Well, as they are my hands in the film, I suppose I am the one to comment on the center deal in Dai Vernon: The Spirit of Magic and provide some background to the "disingenuous " use of the hand footage.
When we made the film - start to finish including editing - in about six weeks, we shot all the interviews in New York and Los Angeles over the course of about 5 days.
During the interviews we asked virtually ever guest if they would perform a Vernon effect - the idea being that we would be able to include much of Vernon's magic in the film. (There is virtually no film footage in existence that reflects the charm, grace and skill of a young Vernon. Existing footage is of Vernon well past his prime, which for me was circa 1930s and maybe into the 1940s.)
We asked those who I thought might be capable whether or not they could perform the Kennedy deal. The answer was always the same. No.
It became apparent in editing that there was not enough magic in a film about a great magician. We used stock footage where possible. Fred Kaps performing the LePaul spread pass and John Scarne handling cards - slowed down at my suggestion to try and make it appear a little more graceful or measured. Still, not enough magic.
The director asked me if I would fill some gaps. He brought a crew to my house and I extemporzied some pieces then and there to see if they would fit the bill. The trick that fooled Houdini, the center deal, the torn and restored cigarette paper among others.
We thought that most viewers - this was for an audience of intelligent history loving Canadians who are familiar with a great deal of documentary films would realize intuitatively that the magic hand sequences were stylized representations - not Vernon's actual hands. The footage was shot in the same manner and coloured different than the rest of the film to separate the sequences from the others.
Now, for the center deal. I do not believe there is one person currently at work who can perform a center deal in fast company. That includes all the superb card handlers - including Mr. Forte, with whom I have not met but have only heard the most fabulous things, both about his skill and his personality. I have met many of the great cardhandlers who can do an adequate demonstration, and a couple of hustlers who have purported used it in a game. Their deals would not fly, however, if I was at the table. We seek perfection in deception, not something that will just pass unsophisticated company. Anybody can do that.
So, the deal was faked but structured in such a way that I left lots of clues for those who are interested in deciphering such things. Mr. Gerdes picked up one of them - the placement of the aces.
What actually happend, to the best of my recollection, was that I started the sequence with a duplicate set of aces on the table and four aces on top of the deck. I gave the deck two tabled faros thereby loading the aces into every fourth hand. (Bruae Poker Deal, E.C.T. remarkably similar to the Royal Flush Deal credited as a new variation on another Genii Forum posting). I then picked up the four tabled aces, placed them on top, gave the deck an Erdnase false cut preserving the deck's order (another clue), and then performed some table faros with strip outs so that the deck remained in the exact same order. I regarded the table faro stip outs as another clue. (Why would someone do that just to control four aces for a center deal.) I was then able to deal four aces from the top demonstrating card control. I then put aces back on top, cut to the crimp for the Braue poker deal, and created the effect of the center deal. (Inaccurate placement of aces for the deal being another clue. Good work Mr. Gerdes.) We shot the entire sequence as one take. The director decided in editing, however, to cross cut the sequence with Ricky telling the story about the deal to enhance the drama.
So, I did try to lay out a few high end moves that would tip the more knowledgeable that it was not a legitmate center deal.
A few more comments if you will.
The timing, pacing and grip for the deal are totaly accurate. It is the timing and pacing that was taught to me by Ross Bertram who did perform the deal, albeit not in games. His ethics did not change to fit the situation.
Derek Verner asked me about the deal as soon as he saw the film. I told him what I have just told you. (He was amazed any magician would tell the truth, but that is another story.) He did say, however, that he recalled his father practicing the deal religiously and that it matched the timing, tempo and grace of what it looked like in the hands of his father. I believe then that this is the mark one must shoot for if one is to say that he or she can really do the Kennedy deal. Anything else is pretending.
The information about the center deal I contributed to Genii I believe is the most complete, up-to-date explanation of how to do that particular deal. It has every nuance and tip that I could muster. As this posting will hopefully illustrate, when I do tip information, which for a variey of reasons is not very often, I believe that I am obligated to tip the real work. It's there if anyone wants to work on it.
Hope this helps.