Columbo: Season 5, Episode 3

Identity Crisis (2 Nov. 1975)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 892 users  
Reviews: 26 user | 3 critic

A top CIA operative commits murder the way only a brilliant spy can, never guessing he'll have to contend with a man like Lt. Columbo.



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Title: Identity Crisis (02 Nov 1975)

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Otis Young ...
Lawrence Melville
Geronimo / "A.J. Henderson"
Phil Corrigan
Salvatore Defonte
William Mims ...
Gallery Attendant
Coroner Anderson
Cliff Carnell ...
Photo Shop Man
Edward Bach ...
Angela May ...


The deceptively absent-minded police lieutenant, Columbo, investigates a complex murder case, pitting his wits against a wily secret agent working for a covert government organisation. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

2 November 1975 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Director Patrick McGoohan, also guest starring as an intelligence agent, inserted many references to his cult TV series, The Prisoner (1967), including saying "Be seeing you!" and, in one scene, wearing an outfit almost identical to that which had been his standard costume in the earlier program. See more »


Joyce the camera lady's hands are both down on the counter when Columbo says "Let me check over something." The camera changes and Joyce's left hand is now up, touching her face. See more »


Nelson Brenner: Do you like music?
Lt. Columbo: Well, I hear it all the time.
See more »


References Secret Agent X-9 (1945) See more »


Un bel di vedremo
from Madama Butterfly
Composed by Giacomo Puccini
Heard over the End Credits
See more »

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User Reviews

Another Columbo classic
13 March 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I am a big Columbo fan, and I have always had a soft spot for this episode. It is not absolutely perfect, the scene with Columbo fumbling for change is a little overlong for my tastes, and while the deduction on Columbo's part was brilliant I did also feel that Brenner gave up too easily, it just seemed strange that a man as calculating and smart as he was would give up just like that. However, Identity Crisis looks wonderful, with beautiful locations and slick photography. There is an atmospheric score as well as Patrick McGoohan's purposefully languid but very effective direction, the sharp, witty writing with the "do you have some wine?" and "do you like music?" exchanges standing out and occasionally convoluted but very cleverly written and interesting story. My favourite scene of Identity Crisis is the scene in Brenner's mansion with Madama Butterfly playing in the background, one of Columbo's finest scenes. Peter Falk is exceptional as Columbo, while McGoohan also stars as Nelson Brenner and he is splendid, very snobbish and world-weary. A younger and more serious Leslie Nielson is a good presence as well. In conclusion, a Columbo classic. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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