5.8/10
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12 user 1 critic

Houdini (1998)

The life and times of escape artist/magician Harry Houdini.

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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Harry Houdini
... Bess Houdini
... Blackburn
... Esther
... Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
... Theo
... Mrs. Weiss
... Booking Agent
... Jim Collins
... Lady Doyle
... Usher
... Beck
... Young Houdini
... Samuel Weiss
... Street Vendor
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Storyline

This biographical film tells the story of Harry Houdini, from his birth and immigration to the U.S., through his career in show business as first an escape artist and then a seance debunker, and finally his tragic death. We also see his relationship with wife Bess. Written by <crow_steve@hotmail.com>

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He made a life out of cheating death


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Unrated | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

6 December 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Believe  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Connections

Version of Houdini (1953) See more »

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User Reviews

 
When will they tell Houdini's story accurately?
30 May 1999 | by See all my reviews

When Tony Curtis played Harry Houdini in the 1953 George Pal movie, the fact that it wasn't historically accurate wasn't of serious concern, and the movie is entertaining for what it is.

The TV movie THE GREAT HOUDINIS was a hasty little film of no particular interest; it's hardly memorable. But by the time 1998 rolled around, the opportunity existed to tell an accurate version of Houdini's life -- and Pen Densham not only wildly blows this, he made a movie that's actually insulting to Houdini's memory, which wasn't true of the earlier versions.

The movie falsifies every relationship it depicts; Houdini's brother wasn't a whining ingrate, Houdini's wife Bess was steadfast and loyal, Houdini knew Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for many years, not for the single lunchtime meeting shown in the movie.

But the insulting aspect is the element of spiritualism; Houdini spent years debunking it, and NOT just because mediums couldn't put him in touch with his mother. For the movie to show that survival after death is REAL is a betrayal of one of the main aspects of Houdini's life.

And they also treat his career all wrong. Where was the Handcuff King? Where was the magician who created gigantic illusions, like walking through a wall or making an elephant disappear? Like the George Pal version, this one also invents a lot of malarkey involving the Chinese Water Torture.

Houdini was a very interesting and colorful performer, and he deserves a reasonably accurate biography instead of more claptrap like this.


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