Spot the magic tricks in this MST3K movie!

Discussions of new films, books, television shows, and media indirectly related to magic and magicians. For example, there may be a book on mnemonics or theatrical technique we should know or at least know about.
Jeff Haas
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Spot the magic tricks in this MST3K movie!

Postby Jeff Haas » May 24th, 2017, 10:42 pm

No, not in the host segments - done as practical "science fiction" effects in the movie itself! Madness!

It's episode #3 of the new Mystery Science Theater 3000, featuring "The Time Travelers."

Let's see, what did they do?

- Live android head swapping, using a table with unnecessary ribbon striping!
- Appearing picture from a far-away galaxy using...a TV Card Frame! (Unfortunately they seem to have dropped the actual trick and used a camera trick. Too bad.) But, you can see the futuristic rubber bands!
- How do you prevent scurvy when flying on a spacecraft to a distant planet? Robert Houdin's Orange Tree, of course! Watch the guy on the right do a billiard ball change-over for a real Mandarin orange.
- See the dumb guy get strapped into a fall-apart stage illusion! (er, matter transporter). Ignore the wobbly control panel.

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Spot the magic tricks in this MST3K movie!

Postby Jonathan Townsend » May 25th, 2017, 9:46 am

28 mins in for the eyes in the android head
40 mins for the card frame
51:30 for the orange tree action
1:02 for the vanishing person
1:03 for the optical appearance
enjoy ? the tricks look awkward - did the guy in silver hair perform onstage?

Some of the plotline got recycled into a Doctor Who episode called Utopia.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Spot the magic tricks in this MST3K movie!

Postby Jonathan Townsend » May 25th, 2017, 2:35 pm

Who did the set/design for the movie? The square/circle, rings, milk glass and card frame look like magic shop props. Specially designed tables, the mirror alcove and that revolving person vanish almost look like someone's stage act got a makeover.

Any sources?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

observer
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Favorite Magician: Harry Kellar - Charlie Miller - Paul Rosini - Jay Marshall
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Re: Spot the magic tricks in this MST3K movie!

Postby observer » May 25th, 2017, 7:29 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:Who did the set/design for the movie? The square/circle, rings, milk glass and card frame look like magic shop props. Specially designed tables, the mirror alcove and that revolving person vanish almost look like someone's stage act got a makeover.

Any sources?


from IMDb:

Art director: Ray Storey
Special effects by: Wayne Anderson, Gary Heacock, Don Russell
Visual effects by: David Hewitt, Bill Hansard

Any magic names among those?

The film's director was Ib Melchior, interesting guy but no apparent magic connection.

From his Los Angeles Times obit: "The budget on 'Time Travelers' was so small that illusions devised by a magician served as special effects."

Max Maven
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Re: Spot the magic tricks in this MST3K movie!

Postby Max Maven » May 26th, 2017, 1:04 am

A few years ago, at the Magic Castle, I did an interview in front of an audience with Ib Melchior, who wrote and directed that movie. We screened clips of the magic segments, and discussed them, along with various anecdotes from his long career.

At the time (2014), he was 96 years old, and still very cogent. He died the following year.

Although Ib Melchior had some involvement with magic in his background, the tricks came from a guy named David Hewitt. Some of the props were built by Owen, notably the “Vibra-Transporter” -- a rarely seen illusion, “Vision of Tomorrow,” which in the Owen catalogs of the 1970s and ‘80s was credited to “D. Hewitt and L. [Les] Smith”.

Regarding the “Television Card Frame” used as a message teleportation device, it’s clear that it was filmed live, and then a few frames were snipped. My guess is that some slight motion was visible on film, hence the edit. In the interview, I opted not to ask Ib Melchior about this, as it could have been an awkward question for him.

In addition to preparing clips of the magic scenes for discussion, I also had some illustrations showing some of the sources of the effects. Melchior was quite surprised to learn that there were items in his movie that went back several hundred years.

One of the most enjoyable moments in the interview was when it was pointed out to the audience that, while they’d recognized the magic effects and understood their methods, there was a bold cheat accomplished using an in-camera trick of false perspective to make a set look much larger than it actually was, that none of the magicians had caught.

Not much is known about David Hewitt. He seems to have been under the radar as far as magic clubs and magazines. He worked in Spook Shows at various times. After Time Travelers, for which he wrote the story as well as providing the magic, he went on the write and direct some astonishingly bad movies. One of those was Journey to the Center of Time in 1967, essentially a remake of Time Travelers but without any of the magic effects.

Another of his films was Monsters Crash the Pajama Party, a 1965 effort that only runs half an hour. It was shown in theaters in conjunction with live Spook Show segments that were set up by the film segments. In comparison, it makes Time Travelers look like Citizen Kane.

It was a great kick to meet and interview In Melchior, as he had directed and co-authored The Angry Red Planet, which I saw in a theater during its original release. To an eight-year-old, that was the greatest movie ever made.

Larry S.
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Re: Spot the magic tricks in this MST3K movie!

Postby Larry S. » May 26th, 2017, 10:26 am

By the way, the man changing squares to circles is Forrest J. Ackerman, of "Famous Monsters of Filmland".

Bill Mullins
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Re: Spot the magic tricks in this MST3K movie!

Postby Bill Mullins » May 26th, 2017, 11:55 am

Some background on David Hewitt.

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Spot the magic tricks in this MST3K movie!

Postby Jonathan Townsend » May 27th, 2017, 2:32 pm

Thanks Bill, figured someone know about he Owen/Abbot's items and had them for a show between tours.
Did you watch the guy on the orange tree move? Take five, remember we're filming in color :)
Also thanks for the Deland lecture. Fine arts.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Bill Mullins
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Re: Spot the magic tricks in this MST3K movie!

Postby Bill Mullins » May 27th, 2017, 4:30 pm

Don't thank me, thank Max.


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