Film noir starlet Veronica Lake learned magic for her role in the 1942 film This Gun For Hire. Lake plays a nightclub singer who sings “Now you see it, now you don’t” as she performs impressive feats of magic. Lake deftly executes a number of sleight of hand effects and one cleverly conceived illusion in which a cigarette transforms into a cigar.
Four magicians are credited with creating the magic in the film. These include magic buff and film producer Jan Grippo; local L.A. television magician “Skipper Frank” Herman; and New York close-up magician Jimmy Grippo.
However, the magician whose influence is most on display is Marian Chavez. Marian and her husband Ben opened the Chavez College of Magic in Hollywood in 1941. Their studio had great success and produced many accomplished magicians. The studio emphasized sleight-of-hand for stage performance using: billiard balls, cards, coins, thimbles and cigarettes. Lake uses all of these props in her song and dance number except for thimbles. In film noir, femme fatales are never seen wearing a thimble.
Miklitsch, Robert. Siren city: sound and source music in classic American noir. Rutgers University Press, 2011.