Friday, April 8, 2011

WILD ABOUT HARRY: A look back at HOUDINI (1953)

My initial interest in magic happened with this HOUDINI movie by Tony Curtis. I love all the Houdini movies (with the exception of Death Defying Acts). John Cox who has the fantastic blog has written several pieces about the various Houdini movies. The first is the 1953 movie starring Houdini and John has got some great information on the making of the movie. At the very bottom of his blog are links to the other articles. He covers: The 1976 The Great Houdinis, The 1987 Young Harry Houdini, The 1998 HOUDINI by TNT, and the 1997 Fairy Tale: A True Story movie. There are two different blogs about the Paul Michael Glaser movie 'The Great Houdinis' so be sure to check them both out.

WILD ABOUT HARRY: A look back at HOUDINI (1953): "Unquestionably the most famous Houdini biopic is Paramount's 1953 HOUDINI starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. It's amazing just how many ..."


  1. You don't have to answer this but what made you less keen on "Death Defying Acts" - was it the characterisation or just that the whole thing was fiction or something else?

    I've only seen it once. I thought it was all right but because I knew none of it was true it didn't really grab me. What's weird about it is that every time someone finds out I like Houdini they always ask me if I've seen that film.

  2. I didn't find Guy Pierce to be very Houdini-like, perhaps cocky athlete-like but didn't really jive as Houdini. Plus this Houdini wasn't married, the real one was. The story wasn't awful, but I had a hard time with the way they wrote Houdini's character. Now, I happen to think Guy Pierce is a great actor, so it's not him per-se, it's just in this role. Paul Michael Glaser and Harvey Keitel probably did the best Houdini's.
    I did watch the movie a second time a couple months ago, and still disliked it.

  3. And I don't think Houdini would fall for a fake medium, married or not, lol.

  4. Fair enough - I think your assessment of it is pretty accurate.

    I don't mind Guy Pearce either but if you come from Australia he will always be that bloke who was on "Neighbours" (ancient soap opera).

  5. Hey, thanks for the link, Dean. What an honor. :) I just love Houdini '53.

    I don't dislike Death Defying Acts, but it my least favorite of the Houdini films. Note it's the only one that hasn't received a "look back" blog entry. I just haven't figured out yet how to talk about it.

    Also, he is married in DDA. There is one quick reference to Bess, I believe. Maybe a photo.

  6. Really???I completely missed the reference to Bess. I will tell you that I thought the opening underwater credits thing was cool. But it just didn't do it for me after that. The opening scene in Fairy Tale:A True Story though, wow, the hanging straight jacket escape. Loved that movie, even though it toyed with the truth as well. Harvey WAS Houdini in that and he was also very likable.

    For the record, you do an incredible job covering the behind the scenes aspects of the Houdini movies!

  7. Thanks, Dean. :)

    Yeah, I'm almost positive Guy/Harry says something about Bess not being able to join him on tour to the manager character, or maybe it's the other way around. Yes, the underwater escape at the start is pretty cool.

    I've been on a jag of watching Houdini's own movies lately. I like to really study his movements and try to read his lips. Last night watching Haldane I thought I could SEE his accent on one line.

  8. I had a look at DDA for us. I was half right. 24 mins in when Mary is going through Houdini's room, she finds a photo of Bess by his bed and reads the inscription out loud -- "your little darling wife, Bess." What's interesting is it isn't a photo of the real Bess, but some actress. Who is this mystery actress who "played" Bess. I need to add her to my list. :)

  9. Mystery Bess with pic added to my "The women who have played Bess" story.