Heroes of Magic - A Century of Wonder
24th December 2000
A special celebration of magic and magicians during the last 100 years.
Written and produced by John Fisher
Reviewed by Duncan Trillo/MagicWeek
Starring: David Bamberg, David Berglas, Harry Blackstone Senior, Harry Blackstone Junior, David Blaine, Lance Burton, Chan Canasta, Cardini, Tommy Cooper, David Copperfield, Paul Daniels, Dante, Le Grand David, Arnold de Bière, David Devant, Wayne Dobson, Dunninger, Maurice Fogel, Uri Geller, Horace Goldin, Robert Harbin, Doug Henning, Harry Houdini, Fred Kaps, Rene Lavand, Levante, Max Malini, Jay Marshall, John Nevil Maskelyne, Hans Moretti, David Nixon, Cesareo Pelaez, The Pendragons, The Piddingtons, Channing Pollock, Richiardi, Marvin Roy, Siegfried and Roy, Slydini, Howard Thurston, Dai Vernon, and Mark Wilson. With commentary from contemporary magicians.
Heroes of Magic emphasised the point that if it's "not the joke, it's the way that you tell it," then it's also, "not the trick, but the way that you perform it" by presenting some of magic's greatest magicians performing everything from the smallest close-up trick to the largest stage illusion - all to maximum effect. The focus was always on the performer.
There was a flashing insight into the clear thinking of Dai Vernon at the start of the show. Dai Vernon was showing some linking ring moves to a then very young Doug Henning, when he said "Try avoiding superfluous moves, take them out" and then quoted Leonardo da Vinci "details make for perfection, but perfection is no detail." And the perfection that some of the featured magicians had achieved during their careers shone through:
immaculate dove and manipulation act. The 'chaotic perfection' and brilliant comic timing of Tommy Cooper during his cabinet illusion.
Richiardi's masterful illusion presentations. Fred Kaps, and his original presentation of a 'simple'
card trick. Slydini's cigarette magic. We saw the showmanship of Siegfried and Roy,
Hans Moretti, and David Copperfield. The magic and charm of a fresh-faced Paul Daniels making his television debut on
The Wheel Tappers and Shunters Social Club in 1975 (which I still remember vividly from its first screening). And
footage of some of magic's greatest magicians, both old and new!
Throughout there were comments from contemporary magicians. Here are a few quotes that offer food for thought:
"There are lots of young guys today who are very good - but they trivialise the magic." Pat Page.
"Uri Geller might be one of the great magicians of our century - good for him." Eugene Burger.
And on Fred Kaps: "What transcended his technique was his charm." Michael Vincent.
John Fisher and his production team must have put a tremendous amount of work into selecting and assembling such a rich collection of magical highlights from the last 100 years. This is a show that will be treasured by magicians for years to come. And if you want to know how to become a great magician, well... the answers are all here!
Heroes of Magic was dedicated to 'Professor' Harry Woodley.
© Duncan Trillo, January 2001
Screen shots top to bottom: Channing Pollock, Uri Geller, Richiardi, Paul Daniels, David Copperfield, and Dai Vernon with Doug Henning.