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Magic Extinguisher (1901)

A conjurer vanishes animals then vanishes himself.

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Sam Dalton
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A conjurer vanishes animals then vanishes himself.

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Undistinguished extinguisher.
22 June 2007 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

The print I viewed of this film (at the 2006 Cinema Muto festival in Sacile, Italy) had opening credits which gave its full title as 'THE Magic Extinguisher' (my emphasis added), which makes more sense than merely 'Magic Extinguisher'. The titular object isn't really an extinguisher: it's a magician's prop in the shape of a snuff-cone or a sugar-loaf, only much larger.

By placing this over-sized snuff-cone over various animals, the conjuror (Sam Dalton) transforms them into animals of other species. For the last transformation, he climbs under the snuff-cone himself.

This is just one more 'trick' film of the sort being done at this time by Georges Melies, although Melies's films were far more elaborate and fantastic. Effectively, this is merely a photographed version of a stage conjuror's act, made less impressive because we know that the trickery is achieved by jump cuts in the camera rather than any sort of stagecraft.

This movie was made by the Williamson Kinetograph Company, which made quite a few 'trick' films of this sort (all featuring Sam Dalton), but which also ground out low-budget (and lowbrow) comedies and mellerdrammers. Any films from this very early period have some historic interest, but the Williamson Company's output appears to be in every way less distinguished than comparable films made elsewhere at this time. 'The Magic Extinguisher' has less historic value than other output from this same production company, as the only camera set-up here is a theatre backdrop, and therefore we get no glimpses of the real world of 1901 England. I'll rate this movie 3 out of 10.


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