Season 5 Episode 3

Identity Crisis

Aired Unknown Nov 02, 1975 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
46 votes

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Episode Summary

Identity Crisis
A spy is killed on a lonely beach by his contact but the killer has been photographed beforehand walking with the victim.

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  • This is one of the episodes

    there Columbo seems to admire the killer. Every time, in those episodes, I got the feeling that C are gonna let the killer go because of admiration of them. Really tasteless IMO that he has that positive feelings about many killers! And then they both repeated the same word just before the ending, didn't make any sense to me!
  • Watch Closely!

    This is one of several "Columbo" episodes in which Patrick McGoohan appeared. I believe he also directed this one, along with others. All that he had a hand in are full of references to his lifelong obsession, "The Prisoner". If you're familiar with the 1967 ITC series, watch these episodes closely. You will most likely find some pleasant surprises.
  • McGoohan the great!

    WONDERFUL. starring the great Patrick McGoohan. (I know him best as the villain in "Silver Streak" and the warden in "Escape from Alcatraz", with crucial roles in "Scanners" and "Braveheart) - but didn't know he was so intricately involved with "Columbo" thru most of it's run. - - Besides being a long-time friend of Peter Falk, he directed five Columbo episodes (including three of the four in which he played the murderer), and wrote and produced two (including one of these). He received two Emmy Awards for his work on Columbo. He passed away in 2009 at 81.

    (I wonder why Columbo didn't just play the tape of Brenners speech for Melville, who would have easily identified the voice as that of the fictional "Stienmetz" (sic) aka Brenner).moreless
  • McGoohan is back!

    After his first tangle with the Lieutenant in Season 4, Patrick McGoohan returns to "Columbo" as a CIA agent who must kill a colleague to protect his interests.

    McGoohan and Falk have wonderful chemistry, and it is said that their rapport grew out of their mutual desire for perfection on the set. McGoohan is a very different character from his military academy commandant in "By Dawn's Early Light;" here, Bremmer is liberal, cosmopolitan, aloof...deceptively so. But once again, he looks down his nose at Columbo, viewing him more as a pest than an actual threat.

    Leslie Nielsen also returns, this time as a victim. It's always funny to see him playing a "straight" serious role after seeing him in "The Naked Gun" and "Airplane."

    It's a Columbo episode with a more friendly adversary. There's never any outright hostility between the two men, and there's quiet acknowledgement of Columbo's prowess by McGoohan at the close of the show.moreless
  • Spoilers

    This episode has all the trademarks: Guest appearances by Hollywood notables; memorable one-line throwaway gags; a baffling mystery; familiar L.A. locations; problems with the car (\"there\'s only three like this in the country\" he says; and Columbo\'s tying things together by staying on that one thing that doesn\'t make sense.

    Guest was Leslie Nielsen, looking younger and much more serious than in the other roles I\'ve seen him in.

    Can we catalog the great one-liners in these 68 movies? Here are two from this episode: Columbo: \"Do you have any wine?\" McGoohan: \"I have a whole cellar full.\" Columbo (waving his hand) \"Oh, I\'ll just have a glass.\" Another classic: McGoohan: \"Do you like music?\" Columbo: \"Oh, I hear it all the time.\"

Peter Falk

Peter Falk

Lieutenant Columbo (no first name)

Patrick McGoohan

Patrick McGoohan

Nelson Brenner

Guest Star

Leslie Nielsen

Leslie Nielsen

Geronimo/A.J. Henderson

Guest Star

Val Avery

Val Avery


Guest Star

Bruce Kirby

Bruce Kirby

George Kramer

Recurring Role

Vito Scotti

Vito Scotti

Salvatore Defonte

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • Nelson Brenner's alter-ego "Steinmetz", borrows both name and appearance from the German-American electrical engineer Charles Proteus Steinmetz (1865-1923). Steinmetz had the reputation of being something of a "mad scientist", although in reality, contributed a great deal to the practical use of electricity.

  • QUOTES (4)

    • Columbo: What do you have to do to win one of those?
      Shooting Gallery Operator: Hit the ducks ten in a row.
      Columbo: My wife would go for one of those.
      Shooting Gallery Operator: No way, Lieutenant! You're a pro...
      Columbo: Ah, forget about it. If I'm standing on the dock I couldn't hit the water.

    • Nelson Brenner: Lieutenant. I think I should warn you that I'm not an unworldly man. I have powerful important friends, even in the police department. I respectfully request that you do not harass me.

      Columbo: Why sir, I would NEVER do that.

    • Columbo: Just between us, sir...

      Brenner: Um-uh.

      Columbo: Somebody's following me.

      Brenner: Now who would be following a cop?

      Columbo: That's what I'm trying to figure out. Can't be the collection company. The car's paid for.

    • Brenner: What would you like in the way of libation?

      Columbo: Oh, nothing when I'm on duty.

      Brenner: But you're finished for the day, aren't you?

      Columbo: Well, nearly, sir. Do you have any wine?

      Brenner: A cellar full

      Columbo: Just a glass.

      Brenner: What kind would you like?

      Columbo: Oooh, red.

  • NOTES (5)

    • This is the second of two appearances on Columbo by actor Leslie Nielsen. His first appearance was in Season One's "Lady In Waiting".

    • This is the first of five episodes of the series directed by Patrick McGoohan.

    • Actor Vito Scotti appears _six_ times in Columbo series: ep. 19 "Any Old Port in a Storm" (Maitre d'), ep. 20 "Candidate for Crime" (Mr. Chadwick, a taylor), ep. 24 "Swan Song" (Mr. Grindell); ep. 27 "Negative Reaction" (Thomas Dolan, a drunk), ep. 34 "Identity Crisis" (Salvatore Defonte), and ep. 50 "Murder, a Self Portrait" (Vito).

    • When the "Director" Phil Corrigan flashes his badge it clearly states that he is Phil Corrigan, Agent X-9, which of course is the comics Agent of the 1930's (and on).
      /Tony Fischier

    • Throughout this episode, Patrick McGoohan (Nelson Brenner) uses the phrase "be seeing you" whenever he leaves a room. This was the standard phrase used by everyone in The Village in McGoohan's cult classic series The Prisoner. During one scene, he wears an outfit almost identical to the standard costume he wore in the earlier series.