Columbo: Season 5, Episode 5

Now You See Him (29 Feb. 1976)

TV Episode  |   |  Crime, Drama, Mystery
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 1,015 users  
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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IMDbTV Pick: Showtime's "Penny Dreadful"

The subtle trick Showtime's "Penny Dreadful is that it is far less about the blood, gore and the specter of gruesome death than the sharp pain and exhilarating pleasure of living, and the terror of feeling alone even in close company. Read our review in the May Picks section.

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Title: Now You See Him (29 Feb 1976)

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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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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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?


Nehemiah Persoff types the name "Stefan Meuller" on the letter to the INS. This name comes from "Twilight Zone - Judgement Night" Persoff plays a U-Boat commander and James Franciscus plays his Leftenant "Meuller". See more »


When Columbo makes his first visit to the cabaret to interview Santini, he finds Santini practicing card tricks on stage to an empty room. Santini wears a gray sports jacket, but the close-up hand shots of the card tricks he does show that they are being done by someone wearing a jacket with a black-and-white checkered pattern. See more »


Santini: Lieutenant, what IS it about me that you find so irresistible?
Lt. Columbo: Why, you know how it is, sir. I gotta check out all the leads until I get my man.
See more »


References Charade (1963) See more »


Music by Henry Mancini
Lyrics by Johnny Mercer
Sung by cabaret singer and incorporated into the background score
See more »

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User Reviews

Magic Marker
18 October 2005 | by (Brooklyn NY USA) – See all my reviews

(Some Spoilers) Being the top act at Jesse Jerome's, Nehemiah Persoff, Cabaret Club The Great Santini, Jack Cassidy,demanded and got a 90% cut of the profits every night that he preformed.

Jerome looking for a reason to stick it to Santini comes up with a goldmine of information that can put the arrogant and "Great One" in his place and have him work for practically nothing. Jerome gets a hold of a document that The Great Santini was a Nazi prison guard in WWII named Stephen Mueller. Mueller is wanted by just about every law enforcement agency in the free and non-free world.

Jerome calling Santini into his office tells him that if he doesn't have his cut of the purse, $45,000.00, on his office table by tomorrow night he'll send a letter to the US Immigration Service and expose his past as a Nazi war criminal in WWII. I for one was struck by the contrast between Jerome and Santini at the showdown in Jerome's office. Sweating either like a man suffering from a very bad case of heat stroke or on death row awaiting to be executed at sunrise Jerome is at the same time also busy gulping down loads of fresh shrimps, to the point where he may well end up choking on them. Santini is as cool as a cucumber without a worry in the world when you would have thought that it would have been, under the circumstances, the other way around between the two.

It should have dawned on Jerome that The Great Santini had an ace up his sleeve and sure enough the next evening as he's doing his underwater tank disappearance act Santini in disguise sneaks into Jerome's office. Fining Jerome all alone by his typewriter Santini shoots him dead.

With a perfect alibi Santini seems to be home free with his 90% share of the purse and his secret identity as a Nazi in WWII safe from the authorities. Santini doesn't realize that for all his planning he made a big mistake. When Santini left Jerome for dead he was also sitting at his typewriter banging out a letter implication him as a war criminal. Satini was astute enough to pull out the typewriter paper that Jerome was typing on as well as take he documents of him being a Nazi, and burn them, but what he forgot to do was take out the typewriter ribbon that left a record of what the deceased Mr. Jerome was typing.

Let. Colombo, Peter Falk, on the scene with a brand new raincoat seemed perplexed by who killed Jerome at first but with a little bit of knowledge of magic, and his old raincoat back on,he quickly got with the swing of things and cracked the case wide open. Santini thinking that Let. Columbo was just a royal pain in his butt at first,and could be removed as easily as a wood splinter, didn't realize that Let. Columbo was getting the goods on him; by Isolating Santini from the platform that he was on at the time of Jerome's murder to placing him in Jerome's office.

Santini himself had to admit to Let. Columbo that the entire act, the water tank disappearance, was done off stage so it destroyed his alibi that he was nowhere near Jerome when he was murdered. It was placing Jerome where he was, in his office, and what he was doing, typing out a letter, that in the end did The Great Santini. This exposed not only who he really was and why but why the Great Santini would go as far as murder to keep that secret from coming out.

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