Monday, April 9, 2012

John Calvert

I was looking through the satellite box guide earlier today, and noticed that the "Documentary Channel" was running something called "John Calvert: His Magic and Adventures" that sounded somewhat interesting. Apparently, Calvert was a magician who has been performing for 80 years. (He's still alive and will turn 101 in August.) Calvert also spent a good decade or so in Hollywood, although I don't think I'd ever heard of his name or remembered it from any credits.

The documentary obviously spends more of the time on Calvert's magic, although some of the documentary is given over to that decade in Hollywood. Apparently Calvert played the Falcon in three of the films in that low-budget series, acted in a dozen or so other films, and served as a technical adviser on The Silver Chalice. You may recall that Jack Palance's character is a conjurer, and Palance apparently wanted somebody who had experience in magic to handle the direction, at least for the magic sequences. Calvert in the documentary has a good anecdote about Paul Newman, for whom The Silver Chalice was one of his earliest films. There's quite a bit of lousy footage from Calvert's "Falcon" films; it looks as if the footage came from awful TV prints.

The documentary refers to Calvert's magic and adventures: Calvert also was a stunt pilot, and took his own boats around the world as part of his magic show tours. Along the way, he survived a plane crash, multiple typhoons, pirates, and a small boat being capsized. Oh, and the guy met his wife in Singapore when she was part of his magic show. So I guess adventure is an appropriate word.

I have no idea when the documentary is going to show up on the Documentary Channel again. Their website doesn't list it on the schedule, but their website also appears to be a bit lacking. It has been put on DVD, but it's even more expensive than the stuff from the TCM Archive collections.

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