Columbo (1971–2003)
29 user 4 critic

Identity Crisis 

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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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 ...


Nelson Brenner, a top CIA operative, is really a double agent who finds it necessary to rid himself of a fellow spy and make it look like a mugging. Brenner inadvertently leaves tiny clues in a photo shop at a carnival, on Brenner's corpse at the beach, in a tape recording he makes while in his Agency-approved identity as a speech-writing consultant - the kind of clues that no one would ever pick up on. No one, that is, except the rumpled, redoubtable Lt. Columbo. The indefatigable detective will find himself followed by mysterious agents, visited by the top man himself and entertained with a recording of "Madame Butterfly" in Brenner's own mansion before solving this difficult case. Written by J. Spurlin

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Release Date:

2 November 1975 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Director and co-star Patrick Mcgoohan's first turn at directing an episode of Columbo. He also directed episode 6 of the same season and stared in another episode, 1974's "By Dawn's Early Light", directed by Harvey Hart. This epidode co-stars Bruce Kirby; "By Dawn's Early Light" co-stars Kirby's son Bruno. See more »


Columbo and Brenner are conversing across the garden table and Brenner pours some juice from pitcher into glass filling glass about 1/3 full before he takes a sip. When the camera cuts to face Brenner the glass is shown almost full before the camera cuts again to show Columbo and glass is now less full again. Last camera cut again shows glass less full, but more full than after only sip taken by Brenner. Clearly editing shows different filming of sane scene. See more »


Gas Station Attendant: Want me to wipe your windshield, sir?
Lt. Columbo: No, that's all right. Don't bother. I can see through it.
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References The Prisoner (1967) See more »


Un bel di vedremo
from Madama Butterfly
Composed by Giacomo Puccini
Heard over the End Credits
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User Reviews

My Two Cents'
7 February 2010 | by (London) – See all my reviews

I enjoyed this episode, but some bits bugged me. I found Columbo's treatment of the other policeman when he first arrived at the scene of the crime out of character. Columbo has always been very polite no matter how tense the situation, so it seems inconsistent to have him so abruptly order them around. Similarly out of character was his unabashed and persistent starting at the belly dancer. In the past he always found it impossible to look at semi-clad women, which endeared him far more to the audience. The fake Korean? Chinese? spoken. Probably jars more today than in the 70's but it's a bit sloppy not to have McGoohan learn a few lines phonetically. Finally: motive. What was the motive? A murder without a motive is like a riddle without an answer. Are we to assume it was just the arcane shenanigans of double agents, or did I miss something?

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