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Houdini
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Houdini (1953) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

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Up 176% 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:
The Magic Standard 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)
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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


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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:
A talented amateur magician, Tony Curtis performed most of his own tricks in this film.See more »
Goofs:
Revealing mistakes: 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: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:
Soundtrack:
Old Folks at HomeSee more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
8 out of 9 people found the following review useful.
The Magic Standard, 16 April 2008
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York

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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Message Boards

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Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Legal Charges Against Houdini pkryder-1
Most inaccurate biography ever? sbere
So he drowns at the end and then is revived bobo-29
Are Safes REALLY Easier To Break Out Of Than Into ? pkryder-1
Detroit River daryavaush
what is the name of he song when the curtain opens 4 underwater trick ? steel_reign_2020
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