Lt. Columbo: Always remember it's a trick. Keep that in mind and you can figure out how it's done.
Max Dyson: 'Elliot Blake?' I've been reading about you. European journals. When did you change your name?
Elliott Blake: When I got out, Max. Three years after you.
Max Dyson: A hundred and twenty degrees in the shade, or an afternoon of poker in the Ugandan prison.
Elliott Blake: I read that in your book, 'Dyson on Mind Reading.' You're giving away our secrets, Max.
Max Dyson: We survivied the African slammer, together. You were a very good student.
Elliott Blake: Why not? You taught me everything you know. Everything I know.
Elliott Blake: The third card after a wavy line is always false. How many times have we been through this?
Dr. Paula Hall: I'm sorry, Elliott. I - I tried.
Elliott Blake: 'Try' to understand; there's a precision to all this, and it starts with the premise that you will lose your institute unless you please the military and Mr. Harrow. Do you think you pleased them, Paula?
Dr. Paula Hall: No, not yet.
Elliott Blake: Not yet, because you gave them 74% accuracy when you and I agreed to set a level of 86%.
Dr. Paula Hall: Right! We'll rehearse it...
[picks up ESP cards]
Dr. Paula Hall: again. The first answer after the square is always true, unless there's an intervening circle, and the second answer after a wavy line is always false, unless that wavy line itself is false... or is it true?
[throws cards at Elliott]
Dr. Paula Hall: God, I don't know anymore! So much for our scientific study of extrasensory perception.
Elliott Blake: Our Mr. Harrow is not impressed by statistics. This man is in the market for miracles. I have the power to astonish him, you, and the entire world, Paula, but I am NOT a dancing dog in a carnival!
Dr. Paula Hall: [referring to Mr. Harrow] Elliott, he will be back tomorrow. We have to show him more. God, we never should have started this!
Elliott Blake: We "started this" for you. To maintain your funding, my dearest doctor.
Mr. Harrow: The Soviet Union is deeply engaged in psychic research for intelligence purposes. Now, either they're a pack of fools, or we're missing a very important vet. Take a position, Dr. Hall.
Dr. Paula Hall: Our position is obvious, Mr. Harrow. In terms of practical results, Elliott's scores are the highest ever recorded at this institute.
Mr. Harrow: In that case, the next time we suspect a double agent in our midst, I'll just frighten him to death with your test scores.
Elliott Blake: Exactly what do you want of me?
Mr. Harrow: Hard proof of your abilities.
Elliott Blake: The impossible on demand.
Mr. Harrow: That's a fair description.
Colonel Eckherdt: For a subject of your qualifications.
Elliott Blake: What flavor impossible?
Mr. Harrow: In general terms, a demonstration that you can telepathically and precisely intercept the thoughts and actions of an enemy. Fair enough?
Mr. Harrow: I'm sure you're both familiar with Max Dyson.
Max Dyson: April Fool, Paula. Say hello to the boogeyman.
Dr. Paula Hall: THIS is your authority? A fake magician?
Max Dyson: Fake? I'm a magician, 'Max the Magnificent,' a pretty good mentalist in my time. I certainly learned all the tricks.
Mr. Harrow: You are aware that Mr. Dyson has made a specialty out of dealing with psychics.
Colonel Eckherdt: The expression is "exposing charlatans."
Dr. Paula Hall: This institute exposes charlatans.
Max Dyson: Good. We ought to get along fine.
Max Dyson: You're Elliott Blake.
Elliott Blake: And you're Max. 'The Magnificent.'
Max Dyson: Just so we understand each other, I've tested hundreds of you people;
Max Dyson: your incredible, mystical, psychic gifts.
Elliott Blake: Surely some were genuine?
Max Dyson: None. Not a one. Nothing I couldn't explain and duplicate. That's in case anyone here thinks I'm a believer.
Mr. Harrow: You realize what this means, Mr. Blake?
Elliott Blake: Yes. It could mean the end of my career.
Elliott Blake: Or possibly yours, Max.
Max Dyson: What are you going to do about the test, Elliott?
Elliott Blake: I'm going to try and fool you, Max. Unless you back off.
Max Dyson: I can't do that. You can.
Elliott Blake: No, no, no. Gone too far now.
Max Dyson: For both of us. You better be good, kid.
Elliott Blake: Oh, I am, Max. I'm very good.
Elliott Blake: What is all this?
Max Dyson: It's a guillotine. I don't exactly get rich hiring out to people like Mr. Harrow. This? I build magic effects. I have a magic store downstairs.
[Max demonstrates by placing a head of cabbage in the guillotine, chopping it in half]
Max Dyson: Do me a favor? Lie down.
[nodding to the guillotine bench]
Elliott Blake: Why did you help me today, Max?
Max Dyson: Quite a little stunt we pulled. Maybe we should take it on the road.
Elliott Blake: Why, Max?
Max Dyson: You have to ask me that, after what we went through in Uganda? So we cooked up a little illusion for Mr. Harrow. I'll survive the insult. See how you like this.
[Max triggers the guillotine, and the blade falls, but leaves Elliott unharmed]
Max Dyson: Beautiful effects, huh?
Elliott Blake: You know, Max, for a moment this afternoon, I really thought you were going to betray me. Again.
Max Dyson: What do you mean?
Elliott Blake: Well, that show that you put on? Well, I thought it might be to, uh, make it up to me, you know? For what happened, in the prison?
[pulls out a revolver and points it at Max]
Elliott Blake: REMEMBER, Max? The escape we planned? And then, one day, you vanished! 'Max the Magnificent' was out. And the guards knew exactly where to look for my clever little escape tools, hm?
Max Dyson: My God, is that what you think?
Elliott Blake: I 'think' you sold me, Max. Freedom for you.
Elliott Blake: THREE MORE YEARS for me!
Max Dyson: That isn't true!
Elliott Blake: And every hour, of every night, I dreamt of being like this -
Max Dyson: They let me go!
- here and now!
Max Dyson: I gave them money! I never betrayed you! I never gave them you! You want to kill me, you can, but... I remember what we meant to each other in that place. What we gave each other. And then put it together with this - CRAZINESS, IT - IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE!
[cringes, expecting Elliott to shoot]
Elliott Blake: [puts up revolver in non-threatening manner] Okay, Max.
[empties bullets from revolver]
Elliott Blake: I had to know.
Elliott Blake: No guilt to hide, hm? Finish up.
[Elliott picks up guillotine collar from the floor, and examines the 'safe' and 'danger' labels, figuring out how the guillotine trick works]
Elliott Blake: And then, uh, perhaps we can have a drink, hm?
Max Dyson: Almost done.
Elliott Blake: Well, you'll need this.
[puts collar in place, bolting it shut, trapping Max's head under the blade]
Max Dyson: No! What are you doing?
Elliott Blake: [pulling out safety bolt as he looks down on Max] Tell me again, about our 'friendship?'
Max Dyson: You don't understand, I had to get out of that place!
[Max screams as he sees the blade fall, before it kills him]
Elliott Blake: You didn't really think I had forgiven you, did you, Max?
Lt. Columbo: [walks into bar] Lieutenant Columbo, Homicide. You the owner?
Sgt. Russo: [waving Columbo to the bar before presenting his badge] Sergeant Russo, retired.
Lt. Columbo: What's the problem, here, Sergeant?
Sgt. Russo: [nodding to the bucket behind the bar] Blood.
[Blood is dripping from above. Columbo looks up to see a red stain on the ceiling]
Lt. Columbo: Well, what's up there?
Sgt. Russo: Some kind of workshop. Belongs to the magic shop next door.
Bert Spindler: [holds up a drink in a toast] To Max the Magnificent.
Lt. Columbo: To Max, sir, and all these tricks, you know how they all work?
Bert Spindler: That's my job. A very beautiful and ancient art.
Lt. Columbo: And the uh, mind reading part, how did that all work?
Bert Spindler: Consultant; universities, corporations, government agencies. Exposing those ESP people. He even wrote a book on it: 'Dyson on Mind Reading.' Max was so good himself, he never found a psychic who wasn't a fake. Until yesterday.
Lt. Columbo: Is that a fact, sir?
Bert Spindler: He conducted a big test out at some think tank institute. Really shook him up.
Lt. Columbo: [referring to the workshop, and demonstrating one of the tricks] The whole place is one big magic trick. You can't believe anything you see.
Medical Examiner: [talking to a reporter] Both doors were locked from the inside. Freight elevator, locked. The door to the stairs, locked. The safety bolt over there, it's hangin' from its chain, I mean, the guy obviously screwed up. I'm gonna give you this one as an accident and you can count on it.
[Columbo picks up guillotine collar from the floor]
Medical Examiner: Hey, that was off when I got here.
Lt. Columbo: It was off when I got here, too.
Medical Examiner: [to reporter] I mean, it could have been a suicide, but whoever heard of a suicide with a guillotine? I'm still gonna give you this one as an accident.
Lt. Columbo: [handing collar to forensic tech] Have the lab check this out for blood.
[to medical examiner with a shrug]
Lt. Columbo: You never know.
Bert Spindler: He was loved. Well, not by those mind readers and psychics; they weren't so crazy about him, once he got on their case. But magicians loved him. I loved him.
Lt. Columbo: I've never seen so many wonderful tricks. Those beautiful Chinese rings, and that terrific birdcage. Once, on a vacation with Mrs. Columbo, I saw a magician make a tiger disappear right out of the ring, but I've never seen a trick like that guillotine trick upstairs. That must be some dangerous trick.
Bert Spindler: Not if you're careful. Max built in some safeguards, made it all foolproof.
Lt. Columbo: What happened to Max, that didn't look very foolproof. How do you explain that?
Bert Spindler: Are you sure you won't join me, Lieutenant?
Lt. Columbo: No, thank you very much, sir.
Bert Spindler: Max must have gotten careless. Forgot to lock in the safety bolt.