The Davenport Collection
- a growing resource on magic and entertainment history

Esmé Levante

1938 Malvern Magic Convention Newsreel

1938 Malvern Magic Convention Newsreel

The International Brotherhood of Magicians British Ring held their 8th Annual Convention at Malvern in 1938. This Gaumont British News film was aimed at the cinema-going public. It features an upside-down strait jacket escape by Les Levante and an underwater escape by his daughter Esmé. It uses a breathless tone to capture the excitement of these and other magical happenings. Gus and George Davenport briefly turn up from time to time, most noticeably at the end having fun with the production of two giant bunches of flowers using a double Botania, no doubt on loan from the Davenport stand at the convention.

Film of Esmé Levante’s underwater escape, Malvern, 1938

Film of Esmé Levante’s underwater escape, Malvern, 1938

The International Brotherhood of Magicians British Ring held their 8th Annual Convention at Malvern in 1938. On Friday 24 June the Davenport family took a 16mm colour film of Esmé Levante escaping from bonds underwater. This stunt was arranged to provide publicity for the convention’s public magic show.

Film of the Levantes and Sticklands visiting the Davenports

Film of the Levantes and Sticklands visiting the Davenports

When magic visitors were invited to the Davenport family home, Ivydene in Kent, there was usually some fooling around. Filming was done outside because of the brighter light. On this film we see everyone having fun on the lawn. Bill Stickland demonstrates his doll made up of a body and Bill’s hand for its face. Bill is also pushing Wyn Davenport along in a wheelbarrow. Les Levante is fooling around with a pot on his shoulder. Gladys and Esmé Levante are there too. The children are Betty and Jean Davenport. Also appearing are Wynne, George and Gus Davenport.

Still photographs from the Davenport family cine films

Still photographs from the Davenport family cine films

The collection contains cine film taken by the family, much of it from the 1930s. The film has been transferred to tape, and more recently converted to an electronic form, in order to preserve the images. During this process some of the more interesting frames have been printed out as photographs. The magician on the top sheet of photographs shown here is Gus Davenport performing in Berlin in 1937. The face of Ottokar Fischer can be seen in one of the photographs lower down in the pile.