Random I-Tunes Song of The Moment: I'm Blue Again by Patsy Cline
If you've ever thought, 'when will Easy to Master Card Miracles Volume 25 be released,' you might be an Ammar fan.
If you've ever thought, 'people from coal-mining towns make the best magicians,' you might be an Ammar fan.
If you've ever thought, 'bald southern men who play with silks are sexy,' you might be an Ammar fan.
If you've ever thought, 'I wonder what Ammar would look like with hair,' you might want to get these DVDs . . .
These old VHS performances of Michael Ammar date back to a time when Mr. A was young and wore powder blue suits while brushing back his lustrous head of thick blond hair between performances. Back when cigarettes will still cool, soda cans had pull tabs, restaurants had salt and pepper 'blister packs,' and it was still ok to make slanty-eyed jokes about Chinese people. No these aren't random references. These are all actual topics/events that take place in the 'Magic of Michael Ammar' video series.
It's a four part series (each sold separately) that has recently been converted to DVD. Volume I: Command Performance, Volume II: World Class Close Up, Volume III: A Touch of Magic - Coins and Volume IV: A Touch of Magic - Cards are loaded with 'Classic' Ammar. These are effects that you probably think of when you think of Michael Ammar (Card on Ceiling, Coins Thru Silk, Iceman Cometh, etc) and a bunch of effects that you likely don't associate with him such as Torn and Restored Cigarette or Billy Balloon (Needle Through Balloon complete with slanty-eyed jokes and much more) and others.
These videos feature effects, for the most part, that are still just as valid today as they were then (almost 30 years ago). There are a few things that are sort of impossible to do today because the props don't exist or are nearly impossible to find. For example, the soda pull-tabs necessary for Pull Tab are no longer around. As a side note, Ammar mentions in the video that the prop is such a common item that it will be a long, long time before we live in a world where you can't readily get your hands on one. The day has arrived.
You'll also find it tough to get your hands on salt and pepper 'blister packs' that can be used in the context of the routine that Ammar teaches as an opener at restaurants. Additionally, you'll find a much less refined and a much more nervous and stiff Ammar along with an awkward Gary Ouellet (host).
Putting all those quirks aside, these DVDs are still loaded with Gems. As awkward as Ammar was back then, he was still as great of a teacher then as he is now. There is some excellent work on the side-steal, the Gallo Pitch, Coin in Bottle, The Topit, and a TON more. These DVDs are worth owning for many reasons. They're great archive footage, if nothing else. You get to see Ammar in action (always a good time). You get to learn from an excellent teacher some of the greatest basics of magic and some of the greatest secrets in magic. Highly recommended GEMS!
However, for the sake of completeness (and keeping my job as a reviewer for My Lovely Assistant), let's examine the specifics of this volume, Volume IV: A Touch of Magic - Cards -
Bluefield Debut (4.5/5)
Variation of Red Hot Momma. Nice fluid routine. Very slow and very deliberate and very magical. This is an effect worth studying for sure.
Bluefield Debut - 2nd Version (4.5/5)
Nice direct routine. Very powerful and very magical. And you get a lot of extremely detailed work on the side steal. This one's going to take some work to master for sure. It's a lot of hard core technique, but the end effect is super amazing.
Switching Sandwich (4/5)
I love the opening joke on this effect and will be using it in another routine. The effect just looks like real magic. The catch is you've got to learn some pretty tough sleights . . . the side steal and the side steal with top card cover. However, you get these down, and you've got one heckuva cool looking streamlined sandwich effect.
Inversion - 3 Methods (3.5/5)
I like the fact that there is no table needed for this effect. You also learn some more utility moves . . . JK Hartman's Popout Move and The Cardini Snap. This is one worth studying for sure. There were a few awkward moments in the handling, but in general the idea and the visuals are sweet.
Visually Yours (4/5)
This uses a moving pip card. I have no idea where to get one. He mentions that this prop is under-exposed and he's right. He was right then, and he's right now. He mentions that he makes his own, but he doesn't really show you how to make one. The effect is beautiful, however. You show a 2 of diamonds, and suddenly you see a third pip appear and slide down the card to make its way to the center thus creating a 3 of diamonds. The handling is such that the card is signed first and handed out to keep at the end. Beautiful, but you've got to find the gimmicked card. One point lost for not being able to find the prop. The source that he mentions on the DVD doesn't carry them (at least I couldn't find it on their site), but what do you expect, these were filmed 20 or 30 years ago.
Sillery Slice By Gary Ouellet (2/5)
I said this in volume 2 and here we are again . . . this DVD would have been better without Mr. Ouellet's inferior magic. Frankly this effect was kind of annoying. Although, to be fair, there was a nice color change sort of move at the end that may be worth considering.
Overall, I really like this DVD. As with the other 3 in this series, you get so much more than just the explanation of the effect. You get a ton of utility moves taught in depth; you get some excellent theory, psychology, and even some commentary about what type of effects you should perform and master.
Just the effects by themselves rank at 3.75 as an average. However, if consider that you only get 6 tricks, and one of them is another version of a previous one, and add the fact that one of them is by Gary Ouellet, and add the fact that one of them requires a hard to come by gimmick, I can only give this DVD . . .
3.5 Stars with a Stone Status of gem with a little 'g'