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?


When they first meet in the amusement park, Brenner (Patrick McGoohan) asks Geronimo/ Henderson (Leslie Nielsen) how he got away from the Tupamaro. The Tupamaro were a real left-wing terrorist organization active in Uruguay in the '60s and '70s. Among other crimes, they carried out bomb attacks, murdered FBI agent Dan Mitrione, and kidnapped the then British Ambassador to Uruguay Geoffrey Jackson. One of its membersh (Pepe Mujica) went on to be democratically elected president of Uruguay in 2009 after serving 14 years in prison. See more »


When Columbo checks with the photo booth regarding identifying photos, he is shown color Polaroid prints from a pack-film camera and is told they have the negatives as well. The only Polaroid packs which produce a printable negative are in B&W (and the negatives he is shown are indeed B&W). See more »


[last lines]
Lt. Columbo: Would you like to hear something funny?
Nelson Brenner: I'd love to.
Lt. Columbo: Today, the Chinese, they changed their minds.
Nelson Brenner: Did they, again?
Lt. Columbo: They're back in the Games.
Nelson Brenner: In the Games. Mahjong.
Lt. Columbo: Mahjong.
See more »


References Secret Agent X-9 (1945) 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

They cut out the clue!
14 August 2004 | by chuck-295See all my reviews

In 1975 I saw this episode on the first run.

Roughly fifteen years later I saw this episode on late night television and they cut the clue scene short five seconds before the clue.

This week I saw this episode on Bravo and they cut out the scene with the clue entirely.

I won't spoil it for you, but it would be a much better episode if they showed the full scene of the perp driving his car in the early morning light, listening to the car radio, the morning after the murder.

(Is it okay to say that there was a murder?)

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