Saturday, July 22, 2023

Houdini 1953 A Strange Edit


I love the movie, HOUDINI, with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. It's a very fictionalized version of Houdini's life. Yet, even the fictional stuff has a grain of truth to it. But my one single issue with the movie, comes early on. It's very bad edit in the movie, and the only one of it's kind in the whole film.

Houdini and Bess are in bed, it's their wedding night. Houdini is working on a new trick. He gets Bess to climb inside a box. She sticks HER legs out one her face and hands out the other side. Houdini closes the lid. The camera doesn't cut away. He steps out of the room and back in carrying a large saw for cutting lumber. Keep in mind the camera doesn't cut away. . Tony Curtis lifts the saw and begins to cut, he is about HALF WAY DOWN. Janet Leigh screams! The saw is about to her waist. She screams! THEN 

there is a very abupt edit.....And now the blade is apparently through Bess/Janet light.

Now, one of the reason's I love this movie is that Tony Curtis preforms most of the magic himself. In the opening scene, he performs a vanishing Milk pitcher routine. He follows with an ashes routine. Later he does an escape from some Hamburg 8 cuffs. He and Janet Leigh actually present the Metamorphosis routine. They do a broom suspension routine. There is a clip of Tony levitating a woman, another clip of Tony shooting a ribbon through Bess. Tony does a wonderful Steel Straight jacket escape, there are other routines that were filmed but that got cut from the movie. There are still photos of Tony doing effects that never made it into the movie. Surprisingly, there is even a still photo of Tony making an Elephant Disappear. It appears as a photo from the cover of a newspaper. 

Some of the routines are presented straight through. Some routines have multiple edits. But ONLY the Sawing routine has a very abrupt edit. I often wondered if something happened during the filming and maybe that was why they cut. I also wondered if the reason for edit was they faked the scene. But as it turns out, the only thing that happened visually was the blade moves upwards suddenly and then back down. Perhaps there was an audio issue which was it was cut the way it was. 

And then the solution or the answer. It was found in the trailer for the movie. The entire cutting/sawing scene is there, with no abrupt edits. And you can see for yourself there is nothing unusual that happens except for the sawing going high and then back down. It's clearly the same shot as the movie because a dark section of the front board, matches the one from the scene. BUT it wasn't the only time they shot the scene apparently. The promo photo at the top of the page is from the scene, but a different take. On this take, the front panel that Tony saws through is different. This is the sign that the scene was reshot or that there were multiple shots. 

Check out the video below...

The exact spot is at 40seconds into the video...

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