Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Movies About Magicians And Magic


Recommended Posts

I just watched The Incedible Burt Wonderstone yesterday. It was formuliac but very enjoyable. This leads me to this question. Can anyone out there think any older, (Pre 1980) movies about magicians or magic in general ? I'll start with Houdini with Tony Curtis.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, it's certainly not a movie about magic, but the first image that sprang to my mind was Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave stumbling upon Signor Doppo's magical paraphernalia during their search for the poor missing May Whitty in The Lady Vanishes. It's my favorite British Hitchcock, due in no small part to the skillful weaving in of comic sequences like this. And I *love* the furry bystanders. :x




Janet Gaynor takes a job as assistant to egomaniacal magician Alan Mowbray in Ladies in Love:




But, of course, the ultimate in performers of the mystifying and magnificent hails neither from the classic era nor even movies. It's all about GOB Bluth of Arrested Development:




And remember - "(it's an) *illusion* . . . a trick is something a **** does for money . . . or cocaine!" :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Are you talking about biopics? I can also only think of *Houdini* .



But, if you're meaning magic in general, then there's the dark *Magic* , with Anthony Hopkins and Ann-Margaret.






Link to comment
Share on other sites

I thought about mentiong *Magic,* but I thought it was more a film about ventriliquism than actual magic. maybe your right.


There is 1979 film called *The Magician Of Lublin* with Alan Arkin, (who was in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.) I read the Isaac Bashevis Singer book but haven't seen the movie.


Edited by: sfpcc1 on Jul 9, 2013 2:58 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

* *THE FILMS OF GEORGE MELIES* are all about magic, him being a magician, andmany of the short films are just him doing magic tricks, so there you go


* In one of my all time favorites *LILI*, Leslie Caron falls in love with a beautiful magician, Marcus the Magnificent, and you get to see some rmagic tricks with him and Zsa Zsa Gabor (though I guess most circus movies will have some kind of magic)


* And don't forget a childhood favorite *BEDKNOBS AND BROOKSTICKS* in which David Tomlinson plays a really bad magician who tries to get good witch Angela Lansbury to use her actual magical talent to travel around doing magic shows with him


Link to comment
Share on other sites

sfpcc, I assumed from your original post and from the example you gave that you were thinking of magicians in terms of people who perform "magic" for an audience, as opposed to those who (in movies) effect actual magic - as in no logical explanation for what they do, you know, spells, flying, granting wishes, etc.

I suppose the latter type of magician could be called "wizard"; for example, Gandalf in "Lord of the Rings". Or for that matter, Harry Potter and his pals. Wand waving, magic words, etc. I love that kind of stuff -maybe because as a child I loved what I called "magic" books, and read them voraciously.


But I digress. As I said, I imagine you are referring to the type of magician who is human and who amazes with carefully practised tricks. I hope that's what you meant, anyway, because I consider the two types of "magicians" I described above as entirely different from one another, deserving two entirely different threads.


So, with regard to the type of magician in *The Incredible Burt Wonderstone*: I can think of three post-1980 films, and there are doubtless many more.



In 1989, an unusual project between three respected filmmakers was released.

It was called *New York Stories*, and it featured three different "filmettes", by three different directors: Martine Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and Woody Allen. It is Allen's contribution that featured a magician (played by Allen, no surprise there), and it was called "Oedipus Wrecks". Actually, it combines the "trick of the eye" type magic with real magic. Pretty off-beat, but interesting if you're a Woody Allen fan.



The other two movies I'm thinking of were both released, oddly enough, the same year, 2006.

*The Illusionist*, starring Edward Norton and Paul Giametti (two very fine 21st century actors), and *The Prestige*, with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. Funny how they both came out the same year.

Come to think of it, both these films also combine the "sleight of hand", no actual "magic" involved type of magician with actual strange, possibly magical events.

If you're interested in this subject, I recommend all three. Although the two 2006 films both have rather unsatisfactory endings, but perhaps that's in accordance with "the unexplained".



Edit: ps...I understand *Burt Wonderstone* is a comedy. The Woody Allen segment in *New York Stories* is also played for laughs ( Allen's specialty), but *The Illustionist* and *The Prestige* are both pretty serious.



Edited by: misswonderly on Jul 9, 2013 6:38 PM


Edited by: misswonderly on Jul 9, 2013 7:44 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Misswonderly, you were right. I was thinking of the Abracadra kind of magic not the Harry Potter type.



I've seen New York Stories, The Illusionist, and The Prestige. The Scorsese segment was the best. Heather McComb, who played the rich little Eloise type girl in the Francis Ford Coppola segment, was briefly married to James Van Der Beek, (Dawson's Creek.) I've seen a couple of horrible things happen to her in a few TV shows, (I have to go have IMDB to remember what.)



Slight spoiler alert, Jim Carrey does something really funny and terrible to himself at the end of the film. The late James Gandolfini is also very good in it.









Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not a film about magic, but Columbia's COUNTER ATTACK (1945) with Paul Muni features a Nazi officer who is a magician. He is played by Phil Van Zandt, a Dutch immigrant who worked as a magician in vaudeville before landing roles on Broadway. Van Zandt was a pal of Orson Welles and played the newsreel producer Rawlston at the beginning of CITIZEN KANE. He played a magician in 2 other Columbia films as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jack Palance's character in *The Silver Chalice* is a sort of magician.


Palance's illusions in the movie were advised by [John Calvert|http://justacineast.blogspot.com/2012/04/john-calvert.html], who had played the Falcon in a couple of films in that series and brought magic to the Falcon's persona. There's a very interesting documentary about Calvert called *John Calvert: His Magic and Adventures*, about his career which lasted well into his 90s. (He's still alive, and will turn 102 next month.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites



A-Haunting We Will Go (1942 film)




Death Defying Acts




The Escape Artist

Eternally Yours (film)




FairyTale: A True Story




The Geisha Boy

The Great Buck Howard

The Great Houdini (film)

The Great Magician





Houdini (film)



H cont.


Hugo (film)




The Illusionist (1983 film)

The Illusionist (2006 film)

The Illusionist (2010 film)

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone




Lord of Illusions




The Mad Magician

Magic (1978 film)

Magic Man (film)

The Magician (1958 film)

The Magician (2006 film)



M cont.


Magicians (film)




Nightmare Alley (film)

Now You See It...

Now You See Me (film)




Oz the Great and Powerful




Penn & Teller Get Killed

The Prestige (film)

Presto (film)




Scoop (2006 film)




The Wizard of Gore

The Wizard of Gore (2007 film)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm really into illusionists and love the variety of depictions of the genre. (I love Penn & Teller despite Penn's unfunny gutter language)


Not traditional "trick" magic, but THE CRYSTAL BALL with Paulette Goddard, WHEN WERE YOU BORN with Anna May Wong and THE CLAIRVOYANT with Claude Rains are favorites.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is a modern movie but I am captivated by: *Formula of Love* (1984).


It is a fictional account of antics of Count Alessandro di Cagliostro who had a remarkable life as illusionist, conjurer and alchemist. He was also known to be a swindler, thief and forger.


*Formula of Love* (1984) is available on YouTube at:


I have read that the scene from 5:15 to 9:45 is a reasonably accurate reconstruction of one of his performances. English subtitles are available using the Closed Captioning option.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can think of only one additional film that deals with magic: *The Illusionist* (2010), which is an animated film about a magician and based on an idea/script by Jacques Tati. Those films and titles that come to mind include magic as an incidental plot device or could better be described as psychological or supernatural thrillers: *Fairy Tale: A True Story* (1997), which features Houdini as a character; *Magic* (1978), haven’t seen this film but I remember Anthony Hopkins plays a magician; *Mesmer* (1994), a mix of magic, medicine and "sleight-of-hand"; *Rough Magic* (1995), which attempts a bit of neo-noir with Bridget Fonda as a magician’s assistant. Ingmar Bergman’s *The Magician* (1958) has been mentioned already, but the film is more about the magic of illusion, an idea which seems to have fascinated the director. Bergman’s autobiography was titled *The Magic Lantern*, and this early form of *moving pictures* appears in both *The Magician* and *Fanny and Alexander* (perhaps other films?). If you were interested in films with *clairvoyants*, *mind readers* or other *supernatural skills*, the list of films might be pretty impressive.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

>Jack Palance's character in The Silver Chalice is a sort of magician.


I know after he once placed ads in the newspapers about this film, Paul Newman had hopes that this film would "magically disappear" anyway. ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

moviemadness's listing kinda spoils things, but I do know of a few that aren't on there.


While Oz the Great and Powerful is on there, I haven't seen anyone mention The Wizard of Oz.


And Harry Houdini starred in a few silent films and movie serials. Besides the Curtis film, there was also a TV-movie with Paul Michael Glaser as Houdini.


Bill Bixby starred in a too-short TV series, The Magician.


Mandrake the Magician was a movie serial.


Magician David Copperfield co-starred as a magician in the horror film, Terror Train.


One of the 7 Faces of Dr. Lao was Merlin the Magician.


And Merlin can be seen in Camelot and other films about King Arthur.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


© 2023 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
  • Create New...