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Early Marlo Review

Official Review

January 27th, 2003 5:05pm
Reviewed by David Acer
As with Early Vernon, the good folks at Magic Inc published the first edition of Early Marlo in the 1960’s, with the intention of preserving a number of Ed’s 1940’s monographs that were in danger of being lost to posterity. Frankly, having now read these, I feel that most would have been better served by allowing them to become the stuff of legend, rather than the object of study. The exception to this is the fourth and final chapter, which we’ll talk more about in a moment.

“Pasteboard Presto,” the first manuscript/chapter, contains nine card routines, all of which make use of bent or crimped cards. There are three approaches to locating a selected card, one in which the card is found reversed in the deck (the mechanics for this are described in one terse sentence “ “Slip the top card [selection] to the bottom, reversing it in the action, cut the deck bringing it to the center.”). There is also an obsolete version of “Everywhere and Nowhere” (with no credit given to the originator of the plot), two remarkably uninteresting four ace productions, and a few other fairly unmagical effects involving selections.

The second manuscript/chapter, “Amazing, Isn’t It?,” begins with a diatribe by Marlo against mental magic, gimmicked cards, and tricks requiring pre-arranged decks. I might be more inclined to accept this if it weren’t for his presumably sincere claim that his material is “designed chiefly to entertain the layman.” I appreciate the fact that we are living in a different time, but even taking this into account, I just don’t see any of these tricks engaging an audience. Moreover, in the Foreword, Marlo rails against “counting tricks” (“This kind of monkey business puts everyone to sleep after two deals.”), then he opens the manuscript with a trick called (no joke!) “Card Counted To,” in which a spectator is required to deal cards no fewer than THREE TIMES before he arrives at his selection!

Of somewhat greater interest in this second chapter is “Marlo’s Think A Card,” an impromptu three-card prediction that makes effective use of the One-Ahead Principle, and “No Palm Aces to Pocket,” a clever (and somewhat addictive) technique for delivering one or several cards onto your inside jacket pocket that foregoes the use of palming. Apart from that, we are presented with more B-level plots and laboured handling.

“Marlo’s Discoveries” is the third manuscript/chapter, and contains 21 different methods for revealing a selected card. In its time, this was likely of some use to the reader, if only as a reference, but by today’s standards, these techniques are extremely uninteresting. None of the revelations are particularly visual, and indeed, most are downright boring. Marlo’s shortcomings as a writer also come to the fore here, and you’re likely to find several of the entries incomprehensible. Finally, the crediting is non-existent, except for a brief comment about these discoveries having been “collected” over the years.

Things finally pick up (and substantially at that) in the fourth and final chapter, “Oddity and Other Miracles.” “Oddity,” the “title track,” and the next trick that follows it, offer an interesting exploration of effects that can be accomplished with a deck comprised of 26 red-backed cards and 26 blue-backed cards, including Brainwaves, All-Backs, color-changes, and more. “The Perfect Stop Trick” is a brilliant and self-working method for allowing a spectator to count down in a seemingly random manner to his very own selection in the deck. “A Simple Ace Routine” offers an impromptu mathematical four-Ace location that is surprisingly magical. “Sympathetic Coincidence” is an excellent no-force, no-gimmick prediction effect wherein a freely chosen card from a red-backed deck matches a blue-backed card that was placed aside at the outset. “Double Trouble” is a killer divination of two chosen cards, in which a deck is divided in half, two spectators each take a card from a half, these cards are then returned, then the halves are shuffled together, one face up, the other face down. The magician then spreads the deck and is able to divine both selections from the jumbled mess (this is a real fooler!). In addition, there are three You Do As I Do’s, a pair of Card Stabs, and a few other less interesting routines, including several using products that were popular at the time, such as a mechanical Vanishing Pip Card, and something called Pip Liquid, which is rubber cement with a drop of India Ink stirred in (this, when applied to cards, can be made to look like a pip, but “vanishes” with a touch of the thumb).

Despite the questionable usefulness of the first three chapters, and Marlo’s marginal writing ability, Early Marlo is worth your attention for the final chapter alone, particularly given the low price of the book.

David Acer

Product info for Early Marlo

Author: Marlo, Ed
Publisher: Magic, Inc.
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $7.50
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Manufacturer's Description:

This is the enlarged 1976 edition. Contains all the early Marlo material, formerly put out in a dozen or more pamphlets. Now, with all new art work, all printed and spiral bound for easy study.

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