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French Pasteboards Review

Official Review

January 27th, 2003 5:06pm
Reviewed by David Acer
For years, the standard of magic in France has been extremely high, due in no small part to the bar-raising efforts of such talented entertainers as Gaetan Bloom, Claude Rix and Bernard Bilis.

French Pasteboards, published in 1980 by Mike Caveney, was among Bernard’s earliest offerings to English-speaking magicians, and might well be his best. The book contains 15 items (13 card, 2 coin), most of which showcase Bernard’s tendency to skirt the philosophical issue of sleights versus gimmicks by combining the two. In many cases, this amalgamation results in a more direct means to the desired effect. Take, for example, the supremely inspired “Torn Card,” a cut-and-restored card routine which requires both a gimmick and palming, but is unquestionably one of the most visually stunning examples of the genre.

Similarly, “Card Box Escape” combines a gimmick with Ed Marlo’s “Rise Rise Rise” to form an eye-popping finale to any Ambitious Card routine in which a selection rises up through both a deck and its case.

Where the marriage of sleight and gimmick falters is when either one or the other would accomplish the effect equally well on its own. For example, Bernard’s version of Roy Walton’s Collectors plot, which employs both a gimmicked card and three sleights, isn’t bad by any means, but also isn’t better than any one of a number of gimmick-free handlings, including Larry Jennings’ “Collectors I” (The Classic Magic of Larry Jennings, Maxwell, 1986), Jay Sankey’s “Collect Me Not,” (Sankey Panky, Kaufman, 1986) and Aaron Fisher’s “The Tax Man (The Paper Engine, Fisher/Lovick, 2002).

The presence of a gimmicked card also inhibits “Another Departure,” Bernard’s version of Alex Elmsley’s “Point of Departure,” but enhances “Open Travellers Again,” a killer approach to Larry Jennings’ classic “Open Travellers” plot. “Calculating Sandwich,” on the other hand, foregoes the use of a gimmick entirely, combining sleight-of-hand with a stack in a coupling that produces perhaps the book’s biggest fooler.

In terms of new sleights, French Pasteboards introduced us to The Bilis Spread and The Electric Double Lift, both of which are now widely employed, and the text’s contributions to coin magic in the form of “Another Matrix” and “Touchless Copper Silver” are also an interesting read, though these will be of limited use to walkaround workers due to their dependence on table space.

All in all, French Pasteboards packs a surprisingly big wallop. It’s full of fun, visual magic, presented in a clear and engaging manner. I’m sure you will find something you like here.

David Acer

Product info for French Pasteboards

Author: Bilis, Bernard
Publisher: Magic Words
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $8.50
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Manufacturer's Description:

A fine book of card magic from this French Wizard. 15 routines are covered in the book's 63 pages. Beautifully illustrated by Eric Lewis. The Bilis Spread and the Torn Card are easily worth the price of the book. Spiral bound.

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