PCMS: Magicians and the Magic of Hollywood Cinema

The Philadelphia Cinema and Media Seminar is just now starting up. This Friday is the first of the year:

Matthew Solomon, College of Staten Island, CUNY
“Magicians and the Magic of Hollywood Cinema during the 1920s”

Respondent: Karen Beckman, University of Pennsylvania

Temple University Center City Campus (TUCC) Room 620
Friday, 9 November 2007

The end of stage magic’s “Golden Age” is often attributed to the popularity of cinema and the attendant decline of vaudeville. Rather than treating magic and film as competing industries, this presentation examines the apparent symbiosis that thrived between the two arts during the 1920s, when magicians like Houdini exploited moving pictures and Hollywood studios made a number of movies about magicians. What does the magic profession’s interest in feature filmmaking indicate about how ideas around visual illusionism were changing at this time? Correspondingly, what do films like You Never Know Women (1926), The Last Performance (1929), and Illusion (1929) suggest about the “magic” of Hollywood cinema during the silent period?


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