Monday 2 December 2013

Mystery Painting

This post has a loose art theme to it but it mostly regards television. I have become somewhat disillusioned with TV of late, I can’t really explain why but I find that they rarely make programs that interest me these days. So now I turn to my dvd’s for my evening television fix. Immersing myself in classic television shows, programs that I feel “got it right” case in point Columbo, the undisputed classic. It seldom gets better than this, I have been a fan of this show for as long as I can remember. I love everything about it, the premise, the stories, casting and above all the character of Columbo, Peter Falk’s gift to the world. As far as I’m concerned Falk’s acting was flawless and his devotion for the character shined through. BUT this post is not about that.
I would instead like to direct your attention to the season 3 episode "A Friend in Deed" from 1974. In which Columbo matches wits against a deputy police commissioner (played Richard Kiley). When Columbo visits him in his office, you will note that there is a painting hanging on the wall behind him. I believe it to be Westminster Bridge (a nod to Season 2’s "Dagger of the Mind" from 1972 in which Columbo visits London perhaps?) “So what?!” I hear you ask well let me move on from a well loved Universal Studios classic to a horribly under rated one…

Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Darren McGavin plays Carl Kolchak a Chicago newspaper reporter who investigates mysterious crimes involving the supernatural or the unexplained. Sadly the series only had one season and it’s only claim to fame was that it was cited as the inspiration for The X-Files.
But if we watch episode 13 "Primal Scream" from 1975 in which Kolchak tries to uncover the truth behind rampaging prehistoric primates we see one particular scene involving the reception area of a PR’s office… See it? It’s the same painting as the one we saw in Columbo! Different frame but without a doubt it’s the same painting. Some of you may well be still asking “So what?!” both shows were made by Universal and so their props must come from the same warehouse. Well I love this sort of thing! It connects my favourite shows.  Since making this discovery both Mrs Jones and I have been looking out for it in other episodes, didn’t take long though, as a matter of fact it only took six more episodes…

Episode 19 "The Youth Killer" Helen of Troy drains the youth from the unsuspecting people that sign up for her dating agency and in her office we see the painting again! So, was it used in any other Universal programs? I will keep this post open in the hope that some of you out there might be able to name other Universal Television show’s or movies in which this painting featured! Perhaps even provide some information on the painting itself or the artist? (I hope so because I have a perfect spot to hang a print of it!) Any information or comments leave them at the bottom of the page or contact me directly and I will update accordingly!

Update: 20/02/2014 Well, the mystery painting turned up yet again in another of my favourite TV shows The Rockford Files! The brilliant, James Garner plays Jim Rockford a Los Angeles-based private investigator in a show, which ticks all the right boxes for me! In Episode 2 of Season 5 "Rosendahl and Gilda Stern Are Dead" from 1978, Rockford tries to help his friend Rita Capkovic prove her innocence when she is accused of murdering a prominent doctor and as they sneak into the office of Dr. Russell… There’s the painting again! Albeit very briefly but its undoubtedly the same one and in the very same frame as its previous cameo!
The search continues...

All images belong to Universal Television, no copyright infringement intended, in fact I urge you all to buy Columbo, The Rockford Files and Kolchak: The Night Stalker dvd’s right now!
(everything else however) © Arfon Jones 2013.

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