Now You See Him

Episode 35 – Now You See Him

The thirty fourth episode of Columbo was titled Now You See Him and was the fifth episode of the show’s fifth season. A popular magician kills to conceal his darkest secret. In this podcast Gerry and Iain look at Columbo’s efforts to outsmart a master of illusion.

 

 

Returning for the third and final time, Jack Cassidy is our killer once more. As ‘The Great Santini’ he delivers a strong and memorable performance, portraying an arrogant culprit with a genuine belief that he’s carried out a perfect crime. Tied in to an onerous contract by manipulative club owner Jesse Jerome (Nehemiah Persoff), under threat of blackmail, Santini’s efforts to renegotiate are rebuffed. Jerome threatens to reveal Santini’s secret past as an SS officer in Nazi Germany, unaware of how vulnerable he is as the last man alive to know this about the magician.

 

Bob Dishy returned as Sergeant Wilson, his second and last appearance in the role, supporting Columbo in his inquiries. Important roles at the club are played by Robert Loggia (manager Harry Blandford), Cynthia Sikes (Santini’s daughter-cum-assistant Della) and George Sperdakos as Thankery; while Victor Izay made his second of three Columbo appearances as the locksmith Lassiter. Della’s boyfriend, the club singer, was played by Patrick Culliton, a magic aficionado himself, who briefly reflects on the episode here.

 

Perhaps the most remarkable supporting part was an uncredited role. Long-term Columbo extra Mike Lally played a retired high-wire artist who remembered Santini from the old, though post-war, days in Europe. The character is also named Mike Lally and there are a couple of complimentary lines in there for him that it’s clear the actors are enjoying.

 

Harvey Hart returned to direct in his fourth and – like Cassidy and Dishy – final stint behind the camera and the script was written by Michael Sloan, who did not write again for Columbo, but has gone on to have a strong career as is perhaps best known for creating The Equalizer, most recently portrayed on film by Denzel Washington.

 

If you have thoughts on any aspect of Now You See Him please share them below, or find us on Twitter at @columbopodcast.

 

The Columbo Podcast is widely available – on iTunes, Stitcher, tunein, Pocket Casts or pretty much wherever you choose to receive and manage your podcasts. If you enjoy the show it would be greatly appreciated if you consider leaving ratings and reviews on these sites – particularly iTunes – as that can make a big difference to growing the podcast’s audience.

 

Now You See Him was released in 1976. It is 85 minutes long and originally aired on the NBC network. It can be viewed on Netflix in the United States and is available on DVD in other countries, including a comprehensive box set of all the show’s seasons released by Universal.

 

The Columbo Podcast Team

The Columbo Podcast Team

The Columbo Podcast team develops, produces and promotes The Columbo Podcast.

  • Largo

    The Good: the wonderful Jack Cassidy as master magician ‘The Great Santini.’ The Bad: Patrick Culliton singing the song Charade as if it it was a dirge. The Ugly: how I feel about myself when I realize that I’m rooting for a freakin’ ex-Nazi! But, overall, the very best ‘Columbo meets up with a magician’ type episode. Hey, “Now You See Him” is on my Top Ten Columbo Episodes list. That last line of Columbo’s about a perfect crime being ‘just an illusion’ is also at the very top. Be seeing you!

    • Ah, but did you know Culliton is the world’s leading authority on Harry Houdini?

      • Largo

        Be that as it may, I still feel that Culliton’s performance was a total bore. Besides, this is the very best book on Houdini and Culliton’s name isn’t on the cover, eh.

        • I can well imagine a certain Mr. Depp playing Houdini. He even has a look of him.

          • Largo

            Despite the fact that I’ve had it up to here with Depp, he would be a superb choice for Harry Houdini. Make this happen Hollywood! 🙂

    • You were actually rooting for Santini to get away with it?

      • Largo

        Yes — when this first premiered on NBC, I found myself rooting for Santini momentarily. Persoff portrays such a repellant character here and Cassidy is so suave and sophisticated and smooth and a magician to boot! But his character is an ex-Nazi and my enthusiasm for Santini was quickly curbed when I remembered this. But that was then and this is now: to quote Indiana Jones – “Nazis, I hate these guys!”

        • Maybe if they had made it clearer he disliked the daughter’s boyfriend for being Jewish he’d have been less relatable.

          • Largo

            Exactly — Santini would have been totally repellant and viewers would have tuned out immediately, right after they had vomited. I know I would have!

          • saltyessentials

            Was there any hint that was the case? I totally missed it, if there was. I didn’t even pick up on him being Jewish.

          • I don’t think so, only realised it from the actor’s comments in the show notes link.

          • saltyessentials

            Hmm. Maybe it started out in the script and was deemed a little too much for prime time audiences then.

          • I do wonder, because it would have made a big impact on the killer’s likability, if that makes sense!

  • Largo

    Do you guys enjoy magic tricks, or rather, magic illusions? I gathered some of my childhood magic gizmos together here for a quick snapshot. Do you see that green painted metal device in the center? Does this look kind of familiar? Yup — I know the secret behind the illusion that actor Thayer David performed on Peter Falk in “Now You See Him.” Except Thayer David didn’t place a carrot in that bottom aperture on his mini-guillotine! The blade on the device used in this Columbo episode is supposed to magically pass through a person’s arm, but actually slice through an object placed in that bottom circular aperture. Blast — I wonder why they didn’t have Thayer David perform the complete illusion here!?! I did with my smaller scale ‘finger chopper’ and to the amazement of all of my friends. 🙂

    • You’re a braver man than me. I would never risk any body part on the mini-guillotine.

      • Largo

        There’s actually a safety check you can do when you’re ready for the ‘magic chop’ part of this illusion. If you know what to look for, Thayer David actually does this before Columbo’s arm is placed into the mini-guillotine. However, the blades on my finger chopper were/are duller than dishwater and I had to really slam the blade down to get it to actually chop those blasted toothpicks I used with it. 🙂

  • Largo

    The awesome Robert Loggia costars in “Now You See Him” as club co-owner Harry Blandford. Do any of you remember Robert Loggia as Thomas Hewitt Edward Cat from the NBC television series, T.H.E. Cat (1966-67)?

  • Largo

    Robert Loggia’s character in T.H.E. Cat (1966-67) television series was an ex-trapeze artist and ex-cat burglar turned avenging crusader against crime. Think of Mr. Cat as a type of “equalizer” before The Equalizer television series was even created. Clad entirely in black, Mr. Cat would frequently scale buildings and cross rooftops with the help of his trusty grappling hook. This series was the main cause of the breaking of my very own toy grappling hook — that was a part of my Batman utility belt that was given to me for Christmas in 1966. Here is a clip from one particular episode where Mr. Cat is attacked outside El Casa del Gato by some syndicate goons — but first the ultra-cool series opening (complete with the NBC network’s colorful peacock symbol) and Lalo Schifrin’s wonderful theme tune:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbH1_48IrjA

  • Largo

    Speaking of Robert Loggia, here is a special commercial message with him as a spokesperson for a breakfast favorite:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZIzRqDOSZo

    • Ian Baxter

      Just trying to decide who would need to walk in the door for our kids to eat their peas 🙂

      • Largo

        Lou Ferrigno in his pea-green Hulk makeup? 😉

  • Quick note on the show links – the Robert Loggia one is to TMZ, so be aware that some of the surrounding content may not be to everybody’s taste.

    Also, couldn’t get a perfect link but discovered that Ryerson University in Canada have a financial award called the Harvey Hart Director’s Award, which is named for the director of this episode. Thought that was interesting.

  • Johnny

    Ahh, just got to the bits with the handcuffs. You missed the great line, ‘A round of applause for the Lieutenant who tried to… outwit the master’. Great bit of dramatic irony.

    • Largo

      Sweet! That look Columbo gives Santini as he acknowledges that he knew Santini would succeed in freeing himself from the handcuffs sells that irony so exquisitely, eh. Columbo knows Santini is the murderer and Santini knows that he knows! 🙂

      • Yep – game, set and just waiting to conclude the match right there in that moment.

    • So many great moments in this one!

      • Largo

        Indeed! 🙂

  • Peter

    Definitely one of the strongest Columbo episodes ever with strong performances all around, except for Culliton. It was so painful watching him sing. Looking forward to listening to podcast on my way home from work.

    • Largo

      Agreed — Culliton is definitely the weak link here. Another thing that bothers me is that the producers didn’t go full bore with the various magic illusions that were performed. I guess Jack Cassidy wasn’t a member of the society of magicians or something. If I were producing this, I would have contacted professional magicians as advisors and had all of the actors involved with the magic acts sign secrecy oaths. Then I would’ve cut loose with some amazing magical illusions, eh!

  • Peter

    Wow. Culliton link looking back on episode is interesting. Did not know character Danny Green was supposed to be Jewish.

  • A thoroughly enjoyable episode, just slightly tinged with sadness at the fate of Jack Cassidy later that year, who ended up virtually emulating the title of this episode.

    There was really nothing to dislike about anything in this episode. I didn’t even mind the singer! As a bonus, I tried out the ‘think of a number between 1 and 4’ on my 5 year old daughter, who loved it. Funnily enough, I seem to recall trying this trick out the last time I watched this episode too. It cost me nothing, even though it cost Frank Columbo $17. Highlight for me was the knowing wink from our eponymous hero during the handcuff test. A memorable episode which I’ll return to.

    Last point from me is that this episode had a distinct ‘Godfather’ feel to it. I can’t put my finger on quite why that is: possibly the presence of Robert Loggia, although I don’t recall him being in the GF.

    • Largo

      There was really nothing to dislike about anything in this episode. I didn’t even mind the singer!

      You’re a much braver man than I, Kieran Wright! Or at least, a man with a stronger stomach! 😉

    • saltyessentials

      I didn’t mind the singing either. The guy’s obviously got talent, as far as vocal quality goes. As for his delivery, that was classic 70s lounge act stuff, so it fit right into the episode for me.

  • Roberto

    One of my all-time favorite Columbo episodes. So much to enjoy starting with the incomparable Jack Cassidy. I loved how the show dragged as the murder was being committed (his daughter’s magic act was pretty lame). It reminded me of Hitchcock’s famous line about how an audience would be bored listening to two guys sitting around a table talking about baseball, but if the audience knew that a bomb is strapped to the bottom of the table and is about to explode at any second the exact same scene would be immensely tense.

    Strange and wonderful scene with Michael Lally at the flophouse. As everyone probably knows by now, Lally was a good friend of Peter Falk’s and was essentially his personal assistant for many years. I recommend learning more about this strange and wonderful man.

    Musical score by Bernardo Segall was very good. Thayer David was at his creepy best as the magic shop clerk (“Are you the Great Columbo?”). Robert Loggia was good in a minor role as the nightclub manager/maitre d’. Cynthia Sikes, though not a good magician, went on to have a long and successful career as an actress. Even Dog made an appearance here.

    We know that Victor Izay played Lassiter the locksmith. And Robert Gibbons played Rogers the police lab technician. But who did Michael Payne play — that is, who was “Jefferson”? Maybe someone knows.

    Patrick Culliton (the singer Danny Green) was one of the weaker aspects of the episode. As mentioned above, his version of Charade was weird. It is supposed to be a sad song, but his version is soporific and uninteresting. Best version of the song was by Shirley Bassey in which you can hear and feel the emotion of the song in her voice.

    I have debated with friends over the years whether Danny Green was Jewish (99% agree he was), whether they should have made it clearer in the episode (most agree), and whether it would have been a good idea to have Jack Cassidy say something to his daughter like “I don’t want you seeing that Jew” (I seem to be in the minority who think that would have been great).

    Random comments about the podcast. First, I agree with Iain’s point regarding the timing of the murder vis a vis the phone call. Don’t know why this was not handled better. Also, I am guessing that the Wild Wild West episode Gerry saw with a trio of Columbo murderers (Robert Conrad, Ross Martin, and Martin Landau) was undoubtedly “The Night of the Red-Eyed Madmen” in which Landau plays a deranged Army General.

    I hope Gerry and Iain don’t mind me mentioning that this episode was the subject of great scrutiny in the “other” Columbo podcast also being undertaken at the moment (theirs is not chronological). The guest was a person who had not seen any Columbo episodes in his life before this and his reaction to this episode is quite hilarious. I don’t want to say any more for fear of spoiling it but I highly recommend people seek it out for the giggles.

    Anyway, I could talk about this Columbo episode forever. Looking forward to reading others’ views of it.

    • Largo

      “I loved how the show dragged as the murder was being committed (his daughter’s magic act was pretty lame).”

      Well, I thought Della’s legs were rather magical! 🙂

      • Roberto

        Twenty-five years later Della (Cynthia Sikes) was the love interest of the Admiral on JAG. Of course, I did not realize that it was the same beautiful actress until doing some research for this week’s Columbo podcast. See what Gerry and Iain have done?

        By the way, the IMDB website shows that Dorothy Dells was the actress who played the “secretary”. Other websites report that the “secretary” is the woman who handed Jesse Jerome the night’s receipts. But in my humble opinion Dorothy Dells does not look like that character and the age is all wrong. Again, maybe there is something worth looking into here. Note that she is also credited with being uncredited in another upcoming Columbo episode with a distinct Star Trek tie-in.

      • saltyessentials

        Standing around whirling a colorful scarf to the beat of a snare drum? Why that’s pure magic!

  • digger01

    This is probably my favorite Columbo episode, although there are a few that rank right up there. I lay the lion’s share of the success of this episode at the feet of Jack Cassidy. He simply hits all the right notes in what might have been the performance of his career.

    A solid plot is also a key asset here. The pieces of Santini’s Nazi past are woven perfectly into the story, and everything makes sense (even down to Santini’s age fitting into the timeline… Jack Cassidy himself would have been 18 years old in 1945, “just a boy”, as his character claimed.)

    Bob Dishy was amusing as the just-a-bit-underbaked Wilson, who keeps swinging and missing as Columbo’s intuition works circles around him.

    I didn’t even mind Patrick Culliton as Danny Green. I’m sure many disagree, but my take is that Della’s boyfriend was supposed to be something of a dud. That’s part of what Santini despised about him; that his daughter could do a lot better than this vacuum of personality.

    The scene at the rooming hotel with Mike Lally was a lot of fun. I haven’t yet listened to the podcast, but the back story about that scene is quite interesting, being filmed months after the episode had been completed. There’s a great interview with Lally’s son on the “Ultimate Columbo Site” that explains how Peter Falk added that scene as a gift to his friend Mike.

    Nehemiah Persoff is excellent at the sleazy and opportunistic Jesse Jerome, and the direction by Harvey Hart was engaging and stylish.

    “Now You See Him” has always been one of the high points in the Columbo series, and I’m really looking forward to hearing Gerry and Iain’s thoughts.

    Best to all!

    • Largo

      I concur, Digger — and I have since revised my Top Ten Columbo Episodes list and I have “Now You See Him” resting comfortably in the number five spot. I just have to have this one in my top five due to the excellent Jack Cassidy, the plot and, most importantly, the theme of magic. I have always enjoyed magic illusions, but the “call” of the stage magician didn’t affect me as much as it did my older brother, Richard. Richard was the true magician in our family, but our mutual interest in magic illusions started with our father.

      My dad would entertain all of us kids with some small magic tricks that he had bought throughout the years, but both my older brother and I got to assist our father with a few full-fledged magic shows that were put on for the entire family. My specialty was the Chinese Linking Rings (a birthday gift from my dad) and Rick’s was that Magic Card Frame illusion (later, a hand-me-down gift from my older brother). However, Rick was the one with the real stage presence and magic acts became a real hobby for him. By the time he entered college, Rick had purchased several professional level illusions.

      But back when Richard was in junior high school, my mother made him a magician’s cape with a red silk lining and she also got him a black top hat. This was in preparation for a junior-high talent show where Rick performed all of his magic illusions he had at that time. For every Halloween after his talent show magic act had been performed, Rick would make-over our front porch and transform it into what he called “Dracula’s Magic Castle.” So instead of just handing out candy, my older brother would perform various “spooky” illusions for all of the neighborhood children — before a disembodied hand (my older sister reaching up through our mother’s sewing table with one hand while crouching down behind some strategically placed mirrors) from inside of a box placed various candies onto a silver platter for said children. So in short, a few of the Largo family members had “magic” in their blood, eh! 🙂

      • Roberto

        Great story Largo!

        I concur with Digger above. This is probably my all-time favorite Columbo episode for the reasons I have posted in this thread at length.

        Puzzled I am how anyone can have this as “low” as their fifth favorite Columbo episode. Of course, I am joking since everyone comes at Columbo with different perspectives, expectations, backgrounds, experiences, etc.

        Largo, if you don’t mind, could you post your current Top Ten Columbo Episodes? I don’t think Iain would mind since titles alone are not really spoilers. Thanks much.

        • Largo

          Thank you, Roberto! As per your request, here is my current Top Ten Columbo Episodes List [Original NBC Series] —

          1. Identity Crisis
          2. Murder By The Book
          3. Death Lends A Hand
          4. Swan Song
          5. Now You See Him
          6. The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case
          7. Any Old Port In A Storm
          8. An Exercise In Fatality
          9. A Stitch In Crime
          10. Blueprint For Murder

          • Roberto

            Great list!

            Most of these great episodes are on my own personal Top Ten, though not in the same order.

            A notable difference is that one of my all-time favorites, Try And Catch Me, is missing from your top ten. In many ways that episode (and murderer) is unique and different people will respond to it differently.

            Anyway, thanks again for your many, varied, and sundry contributions to these threads!

          • Largo

            Thanks! Concerning the Columbo episode, “Try And Catch Me” — I just don’t get the love for this one, eh. Ruth Gordon is simply doing her ‘quirky sweet old lady’ schtick and it grates on my nerves. To me, Ruth Gordon simply plays the very same character in all of the productions that I’ve seen her in: and that character is just Ruth Gordon. As with Lee Grant, both of these actresses might be the sweetest people one could ever meet in real life (and I’ve got nothing personal against them), but when it comes to their respective performances, to me it’s just the same old-same old acting routines, eh.

  • CarlosMu

    A classic! A top-shelf Columbo villain. How great is Jack Cassidy? “Ohhhhh…. I’m the suspect…”

    • saltyessentials

      I loved that line, too.

  • Roberto

    Seems like from the comments this episode is a big fan favorite and considered one of the best-ever Columbos. It’s one of the few episodes that doesn’t have any significant plot holes or forced clues. The detective work is first-rate. The interaction between murderer and Columbo (though too brief) was great. The final gotcha was very good and quite entertaining the way Falk played it.

    Of course, there were a few minor quibbles with the plot and murder which were mentioned in the podcast, but nothing that detracts in the slightest from the quality of the episode.

    Iain (I think it was Iain) raises the point that Santini waited to the very last minute to murder Jerome so that he could find/destroy the incriminating letter. I honestly never thought of that and wonder if that was actually part of the backstory. It seemed like Jerome simply retrieved the letter from his wall safe behind one of the paintings in his office. I wouldn’t think it would be too difficult for Santini to break into the safe, but I understand that picking locks is different from cracking a safe. I wonder if Santini would have tried to open the safe after killing Jerome if the incriminating letter weren’t right on the desk. (Killing Jerome without retrieving the letter would be a second-best solution for Santini since, presumably, the police would have gone through Jerome’s safe looking for clues.)

    The one aspect of the episode (besides the singer Danny Green who truly is not bad) that I regret is the fact that they have that dolt Wilson find the key typewriter clue to solving the mystery. They could just as easily had Columbo figure it out on his own (with Wilson confirming if they want), maybe based on information from one of Columbo’s many nieces and nephews.

    “You know, Wilson, I have played around on one of these typewriters at my sister’s house out in Burbank. Her boy wants to become a newspaper reporter so they bought him an electric typewriter. (It’s their only kid so of course they spoil him rotten.) You know the newer models have disposable ribbons made from tape rather than cloth. It makes a clearer impression on the paper but you cannot reuse the ribbon. I wonder if Jerome was typing anything of importance the night he was killed.”

    Columbo takes the ribbon tape cassette out of the typewriter and unwinds the spool back to the used portion. Holding it up to the light he starts reading. “‘United States Department of Immigration and Naturalization. Washington, D.C.’ … hmmm … This is interesting…. hmmm … Here’s something about Santini … hmmm … Wilson, this is what I was looking for!”

    Of course, I love this episode so whatever quibbles I may have are small potatoes. Like several other episodes, though, I think it would have been fairly easy to significantly improve the episode, and, in this case, made it a nearly perfect episode.

    • Largo

      Speaking of that IBM Selectric typewriter, here is an interesting tidbit from the “Goofs” section at the IMDB for “Now You See Him” —

      The IBM Selectric does not create a “readable” line of text as it types (as shown as Columbo holds it up to the light). The letters appear as a cascading and diagonal pattern on the used ribbon. It can in fact be recreated by painstaking reconstruction, but nonetheless not readily readable as shown.

      • Roberto

        I saw that earlier and I humbly disagree. I have used that model typewriter and I am pretty confident that the letters are readable if you look at the tape outside of the cassette.

        Maybe others with experience with typewriters can chime in.

        • Largo

          Yes — we need someone with a 1976 IBM Selectric typewriter to verify this and provide all of us with photographic evidence, eh! Inquiring minds want to know.
          🙂

          • Roberto

            Jeez, now you have me doing research. There are two different models of IBM Selectrics in question here. The first was introduced in 1971 and was simply called the Selectric II. It used two different types of ribbon. Either a cloth reusable ribbon or a disposable film ribbon. You could read what was typed from holding the disposable film ribbon up to the light.

            The second model was introduced in 1973 and was called the Correcting Selectric II. It used a new ribbon cartridge system and attempted to plug the security risk of being able to easily determine what was typed by inspecting the used ribbon by offsetting the characters on the ribbon vertically and horizontally. As its name suggests, the Correcting model also had a spool of correction ribbon to “erase” typos.

            So I guess it comes down to whether Jerome used a Selectric II or a Correcting Selectric II.

            I just went back and rewatched the typewriter in the episode. Drumroll please …. Jerome had a Correcting Selectric II.

            Thus, the goof entry was correct and Columbo would not have been able to simply hold the ribbon up to the light and read what Jerome had typed.

            But I still like my version of the crime detection better, even if my version also suffers from those darned nerds at IBM correcting the security issue of its earlier disposable ribbons.

            P.S. I once had lunch with Tom Watson Jr. at IBM Headquarters in Armonk near the end of his life. It is impossible to exaggerate the reverence in which he was held at IBM. (Actually, I was one of several hundred people at the luncheon, but it still makes a good story.)

          • “Thus, the goof entry was correct and Columbo would not have been able to simply hold the ribbon up to the light and read what Jerome had typed.”

            Makes Columbo’s comment about Santini’s one mistake being that he didn’t look at the typewriter closely enough a little ironic!

          • Largo

            “A little ironic” ??? This factoid about the IBM typewriter changes everything! Sheesh — those lazy Columbo producers! 😉

          • saltyessentials

            Hah! Nice sleuthing, Roberto!

          • Robert J. Sawyer

            The part that wasn’t realistic was that the ribbon DOES NOT ADVANCE when the spacebar is hit. So instead of seeing “Here’s a clue to the murder,” Columbo should have seen “Here’sacluetothemurder.” But, of course, they wanted the TV audience to follow along easily.

          • I guess we give them a little leeway for dramatic effect!

    • “Iain (I think it was Iain) raises the point that Santini waited to the very last minute to murder Jerome so that he could find/destroy the incriminating letter. I honestly never thought of that and wonder if that was actually part of the backstory. It seemed like Jerome simply retrieved the letter from his wall safe behind one of the paintings in his office. I wouldn’t think it would be too difficult for Santini to break into the safe, but I understand that picking locks is different from cracking a safe. I wonder if Santini would have tried to open the safe after killing Jerome if the incriminating letter weren’t right on the desk. (Killing Jerome without retrieving the letter would be a second-best solution for Santini since, presumably, the police would have gone through Jerome’s safe looking for clues.)”

      Looking at this again, it’s clear at the start that Santini has tried to break in and find the letter himself, but failed. Jerome refers to it at the start of their first meeting.

      • Roberto

        I don’t quite follow what you are saying here. Every understands that Santini previously broke into Jerome’s office and could not find the old man’s letter. In fact, it is implied that that is what prompted Jerome to install the new pick-proof lock on his office door.

        I think it is also clear, as stated above, that killing Jerome without retrieving the incriminating letter would not have been ideal for Santini.

        Putting these two ideas together, I thought Iain was saying that Santini “bluffed” Jerome into bringing the letter out of hiding as he wrote the letter to the INS. If so, it is a beautiful “bluff”. So he could kill two birds, ahem, with one stone.

        Maybe I am reading too much into Iain’s comment. 🙂

        • Yes, that’s exactly what I was suggesting!

          Remarks above were intended to suggest he wouldn’t have tried to go through the safe because he either couldn’t, or didn’t know it was where the letter was, having tried before.

          • Roberto

            Very good thought Iain. You have enhanced my appreciation for this episode!

            (Of course, I will ignore the distinct possibility that Jerome made numerous copies of the incriminating letter and kept them in various places he had access to.)

  • Having listened to this week’s podcast upon waking, I have to say it’s a top drawer one: definitely in my top 10; in fact, maybe even my top 3. In fact, I think we should all compile our top 10 Columbo podcasts and compare notes. 😉

    Anyway, several comments which made me snigger (great word that, isn’t it, although I’ll bet it’s ‘snicker’ in North America?), including the conversation about the man in ‘The Meaning of Life’ who literally explodes in the restaurant. It was Mr. Creosote, for anyone who wants to investigate via YouTube, as this guy demonstrates one of the seven deadly sins i.e. gluttony, and literally gets his just desserts. An advance warning though: it’s not for the faint hearted, and you may never look at a wafer thin mint in the same way again.

    I also loved the way Iain got so hot under the collar about Columbo’s new jacket. Every time it was mentioned by Gerry it was like a red rag to a bull (with apologies to last week’s episode). Personally, I really enjoyed this side humour, especially the little joke about Columbo looking different and him quipping back that he had his hair cut.

    Shocked and dismayed (even though I’ve not seen it yet – although I did cop (sic) a snack preview of the 20 second summary at the beginning of the episode) to find that Pat McGoohan is in the director’s seat for next week. I only hope that I can put the obvious stigma to one side, although I’m already going in with lower expectations than normal.

    10/10 for the Jack Cassidy link. I’ve already watched the first couple of minutes and it looks good.

    So, in summary: a memorable episode and an equally memorable podcast. Well done!

    • Thanks Kieran, always nice to get good feedback! Glad you enjoyed it.

      • Largo

        Well, when “E! Mysteries & Scandals” gets something as elementary as this totally wrong (multiplying Cassidy’s appearances on Columbo times 2), everything else becomes highly suspect, eh.

        • Seems like a strange thing to just make up!

          • Largo

            E! = Exaggeration!
            When this outfit can’t even get these simple little details right, how can a viewer trust them with the major ones, eh? Notice in this piece how a lot of the “facts” are from second or third-hand sources and that Shirley Jones and all of the children are not interviewed. But that’s not too surprising since this is a rather trashy “infotainment” cable television series. But did Jack Cassidy have personal problems? Yes, he did have serious issues because Hollywood is definitely not a emotionally healthy place at all.

          • It’s always interesting to get another perspective. Sometimes part of the fun is working out the prejudices/agenda of the piece.

          • Largo

            Instead of writing out my usual quick reply post, I’ll let Mr. David Lo Pan speak for me here:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyQ2i98wl9w

  • Roberto

    After further review, I now believe Michael Payne (aka Jefferson) was the cop who talked to Columbo when he initially arrived at the Magic Club. You remember him as saying that he didn’t recognize Columbo since he looks different somehow.

    • Good work!

      • Roberto

        Thanks. I found Michael Payne in a few of his other works during the 1970s and this cop looks and sounds just like him. So I am going with that unless anybody else proves me wrong. 🙂

  • Mike B.

    Greetings from Wisconsin. I have just discovered the podcast and am thoroughly enjoying the discussions. Loved the side-story of Mike Lally living in the flophouse.

    • Roberto

      Welcome Mike B. I am originally from Burlington, Wisconsin.

      Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Columbo.

    • Thanks Mike, glad to have you on board!

      • Largo

        Irony, oh irony! In anticipation for next week’s thrill-packed episode of Columbo, “Last Salute To The Commodore,” we all should be saying, ‘Mike, so happy to have you onboard!’ 🙂

  • Roberto

    Speaking of not looking forward to next week’s episode (the Columbo episode, not the podcast), I think I may forgo my usual review of it in advance of Gerry and Iain’s podcast. I may wind up caving in at the last minute, but I won’t like it.

    How about if I just listen to sad songs (like Ernie Ford above) that are about the sea or dying or both? The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The Titanic: It was Sad when that Great Ship Went Down. Nearer My God To Thee. In My Time of Dying. Tears in Heaven. Candle in the Wind (both versions). Etc.

    How about if I just listen to an album of Danny Green’s Greatest Hits. Or maybe watching a screening of Patricia Mattick’s greatest scenes (no offense intended).

    And, replying to a post about Jack Cassidy above, stories about his eccentricities are legion. I guess he had his loony side which was actually played up on the He & She show in which he played the silly JetMan.

    • CarlosMu

      lol poor Patricia Mattick what did she do to deserve this.

    • Largo

      Roberto and Carlos —
      Now you’ve gone and done it! Poor Margaret Williams is just sitting on the stairs and sulking now because of these recent comments that you’ve both posted. 😉

  • Largo

    “How about if I just listen to sad songs (like Ernie Ford above) that are about the sea or dying or both? The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The Titanic: It was Sad when that Great Ship Went Down. Nearer My God To Thee. In My Time of Dying. Tears in Heaven. Candle in the Wind (both versions). Etc.”

    It’s funny that you happened to mention the Titanic just now, Roberto. Enter Swanny Swanson:

    • Roberto

      Oh noes, the horror. Remember to belay your cleat but avoid jibing your mizzen.

      Only one or two people emerge from next week’s episode unscathed. Therefore, with all due respect to the events of April 15, 1912, next week’s episode would benefit from a well-timed boat sinking.

      If George Kramer or Theodore Albinsky (not to mention Fred Wilson or his twin brother John) happen to be on board at the time, I am willing to accept those losses.

      • Largo

        Please forgive me for that particular reminder of “the horror” that is next week’s Columbo episode. Let’s not mention it again until Gerry and Iain’s podcast drops online next Thursday. And please forgive me for this rant concerning “Mac” —

        Dennis Dugan (Theodore Albinsky) should’ve have been a casualty years ago. By “casualty” I mean never being hired by anyone involved in show business — ever! Someone at NBC or at Universal Studios or both had a chubby for this dude or something because he kept turning up and ruining my shows. After appearing in this Columbo episode, he turned up on The Rockford Files and later on Hill Street Blues, which both aired on NBC. Dugan’s recent claims to “fame” are his abominable directorial efforts involving the equally despicable Adam Sandler. So, in short, I feel like punching this guy in the face!

        Please excuse this Largo Rant. We now return the Columbo Podcast Forum back to the regularly scheduled program: the Columbo episode “Now You See Him.”

        • Roberto

          Does that mean I cannot mention Captain Freedom, either the best or worst character ever on Hill Street Blues, depending upon your views of Dennis Dugan?

          I detested Captain Freedom (I won’t say I was pleased when he died since that would make me a bad man). And don’t even get me started talking about Richie Brockelman. Dear Lord.

          If Gerry or Iain is still hanging around this thread, and they haven’t recorded next week’s podcast yet, maybe they can make it a two-hour special since there is obviously enough to talk about given that we have already dipped our toes in the water discussing some of the episode’s “finer” points.

          • Largo

            Richie Brockelman, the private eye character that failed as a series (only six episodes) on NBC. But what does NBC and Universal do next? They try to force this Dennis Dugan / Brockelman character down our throats in three different The Rockford Files episodes!!! Get this twerp off of my TV and quit ruining my favorite shows!!!!! 🙁

            It is now four years later, and my favorite cop show of all time, Hill Street Blues, is suddenly contaminated by the Dugan Doofus as a nut job called “Captain Freedom.” It was so obvious from the second that this character was foisted onto us and Sgt. Belker that “Captain Freedom” would eat a bullet (which is terrible), but he would also be out of this series in short order. Good riddance Dugan Doofus!

            Sheesh! We’ll need a special series of podcasts just to air out all of our various grievances concerning not only Dugan Doofus, but “the horror” that is next week’s Columbo episode.

            Getting back to the Columbo episode at hand: how about that Cynthia Sikes as Della? Pretty smoking hot, huh? 🙂

          • Roberto

            At the risk of prolonging this already-too-long tangent (ah, who am I kidding, let’s prolong it some more), Hill Street Blues is my all-time favorite TV show, bar none.

            I am deeply ashamed to admit that in one of its later seasons, when Moonlighting (ABC) and Hill Street Blues (NBC) were both on at the same time, I chose to watch Moonlighting, switching back and forth during the commercials! I have felt bad about this for around 30 years now like I cheated on my wife (of course I was not married at the time).

            Anyway, we have expressed eerily similar opinions about old-time quality TV, such as Star Trek, Rockford Files, Hill Street Blues, and, of course, our favorite detective in a rumpled raincoat, Columbo.

            Sounds like we may be the same person from parallel universes. Like the two Kirks, the two Picards, the two Rikers, etc.

            P.S. Okay. Della was great looking. But why do you think Jesse Jerome was sweating so much when you know he had to have had the very best air conditioning system in Los Angeles? Was it the shrimp? Was it fear of Santini? (just kidding)

          • Largo

            Be rest assured, Roberto — I am not your doppelgänger. I just spent the last few hours watching some of my Hawaii Five-O (1968-1980) DVDs. I only have the first two seasons of Hill Street Blues on DVD, which were released several years back. Now Shout! Factory has the entire series in a DVD box set and I’m definitely going to have to pick this one up sometime, eh.

            That’s too bad that you chose Moonlighting over Hill Street Blues back in the day. I had my own Sony TV and a RCA top loading “Selectavision” VHS VCR back in 1979, so I could record any of my shows and other stuff for my family. It’s too bad that you didn’t have a VCR so you could watch all of your television favorites. Speaking of switching channels back and forth between commercials, my dad used to do this on his Sylvania TV console with the remote and this drove my mom batty. Then I bought my VCR and there was much rejoicing in the Largo household! 🙂

  • It just keeps happening!

    • Largo

      Indeed — and I believe I know the reason why it does, eh. One or both of you are supplementing your diet with the spice known as melange, aren’t you? There has to be a reason for your uncanny prescient abilities! 😉

  • Ian Baxter

    Thanks for sharing this, more entertaining than the episode itself!

    • Largo

      Indeed! I remember the Tennessee Ernie Ford Show airing in the middle of the afternoon during the years before I entered grade school. My mother would have this program on and when I heard ol’ Tennessee Ernie Ford singing, I knew it was close to the time for my favorite TV show to air: “The Adventures Of Superman!” 🙂

  • Ian Baxter

    Just some quick thoughts, as so much has been well said already…. A fun episode with many memorable moments, and entertaining to read the comments here. The best moment for me was the exchange of knowing looks and interaction between Columbo and Santini over the handcuffs during the show. Unlike Iain I enjoyed the fun with the jacket and didn’t think it was overplayed. Thanks again, off to persuade all friends, neighbours, strangers, residents at the local care home, local cricket club, relatives and Sunday night congregation to give 5 stars!! 🙂

    • I have to say, I doubt little things like the coat would bother me as much if I were just watching for enjoyment and not taking notes, etc.

      Appreciate the legwork. Need someone to go round Apple stores voting as well!

      • saltyessentials

        My wife just added a 5 star rating to iTunes today. So there ya go.

  • saltyessentials

    Hah! Nothing to do with this week’s episode, but the missus and I were just talking about running errands today and she mentioned she’d like to stop by Stein Mart (a local clothing store). I responded with “yeah, I don’t mind stopping by Steinmetz with you.” She gave me a look and said “Stein-what”?!

    Sorry, Hun. I was just thinking I need to hop on the web and comment on the latest Columbo episode….

    Which I will do AFTER we get back from Steinmetz, er, Stein Mart!

  • saltyessentials

    Okay. Lots of little thoughts popping around in my head:

    Wow. I didn’t even recognize Cynthia Sikes in her show note link. She’s more beautiful than ever.

    And, hey! Bob Dishy’s wife was Judy Graubart, who played Jennifer of the Jungle on The Electric Company. She was one of my (very young) boyhood crushes.

    Great to see Nehemiah Persoff on Memory Alpha. I’d never have recognized him in that getup.

    You know, I’ve never made a Columbo Top 10. I tend to just enjoy them as they come and notice I enjoy some more than others. And when this one finished I thought, now that is one of my favorite episodes. So if I ever DO make a top 10 list, it’ll be in there somewhere. Loved all the Columbo moments in it.

    I tend to favor the shows that give me lots of little items to show me who Columbo is as a person, vs. just as a cop. Loved the raincoat business! Only scene that didn’t quite work for me there was Wilson showing up at the locksmith. But still fun.

    And I really like Wilson’s character. It would’ve been a bit tiresome to see him every episode, but I would have loved to see him once per season. Only having him twice the whole series wasn’t enough for me.

    No call out for Thayer David in this episode? I know him from Dark Shadows. He does have a kind of creepy persona in some of his performances, but I loved him as Mathew Morgan on DS.

    • Ian Baxter

      Thanks for pointing out Thayer David, his Columbo magic shop scene is ‘great’, this is a snippet from Wikipedia…

      “A resident of Manhattan, Thayer David collected walking sticks, 18th-century European landscape paintings and Victorian furniture. “He was the most widely educated and best-read actor I’ve ever encountered,” said Frank D. Gilroy, who wrote and directed the 1977 TV movie Nero Wolfe. His fellow cast members on Dark Shadows remembered him as a “walking encyclopedia” around the studio.”

      • saltyessentials

        Nice add, Ian. I thought he played Mathew Morgan, an uneducated and somewhat mentally limited man, brilliantly in Dark Shadows. He actually played a total of 10 different characters over the course of that show, from an indentured servant in the 1700s to a modern scholar. He did a lot of stage work as well, but here are a few of his other film credits:

        Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)
        The Three Musketeers (1960)
        Save the Tiger (1973)
        The Eiger Sanction (1975)
        Rocky (1976)
        Roots (1977)

        He died in 1978 from a heart attack at age 51.

        • Roberto

          If you look up “creepy” in the dictionary, you will be directed to Thayer David’s role as Dragon in The Eiger Sanction.

          Regarding Dark Shadows, I never watched it although my brothers sometimes had it on after school. The only thing I remember is a scene when one character (Barnabas?) turns his face slowly towards the camera and we see that he has aged 1000 years or so. Scared the bejeesus out of me!

    • CarlosMu

      I see that Cynthia Sikes was once involved with Ted Kennedy. I’m sure Santini would disapprove greatly. Or actually I’m not so sure, maybe he’d enjoy a couple of jars with old Ted.

  • saltyessentials

    I’m looking forward to next week’s episode. I love watching Columbo be so un-Columbo-like. It looks like Falk was on the verge of cracking up the whole time. Looked like he was having fun.

  • I wonder whether anyone’s seen this:

    https://columbophile.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/whats-your-ultimate-favourite-columbo-episode/

    Interesting how Murder By The Book is heading the list with Any Old Port in second place…

    • Largo

      But that’s perfectly understandable. What isn’t, however, is the shocking fact that “A Turd In Black” is in sixth place!?! Inconceivable!!!! 😉

  • Francisco Javier Gil Vidal

    Hello dear friends, I send you my warmest Greetings from Argentina. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Columbo fan and find it really enjoyable to share my views with other “Columbo-ists” from all around the world.
    While acknowledging that “Now you see it” is top notch Columbo, I’m afraid the cold-blooded, not easily overwhelmed Müller-Santini wouldn’t have too tough a time getting off the hook: for starters, Wilson’s words written on the tape could easily endorse the claim that the evidence had been tampered with in order to frame Santini. And, most crucially, the incriminating paragraph states: “Please find enclosed proof that Santini is in fact former SS officer Stephan Müller…..” In and of itself the letter (even if Columbo could have proven it was not a fake) proves nothing, and the actual documentary evidence was burnt out by Müller together with the letter immediately after the crime. I’m quite sure a good lawyer would have no trouble saving Müller’s skin! What do you think of it, friends?
    Francisco Javier Gil Vidal. Buenos Aires, Argentina.

    • Welcome, Francisco! I think that’s a good piece of thinking and you could well be right!

  • Nelson Heyward

    Just found this I mocked up years back

  • Abigail

    I bloody love this episode. The interaction with Wilson is great, the denouement is outstanding, and I even like the coat tomfoolery (although I agree that it might have been better off in a different episode). The wink in the handcuffs scene is just brilliant. Just so many wonderful Columbo moments from start to finish.