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Houdini (1953)

Approved  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  2 July 1953 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 2,147 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 13 critic

The spectacular but tragically short career of magician and illusionist Harry Houdini whose tricks defied explanation and safety.



(screenplay), (book)
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Complete credited cast:
Torin Thatcher ...
Angela Clarke ...
Harry's Mother
German Prosecuting Attorney
Sig Ruman ...
Connie Gilchrist ...
Mrs. Shultz
Malcolm Lee Beggs ...
British Jail Warden
Frank Orth ...
Mr. Hunter
Barry Bernard ...
Insp. Marlick
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The amazing career of master magician Harry Houdini is presented from his beginnings with a carnival "wild man" act to his emergence as an internationally-acclaimed illusionist, From his dramatic escape from a locked safe under the frozen Detroit River to an even more improbable one from a locked cell in Scotland Yard, he never failed to please and astound his audiences. Although Houdini's tricks are achieved through his marvelous physical dexterity and innate sleight-of-hand, he courted death with the hazardous illusions he performed and his compulsive quest to make contact with the spirit world. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

2 July 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran Houdini  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Although Houdini didn't die onstage at a Halloween performance, as this film would have you believe, he did, indeed, die on Halloween, 1926, several weeks after his last stage performance. To this day, in Houdini's memory, October 31rd is celebrated as International Magic Day. See more »


Near the end, when Bess is in the empty theatre, begging Harry not to do the trick, she is clapping. You can hear the loud claps, although she is wearing gloves on both hands. You would never hear the claps, only muted thuds. See more »


Bess Houdini: [to Houdini] Audiences are never satisfied. They love you for th moment you please them.
See more »


Version of Houdini (1998) See more »


The Thunderer
Music by John Philip Sousa
Played during the opening credits
Played often during Houdini's stunts
See more »

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User Reviews

Right Cast But This one Cries for a Remake
18 May 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Tony Curtis was the proper person to play Harry Houdini when this movie was made. He had the right attitude. Janet Leigh, his wife in real life then, was outstanding as Bess Houdini and the sparks between them show on this film. To me the problem is the script.

The real Houdini's life was much more interesting than the points of his life presented here. The story covers some highlights of Harry's life, and a little of the special relationship with his mom. It totally leaves out Harry's brother, the great Hardine. It doesn't get into the barn storming career or the great tricks Houdini did enough.

The film also fails script wise to show how well Erich Weiss promoted himself enough. I think the script was designed for Curtis & Leigh and misses the best parts of Harry's life. From what I have seen and read about Houdini, a much more interesting story is there to be told. This story does not tell it entirely.

I am glad they tried to do what they did here. For Curtis & Leigh fans this is a great showcase. If it were to be remade, there are more highlights of Houdini's amazing life that could be written to make a better film. I'd challenge Hollywood to tackle that. For now, this is the best we've got, but I have to wonder what could have been with a better script.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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