Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Columbo Blog2: Now You See Him
What's the best course of action if you're a Nazi war criminal seeking refuge from justice in the USA (if you don't have the qualifications to work for NASA that is)? If you're Stefan Muller the answer's pretty simple: cultivate a military haircut and moustache, strut around wearing a Tyrolean hat and go in for a career in showbusiness. But change your name to 'The Great Santini' to really throw them.
This seems to have worked for Muller, alias Santini the magician(Jack Cassidy in brilliant form) at the opening of this episode. However, he reckoned without sweaty, moneygrubbing git Mr Jerome, who blackmails him. Using the alibi of being trapped in a metal box, Santini throws the forces of law and order and murders Jerome. But Columbo has a few questions to ask.
This episode is one of the best, and by best I mean best Columbo. Sure, it's a bit camp, focmulaic and a lot of the magical tricks are pretty obvious. But as is often the case, the killer is humanised and the murder victim is an unsympathetic loser. Columbo fans could ask for nothing more.
And 'Now You See Him' is very good Columbo. The diminutive detective gets lots of cleverly worded insinuations 'I knew you could do it'/ 'no, we don't have a motive for you') and the ending is very cleverly staged. Columbo becomes certain of who the criminal is due to Santini's own ego (he can't resist demonstrating his genius for picking locks).
I'd give this a 10 on the Columbometre.