This labor of love was directed, produced and narrated by hometown history buff and magician Vincent Dantini (I caught his act at the old Peabody Book Shop and Beer Stube on Charles Street where he gave me a business card that said “Dantini – He Knew Houdini!”), who passed away in 1979. After years on the vaudeville circuit, Dantini settled back home to perform magic in night clubs and occasionaly put on a scary show at movie theatres in the area, as the poster below illustrates:
Star-Spangled City was the Fells Point resident’s fourth and final film and Dantini rented out the 13,500-seat Baltimore Civic Center (what today is the 1st Mariner Arena) for its 1978 premiere – and allegedly lost $5,000 when only 60 people showed up! Besides featuring guest appearances by Blaze Starr, City Councilman Mimi DiPietro, and Mayor William Donald Schaefer, it also offered a look at one of the earliest Baltimore City Fairs. There are two 16mm print versions in the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s archives – a 27-minute one-reeler and an hour-length two-reeler print, the latter managing to capture a fire in the background while Dantini is touring the Inner Harbor!
Pratt also has a film about Dantini – whose real name was Vincent Cierkes – Chris Buchman’s Dantini the Magnificent (1968); described as a “film poem,” the 17-minute film documents a day in the life of the magician as he walks around Fells Point.
Check this item in the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s catalog