Mentalist on the Rifleman

Discussions of new films, books, television shows, and media indirectly related to magic and magicians. For example, there may be a book on mnemonics or theatrical technique we should know or at least know about.
Bill Mullins
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Mentalist on the Rifleman

Postby Bill Mullins » June 5th, 2016, 12:35 am

I just watched an episode of "The Rifleman" in which John Carradine played and billed himself as a touring mentalist. This is somewhat anachronistic, since that word doesn't seem to have been used in that sense (a mind reader) as early as the setting of the show (1880's).

Carradine's methods aren't explained -- it's never even made clear that his methods are not supernatural -- but I expect that the writer (Robert C. Dennis) or the director (Don Medford) knew something about methods. Carradine does a Q&A act, in which questions are written on folded slips of paper, and the way Carradine handles them is completely consistent with a one-ahead process.

(The use of the word "mentalist" isn't the show's only anachronism -- Lucas McCain uses a Winchester 1892 rifle, which wouldn't have been invented for several more years).

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AJM
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Re: Mentalist on the Rifleman

Postby AJM » June 5th, 2016, 5:50 am

Bill

Have you ever considered updating your viewing habits to something a little more modern - for example The Virginian or High Chaparal?

I was watching a recent episode of Bonanza where guest star DeForest Kelley played a travelling 3D TV salesman who performed 'hi-tec' demonstrations of his products which were clearly inspired by the work of Marco Tempest & Tony Chapek.

As any eagle-eyed viewer would know, high definition curved flatscreen 3D TVs were not commonplace until around the time that Little House on the Prairie was set.

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Gordon Meyer
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Re: Mentalist on the Rifleman

Postby Gordon Meyer » June 5th, 2016, 9:10 am

Or, it could have been the actor who had seen someone do that act, which he used to inform his character.

Bill Mullins
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Re: Mentalist on the Rifleman

Postby Bill Mullins » June 5th, 2016, 9:51 am

AJM wrote:Have you ever considered updating your viewing habits to something a little more modern - for example The Virginian or High Chaparal?


Ha!

We gave up cable a few months ago ($120 a month and we were only watching a couple of channels - I'm tired of subsidizing the NFL). We have a 9 year old son, and there is almost nothing on network TV is appropriate for a kid that age. So we watch a lot of old TV from Netflix, Amazon Prime, DVDs, and torrents.

I found the first season of the Rifleman online, and it is pretty good. It's been fun watching old character actors show up, and trying to figure out what else we've seen them on. John Carradine is one of those actors that always makes his parts interesting, and he's shown up twice already. Michael Landon, Jack Elam, John Dehner, Claude Akins, Richard Anderson, Royal Dano, James Coburn, Dabbs Greer, Robert Vaughn, William Schallert, John Anderson (3 different roles in the first season), R. G. Armstrong, Warren Oates, Dennis Hopper, Vic Morrow, Lee Van Cleef. The direction (Sam Peckinpah!) and the writing (Bruce Geller, who went on to Mission Impossible) are generally pretty good. The shows have a moral compass without being too preachy. I don't have to explain any alternative lifestyles to my son. Lucas shoots a lot of people, but they always have it coming. This show holds up very well, nearly 60 years later.

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AJM
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Re: Mentalist on the Rifleman

Postby AJM » June 5th, 2016, 10:18 am

Some good names in there - Robert Vaughn has been working constantly in both the UK and the US for decades.

We moved away from satellite/cable tv here in the UK some time ok. Paid a hefty monthly fee to watch an occasional movie or football match (or soccer as it is commonly known in your part of the world.)
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Leo Garet
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Re: Mentalist on the Rifleman

Postby Leo Garet » June 5th, 2016, 11:01 am

Lee Van Cleef and Jack Elam. Two all-time favourites. Both in "High Noon," though neither was very busy. And Van Cleef didn't speak.

One of the most underrated western series for me was "The Dakotas". Elam as a gunfighter turned lawman. That made a change.

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Steve Bryant
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Re: Mentalist on the Rifleman

Postby Steve Bryant » June 5th, 2016, 1:23 pm

I've been catching up on the original Maverick series on cable with James Garner, Jack Kelly, and Roger Moore. Fun to see budding actors such as Troy Donahue, Robert Redford, and Adam West and, boy, do I ever still love Connie Stevens. Lots of glamorized poker games, elaborate scams, etc.

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Re: Mentalist on the Rifleman

Postby Diego » June 6th, 2016, 1:11 am

Bruce Geller was a magician, which could explain things.

The magic influence in "Mission Impossible" comes out often...Geller once described each episode was a magic trick in itself.

Leo Garet
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Re: Mentalist on the Rifleman

Postby Leo Garet » June 6th, 2016, 1:39 pm

Diego wrote:Bruce Geller was a magician, which could explain things.

The magic influence in "Mission Impossible" comes out often...Geller once described each episode was a magic trick in itself.

Indeed.

Am I dreaming? I can't find the issue I think I'm thinking of, but wasn't there a recent Genii feature on William Read Woodfield, who among other things spoke of Bruce Geller, their work together, "Mission Impossible" and magic on TV in general?

By "recent" I mean in the last few years or so.

observer
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Re: Mentalist on the Rifleman

Postby observer » June 7th, 2016, 1:56 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:I just watched an episode of "The Rifleman" in which John Carradine played and billed himself as a touring mentalist. This is somewhat anachronistic, since that word doesn't seem to have been used in that sense (a mind reader) as early as the setting of the show (1880's).

Carradine's methods aren't explained -- it's never even made clear that his methods are not supernatural -- but I expect that the writer (Robert C. Dennis) or the director (Don Medford) knew something about methods. Carradine does a Q&A act, in which questions are written on folded slips of paper, and the way Carradine handles them is completely consistent with a one-ahead process.

(The use of the word "mentalist" isn't the show's only anachronism -- Lucas McCain uses a Winchester 1892 rifle, which wouldn't have been invented for several more years).


1880's is also extremely early for a Q&A act. Closest I could find (in a brief search) was a reference to The Amazing Baldwins (Samri "the White Mahatma" Baldwin and his wife Kitty), in which Mrs. B answered questions which the audience had written using "tablets" and pencils thoughtfully provided by the Baldwins. The audience even got to keep the paper they'd written on! and yet their questions were answered ... after the ushers collected all the tablets and there was a five minute intermission. I couldn't find a date for the first performance in the one ahead style made famous by Carnac the Magnificent et al., though.

Interesting description of the Baldwin show at:

https://forgottennewengland.com/2011/10 ... allment-i/

Bill Mullins
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Re: Mentalist on the Rifleman

Postby Bill Mullins » June 7th, 2016, 8:50 pm

Diego wrote:Bruce Geller was a magician, which could explain things.


Geller didn't write this particular episode (I should have made that clearer). He only wrote two, and I don't recall either of them showing evidence of his being interested in magic.

Geller died relatively young (47) in a plane crash. His papers are held at UCLA. In addition to the magic-influenced Mission Impossible, he produced and directed Harry in Your Pocket, about a pickpocket mob. Tony Giorgio was a technical consultant, and played a minor role in the movie.

His father was a judge, and Bruce played him in Fear on Trial, a TV movie about a blacklisted screenwriter.

There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of information online about Geller. I'd enjoy reading an article about him sometime (hint, hint, Diego).

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Mentalist on the Rifleman

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 7th, 2016, 9:23 pm

No, Leo, there was nothing like that in Genii.
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Diego
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Re: Mentalist on the Rifleman

Postby Diego » June 7th, 2016, 10:44 pm

Bill, your estimation of my knowledge of Bruce Geller is flattering but without merit. If not GENII, I do believe there was an article in MAGIC about Geller and/or "MI".

Before that, my only knowledge was when I was a teenager hanging out in The House of Magic, (San Francisco) I overheard the owner, Marvin "Buma" Burger talking with his good friend, Emile Clifton, asking, "Whatever happened to Bruce Geller?" Emile replied, "You see him all over the place in big letters, on the show, "Mission Impossible?" At that time, "MI" was one of the top rated shows.

In the first season, one episode had the MI team posing as a small circus/carnival troupe, and Steven Hill and Barbara Bain, did a two person (code) act. The code was later used to exchange information, when they visited the Martin Landau character, while he was an inmate in the prison they were targeting.

(Peter Graves was good, but I always believed the first season starring Steven Hill, was the best.)

Leo Garet
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Re: Mentalist on the Rifleman

Postby Leo Garet » June 8th, 2016, 9:49 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:No, Leo, there was nothing like that in Genii.

Gulp. I know (as much as anyone with a memory as "wonderful" as mine can ever know) that I read a quite substantial article somewhere. It must have been "in another place," that is, "the other" US glossy magazine. As hinted at by Diego.

So Gulp, once again, and sorry Richard. :)


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