Columbo: Season 5, Episode 5

Now You See Him (29 Feb. 1976)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Reviews: 20 user | 3 critic

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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Episode complete credited cast:
The Great Santini
Sgt. John J. Wilson
Harry Blandford
George Sperdakos ...
Redmond Gleeson ...
George Thomas
Patrick Culliton ...
Robert Gibbons ...
Michael Payne ...


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 <>

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Release Date:

29 February 1976 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The smiling lady with short brown hair who is in the Cabaret of Magic as an appreciative fan/customer (seated at the bar) in an early scene is later seen briefly as a kitchen worker in the background behind Columbo. See more »


Detective Sergeant John J. Wilson is identified by this name not only by Columbo, but by himself, and both characters mention having worked together earlier. They did work together before in the episode "The Greenhouse Jungle" but Detective Wilson's name (played by the same actor) in that episode is Frederic, not John J. See more »


Lt. Columbo: Ooo, you're a remarkable man, Mr. Santini.
Santini: How keen of you to notice it.
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References Charade (1963) See more »


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

Corny but cool.
18 April 2000 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

This episode of Columbo has a very strong whiff of cheese about it. Think of a really bad 1970's parady of a magician and you have The Great Santini. He murders his employer who has found some damning evidence against him. Columbo has to find out whodunnit. Santini has a cast iron alibi - he was doing his "piece de resistance" escaping from a box routine. The venue for his "World famous" tricks appears to be a recently vacated Indian restaurant. Wearing his velvet cape and huge bow tie, Jack Cassidy plays Santini with a camp aloofness that obviously had paid off with his part as gay Miles in The Eiger Sanction a year previously. All I can tell you is that if I had been one of the fortunate wealthy to have paid to see The Great Santini, I would have felt hard done by. Obviously constricted by the types of magic tricks they could blow the cover on, the producers of this episode had to stick with the "chained up in a box and trap-door" routine.

Columbo takes a surprisingly long time to catch him out, naively believing a trick that isn't even worthy of Paul Daniels. The best bits involve the run up to the box trick, Santini doing a routine with a top hat and doves (yawn). Then, when he is in the box a woman in a leotard does a trick with a long tape on a stick (something I used to do quite well as a five old). In the background, to increase the tension (!) a percussionist does the Tss tss tsstss tss tsstss brrrrum tss tss, etc that always leads up to a finale and enthusiastic applause as Santini emerges unscathed. How did he do that? You will have to watch it and see, but I guarantee to those Columbo fans like myself that this is an entertaining yarn and in some instances downright amusing. Columbo's mannerisms are, as always, are at their usual eccentric best.

5 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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