Jasper Maskelyne

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Jasper Maskelyne

Postby Richard Stokes » Sun Oct 24, 2004 8:18 am



I note the familiar recycling of the War Magician myth in some earlier notes at this Forum.
For example, one member linked Jasper to Intrepid's Camp X - this aspect of the myth is totally false.

I've launched a new website on Jasper Maskelyne.
The url address is:
http://www.maskelynemagic.com

I examine in detail David Fisher's error-ridden
concoction, "The War Magician"(1983) and Maskelyne's
own tainted ghost-written memoirs, "Magic Top
Secret(1949).
I also interview in depth Alistair Maskelyne, Jasper's
son who lives in Queensland, Australia. He worked with
his father for a short period after the war.

David Fisher is about to re-release the War Magician
in hardback this month.
And Paramount and Tom Cruise still claim they are
planning to make a movie about Jasper based on
Fisher's account.
But inside sources, Alistair Maskelyne and his
wife,Bettina, tell me that Peter Weir, the director,
has read my material in its original printed form and
has now pulled out of the project.

I am willing to debate any material on Jasper (mythical or otherwise) that appears on the web or in other sources.

I can be contacted direct at rjs@maskelynemagic.com
Richard Stokes

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Postby bananafish » Sun Oct 24, 2004 9:03 am

Richard

Thank you for that. I have just sat down (with a cup of coffee and a bagel) and have started reading through your fascinating articles.

It is no real surprise that some of Jasper Maskelyne's stories are fabricated into "Boys Own" style adventures. In fact I am sure that it is no less than we would expect if the likes of Thurston or Keller (for example) would have been involved in the war. Self promotion seemed to be everything to these guys.

I am now eager to get a copy of Maskelyne's own telling of the tale "Magic-Top Secret". Certainly more so than reading Fisher's novelised account. It is interesting that the book is so rare. Could this be that there was an active movement to buy up and destroy all copies? or maybe even Maskelyne himself was embarrassed by the material and he personally chose to withdraw it?

Anyway I will get back to you after reading the articles, but thanks for posting a link to them here.

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Postby daleshrimpton » Mon Oct 25, 2004 7:52 am

I watched the tv play fooling hitler last night. Not a mention of Maskelyne what so ever. I thought it good in places, but clearly was a work of Fiction, with Fairbanks playing a much stronger role in things than he could of played within the real department.

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Re: Jasper Maskelyne

Postby Richard Stokes » Mon Oct 25, 2004 8:14 am

The American made documentary on Jasper Maskelyne uncritically recycled the Fisher version. I found the reenactment rather silly.
The Channel Four English documentary on Maskelyne, which the producer assured me was going to be more critical, ended up following a similar path, and only contained minor caveats. (It did at least contain excellent footage of the real Maskelyne performing some memorable magic tricks.)
The subsequent notes on the Channel Four web site are full of errors and false claims. Inexcusable, as they had access to my articles!
I'm hoping that the tide has turned and that more accurate information on the real Jasper Maskelyne will gradually filter through to other web sites.
Eventually, I predict, Fisher's fabricated account will be discredited.
Yours sincerely
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Postby Richard Stokes » Mon Oct 25, 2004 8:59 am

The Fooling Hitler dramatisation suffered from mediocre scriptwriting. That old problem of inane exposition kept rearing its ugly head.
I had some hope that it would tackle the subject seriously (akin to the BBC reenactment of Dunkirk).
Alas, I realised that the scriptwriter was a phoney when he introduced the wooden bomb incident early in the game ( this amusing war legend I tackle in one of my Maskelyne articles).
There's some truth to Fairbank Jnr's involvment in the deception war, but I agree with a previous note that the director/writer has played fast and loose with history.
For example, Fairbank's own account in 'A Hell of a War', reveals that he was not actually involved in the Dieppe raid. The TV show claims he makes a landing but avoids the worst of the action. Instead, in real life, he was out in the channel experimenting with sonic deception. He was quite shocked when he learnt the real news about what had happened.
The ITV dramatisation is a timely reminder that it's not just the Yanks who rewrite and mythologise history.

The postman has just delivered Fisher's re-released copy of the War Magician from Amazon books!
On first glance, it looks unrevised, apart from a few extra photos. I would have expected Fisher to have at least written a preface or a tail-end update.
Weidenfeld and Nicolson should be ashamed of themselves.

Yours sincerely
Richard Stokes

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Postby bananafish » Mon Oct 25, 2004 9:19 am

In many ways I find this whole topic quite scary.

I sounds like no one really wants to read about the real truth because it just wasn't that fascinating or exciting. So instead the truth gets embelleshed so much that no one actually knows what was real and what was fiction.

Move forward 200 years, or even 100 years and books like that end up be historical documents. Maybe I am exaggerating the importance of Maskelyne a little, but what scares me is does this also happen for the important stuff? Can we actually believe ANY history book?

Sticking with magic for a while, are all the books and stories we read about Robert Houdin, the man that changed the face of magic, true? how much of those stories are just fabrications to make him seem more interesting?

No offence Richard, and you have to believe that I do NOT believe this, but all your articles could be totally made up? After all any one can publish a web page on the internet and say what they like?

As I say. All scary stuff.

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Postby Richard Stokes » Mon Oct 25, 2004 9:42 am

Yes, I understand the feeling.
Radical scepticism could move us into dangerous areas.
But what other line can we pursue?

I can assure you that my articles have not been made up. I have scoured the war literature for references to Jasper. I have tried to follow up every trail.
I corresponded in depth with Jasper's son, Alistair in the mid-'90's and was a guest at their house in Queensland in late 2001. Alistair's letters to me were witnessed and photocopied by Brian McCullagh, a Sydney based magic historian.
I am still in regular e-mail contact with Alistair.
Now I'm in England, I have been able to examine the British war archives.

With the Maskelyne material now released on the web, readers or viewers can make their own mind up.

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Postby daleshrimpton » Mon Oct 25, 2004 9:56 am

Richard, Do you have any information you could pass on to me, regarding members of the Maskelyne family living in Maidenhead?
I have only been able to find one mention in a local history book, That only being one line giving little or no clues to where exactly the house was.
Many thanks..
Dale

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Postby Mandrake » Mon Oct 25, 2004 10:17 am

Can we actually believe ANY history book?
Yes - about as much as we can believe the tabloid press. History books don't lie in exactly the same way that the camera doesn't lie. In fact, the more I travel overseas and talk to local folks, the more I realise that our own history is as biased and sanitized as the history of most other countries and I reckon it's now a question of checking as many different sources as possible and forming your own opinion. I'm prepared to suspend disbelief for Magic but not for history and certainly not for Hollywood!

(I still can't picture Tom Cruise in the role. Although he is perhaps one of the better actors of current times, as Jasper Maskylene I'd find him totally unbelievable. Perhaps we could persuade Dick Van Dyke to reprise Bert's 'British' accent from Mary Poppins and take on the part - he's probably nearer the right height!)

PS - Great articles Richard, many thanks!

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Re: Jasper Maskelyne

Postby Mandrake » Tue Dec 29, 2015 11:19 am

Bumpety bump!!!

At loing last the screen version looks like becoming a reality but not, thank goodness, with Tom Cruse in the title role. Our very own Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch has been cast as Maskelyne - see http://variety.com/2015/film/news/bened ... 201656495/

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