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Magic Moments


CaveGirl
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Whenever there is a magician in a film, or the movie has magic as a side or main topic, I watch.

 

One of my favorite films with this theme as a sideline, is "Judex" from the early 1960's.

 

Directed by Georges Franju, it stars Edith Scob from his immortal classic, "Les Jeux Sans Visage" but also is aided by the expert work of real life magician, Channing ****.

 

Name your fave film that has magic moments, but it does not have to have a theme song as sung by Dean Martin, if you wondered.
 

The four stars represent the name: P o l l o c k.
 

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Whenever there is a magician in a film, or the movie has magic as a side or main topic, I watch.

 

One of my favorite films with this theme as a sideline, is "Judex" from the early 1960's.

 

Directed by Georges Franju, it stars Edith Scob from his immortal classic, "Les Jeux Sans Visage" but also is aided by the expert work of real life magician, Channing ****.

 

Name your fave film that has magic moments, but it does not have to have a theme song as sung by Dean Martin, if you wondered.

 

The four stars represent the name: P o l l o c k.

 

 

Hmmmmm... Sydney Pollack. Why is his name allowed? It's actually closer to the word that so irritated Stanley Kowalski (presumably the cause of all this nonsense).

 

Anyway, Channing **** guest stars in this episode of Daniel Boone:

https://youtu.be/c_JFK-VXNsw

 

About 20 years ago A&E aired a documentary called The Story of Magic, which I found quite interesting. The main thing I recall from it is that a certain stage illusion was introduced in the 1920s and took the business by storm. Indeed for decades thereafter comedians would frequently refer to "sawing a lady in half".

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There is a new television series that is being planned. I cannot remember if it is a Canadian production or an American production.  It is called Houndini and Doyle or Doyle and Houndini.

 

 

 edit:

 

As Lawrence pointed out, my mind was obviously on MeTV when I was typing this.

 

Svengolie is WRONG

 

Svengalie is the John Barrymore movie.

 

:)

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There is a new television series that is being planned. I cannot remember if it is a Canadian production or an American production.  It is called Houndini and Doyle or Doyle and Houndini.

 

 

Svengolie is a powerful movie starring John Barrymore.

 

LOL at the second part...that's Svengali....much different from our friend Svengoolie!

 

The Houdini and Doyle show started Monday night on Fox. I didn't watch it, so I can't comment on quality, although I'm not a fan of the guy playing Houdini, so that's kind of a deal breaker.

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CaveGirl--You didn't specify real or as a con game--so I'm including both:

 

"The Thirty-Nine Steps" (1935)--Mr. Memory

 

 "I Married a Witch" (1942).

 

"Dead of Night" (1945).

 

"The Red Shoes" (1948)--The ballets' plot qualifies.

 

"Bell, Book, and Candle" (1958)

 

"Family Plot" (1976)--Hitchcocks' last film includes multiple con games--including seances.

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There is a, perhaps not well-organized, school of film scholarship regarding the notion of early cinema as a period of “trick films” (Méliès, Houdini) morphing from “stage bound” recreations of magic acts to cinematic trickery, which is now the purview of special effects wizards. Modern audiences can be taken only so far into “the magic of the movies” and the world of the magician due to an (lifelong) awareness of the nature of trick photography. Okay, having dispensed with the scholarship, magicians in films don’t require a great deal of suspension of disbelief to be great fun to watch. I think the notion of magic in/on film works best when the emphasis is placed on a magical character’s deception rather than any gift for illusion.

 

Rex Ingram’s The Magician (1926), based on a novel by Somerset Maughman with a character (allegedly) based on Aleister Crowley, is less about magic and more about the occult. The story is a bit uneven, but still fun to watch, and easily provides inspiration for later horror films (the tower sequence reminds me of a similar sequence in Frankenstein).

 

There is Chandu The Magician (1932) with Bela Lugosi, need I say more, and Ingmar Bergman’s The Magician (1958), which is (perhaps) a look at faith versus skepticism, reason versus romance, with Bergman’s beloved magic lantern.

 

The carnival sideshow is redolent with an atmosphere of false magic (can an atmosphere be redolent?), which is an integral part of the world of conmen and tricksters: Tod Browning’s The Show (1927) and Nightmare Alley (1946) both explore and exploit this connection.

 

Two of my favorite films in this sub genre(?) are Werner Nekes’s Media Magica (1985), which is less about magic and more about the magical quality of film to invoke childlike wonder, and Mesmer (1994), which is a confection of absurdist humor with Allan Rickman, as the title character, doing what he did best: convincing everyone that his seductive charm is pure magic.

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Two on a Guillotine (1965) is probably my fave magic film, although I am quite partial to Jack Cassidy in the Columbo episode where he plays a magician.

That Columbo episode is fantastic.  Jack Cassidy made several appearances on Columbo.

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Hmmmmm... Sydney Pollack. Why is his name allowed? It's actually closer to the word that so irritated Stanley Kowalski (presumably the cause of all this nonsense).

 

Anyway, Channing **** guest stars in this episode of Daniel Boone:

https://youtu.be/c_JFK-VXNsw

 

About 20 years ago A&E aired a documentary called The Story of Magic, which I found quite interesting. The main thing I recall from it is that a certain stage illusion was introduced in the 1920s and took the business by storm. Indeed for decades thereafter comedians would frequently refer to "sawing a lady in half".

Thanks, RK for the Daniel Boone info!

 

Yes, that show on Magic was so interesting and informative. They had scads of great and ancient film clips. Too bad they did not have the bullet catch one that killed Chung Sing Lo, or whatever his name was. Not that he was Asian anyway!

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The Prestige and The Illusionist, both released in 2006, were good magician-themed films.

Get this, both of those films were playing at the multiplex when I went with my friend, Princess Charlotte to see one of them. She is a die-hard magic fan and used to perform in night clubs.

 

We get out of "The Prestige" film and she says "Oh look, "The Illusionist" is on in ten minutes, Let's go see it."

 

I was a bit not in the mood, till she said "I'm treating!"

 

Okay, so we saw both films in the same day and they were both good but my eyes were a bit tired I must say. Which is why to this day I get elements of both of them confused with the other film. Which one had the Tesla bit in it?

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CaveGirl--You didn't specify real or as a con game--so I'm including both:

 

"The Thirty-Nine Steps" (1935)--Mr. Memory

 

 "I Married a Witch" (1942).

 

"Dead of Night" (1945).

 

"The Red Shoes" (1948)--The ballets' plot qualifies.

 

"Bell, Book, and Candle" (1958)

 

"Family Plot" (1976)--Hitchcocks' last film includes multiple con games--including seances.

All great choices, FL!

 

Oooh, seances! Now there's a film theme that would always draw me in. I like the one in "Ministry of Fear".

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There is a, perhaps not well-organized, school of film scholarship regarding the notion of early cinema as a period of “trick films” (Méliès, Houdini) morphing from “stage bound” recreations of magic acts to cinematic trickery, which is now the purview of special effects wizards. Modern audiences can be taken only so far into “the magic of the movies” and the world of the magician due to an (lifelong) awareness of the nature of trick photography. Okay, having dispensed with the scholarship, magicians in films don’t require a great deal of suspension of disbelief to be great fun to watch. I think the notion of magic in/on film works best when the emphasis is placed on a magical character’s deception rather than any gift for illusion.

 

Rex Ingram’s The Magician (1926), based on a novel by Somerset Maughman with a character (allegedly) based on Aleister Crowley, is less about magic and more about the occult. The story is a bit uneven, but still fun to watch, and easily provides inspiration for later horror films (the tower sequence reminds me of a similar sequence in Frankenstein).

 

There is Chandu The Magician (1932) with Bela Lugosi, need I say more, and Ingmar Bergman’s The Magician (1958), which is (perhaps) a look at faith versus skepticism, reason versus romance, with Bergman’s beloved magic lantern.

 

The carnival sideshow is redolent with an atmosphere of false magic (can an atmosphere be redolent?), which is an integral part of the world of conmen and tricksters: Tod Browning’s The Show (1927) and Nightmare Alley (1946) both explore and exploit this connection.

 

Two of my favorite films in this sub genre(?) are Werner Nekes’s Media Magica (1985), which is less about magic and more about the magical quality of film to invoke childlike wonder, and Mesmer (1994), which is a confection of absurdist humor with Allan Rickman, as the title character, doing what he did best: convincing everyone that his seductive charm is pure magic.

Wonderful entries, WG!

 

Your take on magicians as early influences  on cinema is apt, and please share more film scholarship with us!

 

I've not seen Werner Nekes’s Media Magica (1985)  that you mention but I shall look for it, WhistlingGypsy so thanks for your erudition!

 

Even shadow puppets on a screen have been thought to be precursors of film, and since Melies later occupied the original Houdin studio in Paris, it is clear that both regimens have similar antecedents. Now that is Robert Houdin, not Harry Houdini who came later for those not so much into stage magicians.

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More:

 

"The Great Gabbo" (1929).

 

"The Pirate" (1948)--"Mesmerism" true and faked.

 

"Kismet" (1955)--Are Howard Keel's acts of magic real?  Dolores Grays' "Bored" Viziers' Wife certainly tries to make the Vizier think so.

TGG with my fave, Stroheim!

 

Good choices.

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Okay, so we saw both films in the same day and they were both good but my eyes were a bit tired I must say. Which is why to this day I get elements of both of them confused with the other film. Which one had the Tesla bit in it?

 

The Prestige had David Bowie as Tesla.

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (1961)

 

Hugo, a mentally disabled young man, joins a traveling carnival to work for Sadini the Magician. But Sadini's unfaithful wife plans to murder the magician and frame Hugo for the crime.

 

This episode never aired on the network, as the sponsor (Revlon) deemed the climax "too gruesome". Written by Robert Bloch (Psycho). Starring Brandon de Wilde, Diana Dors, the underappreciated David J. Stewart (probably best remembered as Lepke in Murder Inc) as Sadini, and in a rare Hollywood appearance, Broadway star Larry Kert (the original Tony in West Side Story).

 

Watch here (don't worry -- it's public domain):

https://youtu.be/uhCE-wQXZds

 

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Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (1961)

 

Hugo, a mentally disabled young man, joins a traveling carnival to work for Sadini the Magician. But Sadini's unfaithful wife plans to murder the magician and frame Hugo for the crime.

 

This episode never aired on the network, as the sponsor (Revlon) deemed the climax "too gruesome". Written by Robert Bloch (Psycho). Starring Brandon de Wilde, Diana Dors, the underappreciated David J. Stewart (probably best remembered as Lepke in Murder Inc) as Sadini, and in a rare Hollywood appearance, Broadway star Larry Kert (the original Tony in West Side Story).

 

Watch here (don't worry -- it's public domain):

https://youtu.be/uhCE-wQXZds

 

bJm5ho5.jpg

 

 

5wL1qrJ.jpg

 

eD1PEfh.jpg

OMG!

 

This has a great write-up in the AHP book. Exemplary choice, RK!

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Even shadow puppets on a screen have been thought to be precursors of film, and since Melies later occupied the original Houdin studio in Paris, it is clear that both regimens have similar antecedents. Now that is Robert Houdin, not Harry Houdini who came later for those not so much into stage magicians.

 

CG ~ yes, I knew that Méliès had taken over the theater previously used by Robert Houdin. He was inspired by the performances of Maskelyne and Cooke during his time in England, and after failing to persuade the Lumière Brothers to sell him one of their machines, began the process of creating equipment and films.

 

The following anecdotes might better fit your Life Imitates Art thread, but with magic as the subject, it could also be at home here. If I may use the term without shades of pretension, there are numerous instances of meta-cinema in Hugo (2011), both the film and story on which it is based.

 

Brian Selznick, the author and a distant relation of David O. Selznick, was inspired by a book titled Edison’s Eve, which details the inventor’s (failed) attempts to create a mechanical doll. Magician Paul Kieve, magic consultant on Hugo, taught Ben Kingsley and Asa Butterfield the magic tricks performed by their characters in the film. Kieve was also the only magician to work on the set of a film in the Harry Potter franchise.

 

The notion of René Tabard’s The Invention Of Dreams alludes to early cinema’s ability to create magic, but is also a bit of celluloid sleight of hand. René Tabard, as found in Selznick’s book, is a fictitious author credited with the fictional title who morphs into a fully-fleshed character in the film by the same title. Although there is an author of the same name with books to his credit, my guess is the name René Tabard was taken from Jean Vigo’s Zero For Conduct (1933) as allusion to early French cinema.

 

The film certainly inspires nostalgia for French films and filmmakers, and no small amount of fondness for allowing us to believe that maybe, just maybe, James Joyce and Salvador Dali sat in the train station listening to Django Reinhardt and his Quintet Du Hot Club De France.

 

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