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 <mmccorry@nb.sympatico.ca>

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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?


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 »


While performing the water trick for the second time Santini take off his cape twice See more »


Lt. Columbo: Can you verify that?
Santini: Can I verify WHAT?
Lt. Columbo: That you were actually here?
Santini: Well, you really ARE something.
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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

jack cassidy + peter falk= pure magic on screen
29 March 2012 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This the third Columbo that Jack Cassidy has played the villain and sadly the last. This is my favorite of the three where Cassidy plays the Great Santini who is on a us tour for his magic act. Santini's boss is aware that the Great Santini used to be an ex-Nazi named stefan Mueller during the end of world war II and the exposure of this leads Santini to preform the " perfect murder." In my opinion this was one of the most clever murders of the entire series due to beguiling tricks up Santini's sleeve. Once Peter Falk joins the festivities the pure magic begins as these two icons of film trifle around about magic tricks and secrets that must be revealed to sort out alibi's. Lt Columbo states "Your really not in that cube"? This terrific episode continues with other side acts including a Sergeant from a previous Columbo titled "The Greenhouse Jungle" returns to rekindle some comic relief with Lt Columbo. Lt Columbo constantly forgetting his new coat and Seargent Wilson always finding it for him is some of the funniest moments in the series. As good as Falk is here the show really belongs to Cassidy with his cocksure panache and smug posture really is convinced that he has preformed the perfect murder until Columbo tests his abilities to pick a pair of handcuffs for hardened criminals. This particular scene is one of tense moments in the entire series. Cassidy knows if he picks it he is guilty but still the master of illusions is more concerned about his image than to confess a murder. It's at this point Columbo moves in for the kill and starts to glean and glean some more until The Great Santini succumbs to his confession. This is in my top Five Columbo's of all time.

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