Columbo (1971–2003)
19 user 5 critic

Columbo Goes to the Guillotine 

An egocentric psychic murders his old mentor, a magician charged to expose him as fraud, by beheading him while he's rehearsing his guillotine trick.


Leo Penn


Richard Levinson (created by), William Link (created by) | 1 more credit »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Falk ... Columbo
Anthony Andrews ... Elliott Blake
Karen Austin ... Dr. Paula Hall
James Greene ... Bert Spindler
Alan Fudge ... Mr. Harrow
Dana Andersen Dana Andersen ... Dori
Robert Costanzo ... Sgt. Russo
Anthony Zerbe ... Max Dyson
Michael Bacall ... Tommy
Charles Howerton ... Colonel Eckherdt
Milt Kogan ... Medical Examiner
Tony Amendola ... Clergyman
Rob Garrison ... Young Man
Frank Simons ... Polygraph Operator
Lenny Hicks Lenny Hicks ... Eddie


Famous (and fraudulent) psychic Elliot Blake uses his old mentalist skills to live a lavish lifestyle at the expense of a psychic research institute and hopefully, the US Government. What seems at first like a threat, a test devised by a well-known magician and debunker of psychics, turns out to be his chance for revenge against his former mentor. What he can't foresee is a police lieutenant who knows all the tricks. Written by Mark Cabot Robinson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

6 February 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Columbo Vai para a Guilhotina See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


First new episode of Columbo in a decade. Peter Falk was 61 when he returned to the role. See more »


When Columbo is called to a bar in the beginning, the police officer says to Columbo that the manager won't speak to anyone but homicide. No reason is given for this and the reason for making the call was blood coming from the ceiling. There is really no reason to not just report this directly to the police who will report this to homicide. His secrecy was never questioned and makes no sense. See more »


Max Dyson: What are you going to do about the test, Elliott?
Elliott Blake: I'm going to try and fool you, Max. Unless you back off.
Max Dyson: I can't do that. You can.
Elliott Blake: No, no, no. Gone too far now.
Max Dyson: For both of us. You better be good, kid.
Elliott Blake: Oh, I am, Max. I'm very good.
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Referenced in Endeavour: Harvest (2017) See more »

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User Reviews

a winning newer Columbo
23 December 2005 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

When Columbo returned to television in the late '80s, the integrity of the original series was usually in place. The qualities that made Columbo tops were never more apparent than in "Columbo Goes to the Guillotine," with guest stars Anthony Andrews, Anthony Zerbe, and Karen Austin. Andrews plays a psychic being wooed by a government organization for his gifts, but of course, they want to see proof. He is connected with a psychic institute run by beautiful Karen Austin, who not only wants the credibility a win like this could give her institute, but Andrews himself. She is running tests and helping him cheat.

Enter Zerbe, a magician who makes his living debunking psychics. He is brought in by the government to administer special tests to Andrews. Turns out, he and Andrews knew each other once, long ago, in a third world prison, and when Zerbe saw his chance to get out, he did, leaving Andrews behind. There is a hint here of more than just a prison friendship - in the hands of two excellent actors like Zerbe and Andrews, they have etched these characters and their relationship with a lot of layers. Andrews plays the card of their old friendship to get Zerbe to give him elaborate tests that are carried out by trickery, and then sanction him as real to the government. This accomplished, Andrews plays the revenge card for what Zerbe did by abandoning him years ago and, in a remarkable scene, gets rid of him. It's brilliantly done as the murder is never shown, but it makes you sick anyway.

It's up to Columbo to debunk the psychic and reveal him for what he really is, a cold-blooded killer. Watch Columbo figure out the tests, with the help of a boy who is a magic aficionado, and be prepared to be caught up in the scenario and feel like you've just seen a pretty great magic show. One of the truly great Columbos.

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