo at city hall. He doesn't know where to go. He's in long line-ups. it's expensive. Exacerbated ex-hale. Exacerbated hands through hair. Exacerbated hand on elbow and pinching bridge of nose. Rude public service employees.
And we're back. Let's recap what's happened thus far.
Elliott Markham is building his great masterpiece with backing from absent globe trotter Beau Wlliamson. When Williamson returns from Europe and discovers the plans, he shuts down the project and calls Elliott a con-man. In order to continue his project, Elliott kills Beau and hides the body but ex-wife Goldie knows something is not right.
Columbo has locked onto Elliott but without a body will not be able to make an arrest.
Another huge filler scene at the construction site. Digging out pile. Columbo pretending to look worried. Markham has invited the media so that the humiliation is maximized. They don't find anything. Everyone leaves. Columbo apologizes to Markham. Markham tells Carl they'll refill the pile in the morning. Markham seems convinced that it was real.
Now in the evening, Markham drives to where beau's body is hidden. He gets it from the barn and puts it in his trunk. He's driving, listening to classical, smug. He blows a tire and the car skids to a stop. A patrolman on a motorbike pulls over and asks Markham to pop his trunk so that he can help with the spare. Markham hesitates, then he manages to tell the officer that his spare doesn't have any air so they can't use it. Good thing the officer didn't have a pump. The officer says he'll send a tow truck along. The officer drives away and Markham changes the tire himself and continues driving.
Markham pulls into the construction site. Its dark. He gets out of the car and is about to open the trunk when some flood lights come on. Let's listen to the clip, (1:08:38) "Evening mr Markham...they don't mix" (1:10:21)
And there you have it. A medicore episode.
Episode rank is ??
Patrick O'Neal https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_O%27Neal_(actor)
- born died
- 2 Columbo episodes
- other acting credits
I give Elliott Markham a 3 out of 5 on the villain scale. Elliott was smug and arrogant--arrogant to the point of hubris, killing a man so that he can finish his project. But in the end, the entire murder seemed to be a bit of an overreaction. He was already a successful architect. There didn't seem to be a pressing need to commit murder.
That being said, Beau was probably a little too verbally confrontational with Markham and that may have pushed him towards committing the murder. Beau humiliated Markham by calling him a con-man and taunted him by gently slapping his face.
Beau Williamson was a well done character. I would have liked to see more of him and especially a scene with him and Goldie.
Next week on the Predictably Treacherous podcast we have the films of Don Dohler
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