IMDb > Houdini (1953)
Houdini
Quicklinks
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
Overview
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guidemessage board
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
Promotional
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

Houdini (1953) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 5 | slideshow)

Overview

User Rating:
6.9/10   2,017 votes »
Your Rating:
Saving vote...
Deleting vote...
/10   (delete | history)
Sorry, there was a problem
MOVIEmeter: ?
Down 8% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Philip Yordan (screenplay)
Harold Kellock (book)
Contact:
View company contact information for Houdini on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
2 July 1953 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
The spectacular but tragically short career of magician and illusionist Harry Houdini whose tricks defied explanation and safety. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Routine, well made bio-pic of the escape master See more (30 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Tony Curtis ... Harry Houdini

Janet Leigh ... Bess Houdini
Torin Thatcher ... Otto
Angela Clarke ... Harry's Mother

Stefan Schnabel ... German Prosecuting Attorney

Ian Wolfe ... Malue
Sig Ruman ... Schultz

Michael Pate ... Dooley
Connie Gilchrist ... Mrs. Shultz
Malcolm Lee Beggs ... British Jail Warden
Frank Orth ... Mr. Hunter
Barry Bernard ... Insp. Marlick
Douglas Spencer ... Simms
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Eric Alden ... Sailor (uncredited)
Fred Aldrich ... Waiter / Bouncer (uncredited)
Elsie Ames ... Entertainer (uncredited)
Jan Arden ... Shimmy Dancer (uncredited)
Nick Arno ... Entertainer (uncredited)
Peter Baldwin ... Fred - Bess' Escort (uncredited)

Bobby Barber ... Comic Piano Player (uncredited)

Oliver Blake ... Coney Island Barker (uncredited)

Billy Bletcher ... Italian Basso (uncredited)
Cliff Clark ... Barker (uncredited)
Edward Clark ... Doorman (uncredited)
Jim Davies ... Heckler (uncredited)
Louise De Carlo ... Dance Girl (uncredited)
Daniel De Jonghe ... Desk Clerk (uncredited)
Marion Dempsey ... Sword Swallower (uncredited)
Don Dunning ... Heckler (uncredited)
Norma Jean Eckart ... Girl in Astor Guillotine Act (uncredited)
Fred Essler ... Officious Man (uncredited)
Bess Flowers ... Extra at Halloween Magician's Ball (uncredited)
Esther Garber ... Esther's Girlfriend (uncredited)
Jon Gardner ... Boy (uncredited)
Maxine Gates ... Heavy Blonde Woman (uncredited)
Bill Gentry ... Fred's Friend (uncredited)
Joanne Gilbert ... Girl (uncredited)
Jody Gilbert ... Fat Girl (uncredited)
Arthur Gould-Porter ... Alhambra Manager (uncredited)
Kit Guard ... 'Spirit' at Seance (uncredited)
Henry Guttman ... Master of Ceremonies, Berlin Nightclub (uncredited)
Alec Harford ... Assistant (uncredited)
Grace Hayle ... Woman Who Screams (uncredited)
Len Hendry ... Stagehand (uncredited)
Harry Hines ... Barker (uncredited)
Jerry James ... Reporter (uncredited)
Frank Jaquet ... Mr. Brown - Foreman (uncredited)
Tor Johnson ... Strongman (uncredited)
Frank Kreig ... Stagehand (uncredited)
William W. Larsen ... Guillotine Act (uncredited)
Lyle Latell ... Calcott (uncredited)
Mike Mahoney ... Bell Captain (uncredited)
Lewis Martin ... Editor (uncredited)
William Meader ... Reporter (uncredited)
Torben Meyer ... Headwaiter (uncredited)
Mary Murphy ... Girl (uncredited)
Hal Neiman ... Barker (uncredited)
Tudor Owen ... Blacksmith (uncredited)
Mabel Paige ... Medium (uncredited)
Ralph Peters ... Prisoner (uncredited)
Joe Ploski ... Man in Audience Throwing Tomato (uncredited)
Luce Potter ... Little Woman (uncredited)
A.J. Buster Resmondo ... Little Man (uncredited)
Lawrence Ryle ... German Judge (uncredited)
Richard Shannon ... Miner (uncredited)
Ray Spiker ... Stagehand (uncredited)
Bert Stevens ... Maitre d' - Hotel Astor (uncredited)
Charles Sullivan ... Audience Extra (uncredited)
Arthur Tovey ... Audience Spectator (uncredited)
Ernö Verebes ... Prof. Allegari (uncredited)

Anthony Warde ... Master of Ceremonies (uncredited)
Gil Warren ... Fire Chief (uncredited)
Audrey Washburn ... Contortionist (uncredited)
Betty Yeaton ... Contortionist (uncredited)

Directed by
George Marshall 
 
Writing credits
Philip Yordan (screenplay)

Harold Kellock (book)

Produced by
Frank Freeman Jr. .... associate producer
George Pal .... producer
 
Original Music by
Roy Webb 
 
Cinematography by
Ernest Laszlo (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
George Tomasini 
 
Art Direction by
Albert Nozaki  (as Al Nozaki)
Hal Pereira 
 
Set Decoration by
Sam Comer 
Ray Moyer 
 
Costume Design by
Edith Head 
 
Makeup Department
Wally Westmore .... makeup supervisor
 
Production Management
C. Kenneth Deland .... production manager (uncredited)
Andrew J. Durkus .... production manager (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Michael D. Moore .... assistant director
 
Art Department
Robert Goodstein .... props (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Gene Garvin .... sound recordist
Harry D. Mills .... sound recordist (as Harry Mills)
 
Visual Effects by
Gordon Jennings .... special photographic effects
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Guy Bennett .... second camera operator (uncredited)
Loomis Dean .... still photographer (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Joan Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Sidney Cutner .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Gil Grau .... orchestrator (uncredited)
George Parrish .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Leo Shuken .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Van Cleave .... orchestrator (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Joseph Dunninger .... technical advisor (as Dunninger)
Richard Mueller .... technicolor color consultant
George L. Boston .... technical advisor (uncredited)
 
Crew verified as complete


Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
106 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Certification:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Three years before this film was made, 20th-Century Fox was negotiating with Houdini's family to make a picture called "The Life of Houdini" and starring Burt Lancaster in the title role.See more »
Goofs:
Crew or equipment visible: As Harry and Bess are hurriedly leaving after meeting Harry's mother, a photographic flash can be seen as they reach the door.See more »
Quotes:
Harry Houdini:I hadn't prepared anything for tonight, but perhaps I have something that will amuse you. So if you'll get a couple of broomsticks, I'll get my wife - and we'll see what we can do.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Mau Mau Sex Sex (2001)See more »
Soundtrack:
Perpetuum Mobile, Op. 257 (Perpetual Motion)See more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful.
Routine, well made bio-pic of the escape master, 12 October 2012
Author: secondtake from United States

Houdini (1953)

You might think this is an odd pairing in an odd biopic, Tony Curtis as the brilliant escape artist and Janet Leigh as his assistant and wife. But it works. Yes, it is a somewhat glitzy, and totally entertaining version of the man's life, but it is solid and well done. And the colors are dazzling throughout. There's no escaping that.

Curtis is a true star already, and he is his usual charming self. I don't have a clue what Houdini was like in person, but there is a suspicion while watching that Curtis keeps it all a little light and breezy. In fact the whole movie is kind of airy, even when the young couple struggles to get their lives going. Leigh is cheerfully supportive, most of the time, and ends up in a formulaic role. Luckily she gives it enough energy to make it work.

When it comes down to it, there is little to say without comparing this to Houdini's known biography. And in fact the movie keeps pretty close to what is widely known. But of course the details are all a mush in order to make a kind of fairy tale of the whole thing. That's okay as long as you see it as such.

If you want lots of detail on all this you should find the TCM article, the long one, on the web. I hope they'll forgive me stealing this one paragraph:

--Casting newlyweds Curtis and Leigh was a publicity coup for Paramount, as the public was fascinated by the young marrieds and was eager to see them together on screen. Both were under contract to other studios, so Paramount had to negotiate loan-outs, Curtis from Universal, Leigh from MGM. As a result of the complex contracts, according to Curtis's autobiography, "The studios got a lot of money for it, but we just got our regular salaries."--

This is a true Technicolor job in the old academy 4:3 format, one of the last before widescreen swept the industry in the next year. Behind the camera is the well respected Ernest Laszlo ("Impact," "D.O.A.," and "Stalag 17") who does a great job with the camera but for some reason lit everything brightly and evenly. The result is lack of mood--and many of the scenes are begging for mood, like the flea-bitten carnivals. There are some notable sequences, like the underwater stuff, and the magic tricks required some photographic slight of hand as well.

So director George Marshall, known for cranking out lots of well made if unimaginative films, has another. It's good, and if you like the two main actors or the subject--or all three--you'll really enjoy it.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (30 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Houdini (1953)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Most inaccurate biography ever? sbere
Detroit River daryavaush
Legal Charges Against Houdini pkryder-1
So he drowns at the end and then is revived bobo-29
Are Safes REALLY Easier To Break Out Of Than Into ? pkryder-1
what is the name of he song when the curtain opens 4 underwater trick ? steel_reign_2020
See more »

Recommendations

If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends:
- - - - -
Death Defying Acts The Prestige Click Jeanne Eagels Chicago
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
Show more recommendations

Related Links

Full cast and crew Company credits External reviews
News articles IMDb Biography section IMDb USA section

You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.