A stage illusionist kills his employer and makes it look like a contract killing; it's up to Lt. Columbo to trick the master trickster.

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
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The Great Santini
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Sgt. John J. Wilson
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...
Harry Blandford
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Della
George Sperdakos ...
Thackery
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Clerk
Redmond Gleeson ...
George Thomas
Patrick Culliton ...
...
Lassiter
Robert Gibbons ...
Rogers
Michael Payne ...
Jefferson
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Storyline

The Great Santini, a successful Los Angeles night-club illusionist, is really an ex-Nazi named Stefan Mueller. When his employer, Jesse Jerome, threatens to reveal his true identity to the Israeli government, Santini kills Jerome in a cleverly conceived scheme to commit the crime while in the process of performing an act on stage, in which he is bound by chains and submerged in a tank. Lieutenant Columbo, the cheaply dressed yet extremely intelligent detective from the LAPD's Homicide Division, arrives to investigate Jerome's murder and instantly suspects Santini. Columbo patronizingly pursues Santini with incessant questions while searching for a clue to prove Santini's guilt and to dispel the illusionist's "perfect" crime. Written by Kevin McCorry <mmccorry@nb.sympatico.ca>

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29 February 1976 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In what appears to be pure coincidence, given the timing, the main character of this segment is named The Great Santini, the title of Pat Conroy's autobiographical novel published the same year, later made into a film starring Robert Duvall. See more »

Goofs

When the sergeant explains the workings of the IBM typewriter to Columbo he puts a piece of paper in the machine. The paper is not present when the shot focuses on the ball with letter symbols. See more »

Quotes

Lt. Columbo: I figure he's the kind of man that could do almost anything if he put his mind to it.
Michael Lally: You mean his hand to it.
Lt. Columbo: Right.
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Connections

References Charade (1963) See more »

Soundtracks

Charade
Music by Henry Mancini
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Sung by cabaret singer and incorporated into the background score
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User Reviews

Nice variant on the old formula
29 October 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's a clever, and appropriate, idea for a Columbo episode to be about magic and a magician. The many would-be successful murderers in the series have a bag of conjurer's tricks – ironclad, albeit fake, alibis; false clues; a gift for making incriminating evidence (and inconvenient witnesses) disappear; a seeming ability to be in two places at once. But as all the bad guys discover the Lieutenant always is able to pick the lock of the (illusory) perfect crime. Another clever aspect of this story is that Columbo, in the handcuffs scene, forces the villain to show his hand, as it were, in a very public way, by appealing to his sense of professional ethics and pride, much like Robert Donat and Mr. Memory in The 39 Steps.


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