Columbo and the Conjuror

I'm going to leave this coat in the car, if someone tries to lift it you look the other way - Columbo

Peter Falk in Columbo: Now You See Him (1976)

Los Angeles night-club illusionist The Great Santini (Jack Cassidy) has had enough of the club owner, Jesse Jerome (Nehemiah Persoff), paying him a small commission. Trouble is that Jesse knows The Great Santini is really Stefan Mueller who when he was 21 was a Nazi and now Jesse is blackmailing him to perform for less money or be shopped to the Israeli government. So that is when Santini comes up with a cunning plan to murder Jesse in the middle of one his illusions where he appears to be in a locked box suspended in a tank of water. But when Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk) arrives at the scene he knows full well not to trust Santini's alibi and sets about causing the illusionist to trip up when it comes to his ego for being a great magician.

So Lieutenant Columbo has a new raincoat and he is unhappy, it's a gift from his wife but he doesn't feel comfortable in it as it is stiff and he can't focus. You may wonder why I am fixating on Columbo and his new raincoat? Well it is are introduction to Columbo in "Columbo: Now You See Him" and as you can imagine, the shabby lieutenant is quite comical when he is unsettled by the stiffness of his raincoat which you can believe as he is a fan of the old and the familiar. But it also hints to how "Columbo: Now You See Him" plays out because we have Columbo playing it comically humble as he sets about questioning Santini.

Robert Loggia and Jack Cassidy in Columbo: Now You See Him (1976)

On top of Columbo playing humble and doing his bumbling routine, which fans will be familiar with, what we also have is the pleasure of Jack Cassidy playing a magician and so we have some wonderful hand magic. And we don't just get illusions as the whole thing is incorporated in to the story with Columbo manipulating Santini's ego to get him to make a mistake. What this means is that "Columbo: Now You See Him" is one of those episodes which puts a smile on your face because Columbo spends most of the episode with a smile on his face.

What this all boils down to is that "Columbo: Now You See Him" is a typical and solid episode of Columbo with a slight humorous vibe with Columbo playing it dumb to lure the killer in to making a mistake.

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