Columbo (1971–2003)
33 user 5 critic

Identity Crisis 

A top CIA operative commits murder the way only a brilliant spy can, never guessing he'll have to contend with a man like Lt. Columbo.


Patrick McGoohan


William Driskill, Richard Levinson (created by) | 1 more credit »

On Disc

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Patrick McGoohan ... Nelson Brenner
Otis Young ... Lawrence Melville
Val Avery ... Louie
Leslie Nielsen ... A.J. Henderson
David White ... Phil Corrigan
Bruce Kirby ... Sergeant George Kramer
Vito Scotti ... Salvatore De Fonte
Barbara Rhoades ... Joyce
William Mims William Mims ... Gallery Attendant
Carmen Argenziano ... Coroner Anderson
Cliff Carnell ... Photo Shop Man
Edward Bach Edward Bach ... Executive
Paul Gleason ... Parsons
Angela May Angela May ... Ruth


Nelson Brenner, a top CIA operative, is really a double agent who finds it necessary to rid himself of a fellow spy and make it look like a mugging. Brenner inadvertently leaves tiny clues in a photo shop at a carnival, on Henderson's corpse at the beach, in a tape recording he makes while in his Agency-approved identity as a speech-writing consultant - the kind of clues that no one would ever pick up on. No one, that is, except the rumpled, redoubtable Lt. Columbo. The indefatigable detective will find himself followed by mysterious agents, visited by the top man himself and entertained with a recording of "Madame Butterfly" in Brenner's own mansion before solving this difficult case. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

barkeeper | cia | spy | agent | mansion | See All (72) »


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

2 November 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Doppio gioco See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Monica, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Director and co-star Patrick Mcgoohan's first turn at directing an episode of Columbo. He also directed episode 6 of the same season and stared in another episode, 1974's "By Dawn's Early Light", directed by Harvey Hart. This epidode co-stars Bruce Kirby; "By Dawn's Early Light" co-stars Kirby's son Bruno. See more »


When Columbo goes to the hot dog stand, there is a salt shaker, sugar, and a ceramic cup on the counter. When the shot is shown from behind Columbo, the ceramic cup is empty. When the shot shows the front of Columbo, the cup is filled with wooden utensils. See more »


Gas Station Attendant: Want me to wipe your windshield, sir?
Lt. Columbo: No, that's all right. Don't bother. I can see through it.
See more »


References The Prisoner (1967) See more »


Un bel di vedremo
from Madama Butterfly
Composed by Giacomo Puccini
Heard over the End Credits
See more »

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User Reviews

My Two Cents'
7 February 2010 | by lovethathatSee all my reviews

I enjoyed this episode, but some bits bugged me. I found Columbo's treatment of the other policeman when he first arrived at the scene of the crime out of character. Columbo has always been very polite no matter how tense the situation, so it seems inconsistent to have him so abruptly order them around. Similarly out of character was his unabashed and persistent starting at the belly dancer. In the past he always found it impossible to look at semi-clad women, which endeared him far more to the audience. The fake Korean? Chinese? spoken. Probably jars more today than in the 70's but it's a bit sloppy not to have McGoohan learn a few lines phonetically. Finally: motive. What was the motive? A murder without a motive is like a riddle without an answer. Are we to assume it was just the arcane shenanigans of double agents, or did I miss something?

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