Loading the player...
Return to Main Page

Synopsis: More than a decade in the making, Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay is the captivating result of this curious conundrum: (Documentary filmmakers – whose mission is to probe, explore, reveal – take as their subject one of the world’s greatest living magicians, whose life and art are basically off limits to probing, exploration, and revelation) a mesmerizing journey into the world of modern magic and the small circle of eccentric geniuses who mastered it.

At its center is the multitalented Ricky Jay, a world-renowned magician, author, historian and actor (often a mischievous presence in the films of David Mamet and Paul Thomas Anderson) — and a performer who regularly provokes astonishment from even the most jaded audiences. In his extraordinary—and extraordinarily popular—one-man shows Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants and Ricky Jay: On the Stem, he proved himself to be the contemporary embodiment of an elite lineage, offering audiences not only exhilarating entertainment, but also a rare glimpse of a secret, lost world.

Told largely in Ricky’s own inimitable voice, Deceptive Practice traces the story of his achievement, from his early apprenticeship, beginning at age 4, with his grandfather Max Katz, an accomplished amateur magician, as well as Al Flosso, Slydini, Cardini, Francis Carlyle, and Roy Benson, all of whom were among the best magicians of the 20th century. Above all it celebrates the remarkable lives of Ricky’s two primary mentors of his young adulthood, Dai Vernon and Charlie Miller. Of the latter, Ricky recalls: “For Charlie a good evening could be asking you to do the same shuffle 16,000 times … It was just endless the variations and the craziness, but it was often as close to pure joy as anything I can imagine.”

The film weaves together stunning performance footage from his one-man shows and classic TV appearances, and also includes friends and collaborators such as Steve Martin (who joins him in a hilarious turn on a ’70s vintage Dinah Shore TV show) and David Mamet, who says of Ricky: “He’s devoted to that theater that he alone sees. He has the ideal of magic in his mind to which he’s devoted his life: to teaching it, to performing it, to perfecting it, to researching it.”

By the end of the film, viewers not only have a deep appreciation for the arduous and arcane demands of the magician’s craft, but also for the use of language and storytelling central to the art. And of where this ancient tradition is headed, that shall remain a mystery …

Genre

Documentary / Special Interest

Rated

NR

Language

English

Run Time

88 minutes

Starring

Ricky Jay (Sleight-of-Hand Artist, Author, Historian, Actor)
Winston Simone (Manager)
David Mamet (Writer and Director)
Persi Diaconis (Professor of Statistics & Mathematics, Stanford University; Magician)
Suzie Mackenzie (Journalist, The Guardian)
Michael Weber (Magician)
Sensei Fred Neumann (Martial Artist, Deputy Sheriff (ret.) Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept.)
Dick Cavett (Narrator)

Directed by

Molly Bernstein

Executive Producer

Ronald Guttman

Produced by

Molly Bernstein
Alan Edelstein
Alicia Sams
Philip Dolin

Composer

Olivier Manchon

Official selection

New York Film Festival - USA - 2012

San Francisco International Film Festival - USA - 2013

Quotes

The film offers all manner of mind-blowing tricks, as well as a colorful history of the evolution of magic and illusions, especially through the 20th century. - Tom Long, Detroit News

Jay's own personality and intellect steer the film, and he's such a finely honed performer that he easily carries it off...What we get here, simply, is time spent with Ricky Jay, and that's time well spent. - Walter V. Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle

A documentary portrait of the magician, author and actor who is known as one of today's preeminent practitioners of close-up magic. - Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post

Country of Origin

USA

Production Year

2012

Official Website

Please don't close or refresh the page while we are processing your submission
Please be patient, this could take a few minutes.

Choose the plan that’s right for you!

Change or cancel anytime

Single Channel
Click to subscribe
Multiple Channels
Click to subscribe
All Access
Click to subscribe
Subscription Price From: $4.99 / month $9.99 / month $14.99 / month
Free Trial Period
Automatic with subscription
Yes Yes Yes
Watch on your laptop, TV, phone, or tablet Yes Yes Yes
Single Festival Access Yes Yes Yes
Multiple Festival Access No Yes Yes
Unlimited Films On Demand
VOD Library
No No Yes

Join Email List

Be informed of upcoming events, film releases and special offers.

  • Click all channels that interest you. If you wish to only receive Film Festival Flix general communications, please leave this section blank.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Request A Screening

Search

close