Cover image for Grand illusions the story of magic
Grand illusions the story of magic
Ness, Mitchell T.
[DVD version].
Publication Information:
[Place of publication not identified] : Choices Select, [2002]

Physical Description:
1 videodisc (160 min.) : sound, color ; 4 3/4 in.
A six-part examination of the culture and history of magic. Explores the evolution of magic from the automata of Robert-Houdin to the elaborate illusions of Penn and Teller. Includes the story of the Hermann brothers; a profile of Harry Houdini's life and work and the impact he had upon succeeding magicians; studies of bizarre magicians and sideshow performers ; a look at dangerous illusions, such as the bullet catching trick, that have claimed the lives of magicians.
General Note:
For specific features see interactive menu.
[part 1] The father of modern magic -- [part 2] Harry Houdini -- [part 3] The Hermanns -- [part 4] The greats of modern magic -- [part 5] Weird magic -- [part 6] Death by magic.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DVD 6144 Adult DVD Open Shelf

On Order



Includes: The Father of Modern Magic; Houdini; The Herrmanns; The Greats of Modern Magic; Weird Magic; Death by Magic.


A series on magic, includes: The Father Of Modern Magic, Houdini, The Herrmanns, The Greats of Modern Magic, Weird Magic, and Death By Magic.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

As in any lesser-known field of entertainment, the names of most working magicians have no household recognition. Some of the conjurers featured in Grand Illusions appeared on the Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show, but there are no Houdinis, Copperfields, or Hennings here. Yet these individuals' lifelong dedication to magic and their tremendous showmanship make watching this disc a bit like discovering a new box of treasures in the attic (see Grand Illusions, Pt. 1, LJ 11/15/02). One episode profiles 20th-century close-up magician and card master Dai Vernon, who died in 1992 at age 98. Vernon, a.k.a "The Professor" to his many protegees, is described by one historian of magic as "a piece of living history" because his career spanned the century. A handsome man with bright eyes, Vernon was the only magician to have ever fooled the great Houdini (with a card trick in 1919) and one of the first to lecture on the art of close-up. An episode on female conjurers gives a brief history of women in magic and profiles the most successful contemporary women working today-names such as Jade, Joanne Spina, and Luna Shemada. Not surprisingly, almost all of the women started out as "magician's assistants" before striking out on their own. The director includes social commentary from magicians and pundits on the differences between female magic (about abundance and creation) and male magic (about mutilation and conquest). For example, the wand, one magician opines, is a phallic symbol. The Blackstones, a famous father and son, are also featured here. Father Harry, with his powerful "trademark" voice and staple acts-the floating light bulb and the dancing handkerchief-is described as the "last of the old school of performers." He was able to move successfully from vaudeville to talking pictures. Upon his death in 1965, his only son, Harry Jr., became a magician, saying it suddenly had "special meaning" to him. Harry Jr.'s career eclipsed his father's-in part owing to television. All of the episodes include vintage footage from the early days of movies and TV and interviews with current historians and performers. For its historical and entertainment value, the series is recommended for general collections.-Janet Sassi, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.