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Houdini (1953)

Approved | | Biography, Drama | 2 July 1953 (USA)
The spectacular but tragically short career of magician and illusionist Harry Houdini whose tricks defied explanation and safety.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (book)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Otto
Angela Clarke ...
...
German Prosecuting Attorney
...
Malue
...
Schultz
...
Dooley
Connie Gilchrist ...
Mrs. Shultz
Malcolm Lee Beggs ...
British Jail Warden
...
Mr. Hunter
Barry Bernard ...
Insp. Marlick
Douglas Spencer ...
Simms
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Storyline

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 duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

His feats of magic were GREAT! The magic of their love was GREATER!

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 July 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El gran Houdini  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A talented amateur magician, Tony Curtis performed most of his own tricks in this film. See more »

Goofs

Close-up of front page of Variety shows two photos of Houdini making elephant disappear; in era when this story was set, Variety never ran photos, except in ads. See more »

Quotes

Harry Houdini: It'll be the most dangerous thing I've ever done.
Bess Houdini: And the most dangerous!
Harry Houdini: Bess, people aren't going to stand in line and watch me pull rabbits out of a hat.
Bess Houdini: Why? Why must every act you do be flirting with death?
Harry Houdini: Because it's the only act that'll hold an audience spellbound. People fall asleep at the opera, but they stay wide awake at the bullfights because ther's one man defying death down in that arena. You take this out of my act and I'm nothing!
Bess Houdini: You keep it in and we're both nothing!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Although the film is in color, the Paramount logo and both the beginning and end of the film is in black-and-white. See more »

Connections

Version of Houdini (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland
(uncredited)
Music by Leo Friedman
Played during the opening credits
Played often in the score as the love theme
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Magic Standard
16 April 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Even over 80 years after his demise the name Houdini is still the standard by which magicians of all kinds are measured. David Copperfield, Rick Blaine, these guys are nothing in terms of popularity that Harry Houdini earned. The tricks he did are still being performed or attempted by magicians who want to make a name for themselves.

Paramount obtained the rights to the Houdini story from the estate of Harry Houdini from the guy his widow Bess gave it to after she died in 1943. They shelled out some big money at the time to obtain loan out services for Tony Curtis from Universal and Janet Leigh from MGM. The two of them had gotten married the year before and as a couple were getting a lot of publicity as young Hollywood marrieds. Houdini turned out to be the first of five films they did together, six if you count the joint appearance they did in the all star Pepe.

Back then, young and in love, Tony and Janet function beautifully as a team as Harry Houdini and his beloved wife Bess. Angela Clarke plays Houdini's mother who was also important in his life. What's not shown is the tension between the two women, they were not friendly. But that's one of several inaccuracies.

In fact this biographical film is mostly a work of fiction. But it's pleasant enough entertainment and it was the first film that Tony Curtis starred in that could be considered an A production. In his memoirs he recalls the experience as a pleasant one because of Janet and director George Marshall who he says was a good man to work with and an under-appreciated talent.

One thing that is shown is Houdini's interest in the occult after the death of his mother in 1920. He did in fact go around debunking fakers in the field which is field that is saturated with them. One thing not in the film is the fact he came into conflict with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, and fervent believer in the reachable spirit world. That in itself would make an interesting film.

I'm sure if Harry Houdini were able to comment he'd probably say he liked the film. He'd have to wait for a more accurate film about his life in the Eighties from Paul Michael Glaser and Sally Struthers. But I'd be flattered all to heck to think Tony Curtis was my type.


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