Review: Kalanag International T.V. Spectacles DVD

I’m really thankful that Todd Karr with his Miracle Factory releases this series of historic magic videos as I’m much too young to have had the chance to watch these masters of the past live and there is so much to learn from them.

When I got the newsletter from Miracle Factory that announced a DVD about Kalanag I was immediately thrilled, because I’m German and he was the greatest German illusionist of the 20th. I never had seen anything from him before, but read quite  bit about him.

Kalanag, born as Helmut Ewald Schreiber startet in the movie business. He did magic from since his  youth and had great success during the Nazi regime with film making and performing magic which brought him a lot of critique afterwards. After the war he got banned from his profession so he started to perform professionally, in the beginning entertaining the British troops with his revue show which featured magic wonders and pretty girls.

It’s still unknown where he got the money to start this show as he financed it completely himself and there were always rumors that he had access to the lost Nazi gold and/or foreign currencies. His vanishing car alone cost about 10.000DM which was a fortune at this time. Shortly later he started to tour arround the world with about 40 assistants and big luggage with great success.

Irrespective of his political past he was a master of creating big exotic shows as it his seen on this DVD.

It contains:

  • Black and white footage of one of his full evening shows performed in Vienna 1960 which was broad casted as a NBC special.
  • Kalanag in two 1958 T.V. appearances on “The Wayne and Schuster Show”
  • Color silent footage of Kalanag

and some more goodies. You find the detailed content with a list of all illusions here.

The video quality is as expected for such old footage but it’s good enough to get a good impression of his work. Most of the video was filmed in a long shot without cuts so that you can clearly see what it happening. There are two shots of is really great levitation which is really a masterpiece because he uses several different principles to veil the method.

Here is a small teaser also found on Youtube:

His form of structuring the show in separates acts with different settings works quite well and even if it looks a bit moldy I found it still entertaining and some of it would work even today with some refreshing. Only his girl dancers in the Vienna show are often quite out of sync which looks not professional in contrast to the rest of the show. In the color footage you see how the looked like on better days.

Although  Kalanag speaks a mixture of German and English in the show that was shot in Vienna, I’m really sure that everybody can follow the act without any difficulties.

For $35  you get about 90 minutes of rare footage which is a good value for money in my opinion. For everybody interested in the history of our art I highly recommend this DVD.

You can buy it directly from Todd Karr on the Miracle Factory Website

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3 comments to Review: Kalanag International T.V. Spectacles DVD

  • Looks and sounds interesting! This is interesting because I used to live in Vienna :-) Do you know where in Vienna the performance took place?

  • George E Rowe

    I too, was enamoured of the Kalanag Show when I saw it on TV in the early 1960′s while in the Navy. My favorite Illusionists were Blackstone Sr. and Dante. Kalanag used Dante’s “Sim Sala Bim” title for his own show. There is much controversy surrounding Kalanag. Rumor has it that he used Nazi connections to take over the Kassner show. Also, I met his former lighting director Billy B Walker when I was playing Radio City Music Hall. He turned white as a ghost upon hearing Kalanags name. I have the Kalanag tape and some programs of his show. He was a very crafty man but an excellen showman. I took the stage name of “Kalamar” years ago in admiration of Kalanag.

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