Mandrake the Magician

Depp as Houdini in New Film

Inside Magic Image of Harry HoudiniHoudini as Johnny Depp is how some of the snarky trade journals are setting the story from here in Hollywood that the famed actor is in negotiations to lead The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero.

We have gone on record as liking Johnny Depp and disliking almost all snark about anything always. Accordingly we are looking forward to the film based on William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s book.

We are apparently alone among the top Hollywood journalists, though. Writes Screen Crush:

Depp will play the legendary magician in the new film from Dean Parisot, the director of ‘Red 2,’ which features Houdini as not just a magician, but an investigator of the occult — so it’s definitely territory with which Depp is familiar, given that he gets to wear a hat and spend time in the supernatural realm.

We don’t consider such snark to be affirming and supportive of humanity – or even that clever.

Houdini did not wear hats as often as Harry Kellar or Max Malini or even Chung Ling Soo (off stage). We reached out to Lionsgate – the production company – as to whether Mr. Depp is scheduled to wear a hat in more than 40 percent of the scenes. Surprisingly, we have not heard back from their usually very efficient publicity department. We will update this story as soon as we receive word.

Some of the coverage implies the movie will be adding a new dimension to the Houdini myth by portraying him as a debunker of Spiritualism. Students of the great magician’s history know his persistent battle against the nascent occult movement was just as important as his magic and escape work.

We think Mr. Depp will make a fine Houdini and the Kalush / Sloman book is rich with possibilities for great scenes. We are looking forward to the film without regard to the hat issue.

Mr. Depp is set to film sequels to Alice in Wonderland and The Pirates of the Caribbean soon and so it is not clear when he will have time to take on this new project. This scheduling problem led the Screen Crush reporter to ask snarkily, “No idea where this Houdini film will fit into his schedule, but maybe he can pull some free time out of one of his silly hats.”

No one likes a hater or a hat hater.

Magician Lee Winters Featured

Inside Magic Image of Lee WintersYoung magician Lee Winters sounds like our kind of guy.  He loves magic, is industrious and gives back to his community.  It is entirely fitting that the Danbury News Times would dedicate considerable space to their Q&A with the Connecticut performer.

His professional name is MagicLee and his weapon of choice is a deck of cards.

Mr. Winters fell in love with our wonderful Art about seven years ago and credits the late Bill Andrews and the Stamford Society of Young Magicians with encouraging and mentoring is rapid development.

He practices every day, films his own installments for YouTube and shares our love for Shaun Farquhar’s amazing effect Shape of My Heart.

“Every time I see it, it almost brings me to tears, it’s that amazing.”

Of course there are those in the magic community who will attack this young prodigy for revealing one of the true classics, The Vanishing Card on one of his YouTube videos.  Yes, the secret has been kept from the public since Robert Houdin and known to very few – until now – but we cannot fault him for this blatant breach of magic’s sacred code.

In the course of the videos (see them here and here), he gives precise details in the angle of deflection for the card to be vanished (47 to 48 degrees), the definition of momentum (as well as the correct engineering formula for determining momentum from known velocity measurements) and even the special Natural Linguistic Programming intonation and word choice to present the effect for maximum impact.

We can hear the exposure is good crowd crowing:

“Yeah, but anyone could figure out the trick.  It is wrong to keep secrets from the public.  No one goes on YouTube anymore.  There’s always a trick to it because there is no such thing as magic.  Why shouldn’t all magic be exposed before the trick is done and then the audience would better appreciate the actual performance rather than be surprised and shocked with no real chance to recreate the events causing the surprise?”
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