A typical screen biography, presenting a rather fanciful version of Houdini's life. Production does well by illusions and escapes on which Houdini won his fame, using these tricks to give substance to a plot that uses a backstage formula that follows pat lines. Under George Marshall's direction, story spins along nicely, with occasional emphasis on drama in several of escape sequences to keep interest up. Performances of two stars are likeable, although neither shows any aging in the time span that covers Houdini from 21 to death.
A typical screen biography, presenting a rather fanciful version of Houdini’s life. Production does well by illusions and escapes on which Houdini won his fame, using these tricks to give substance to a plot that uses a backstage formula that follows pat lines. Under George Marshall’s direction, story spins along nicely, with occasional emphasis on drama in several of escape sequences to keep interest up. Performances of two stars are likeable, although neither shows any aging in the time span that covers Houdini from 21 to death.
Screenplay, based on book by Harold Kellock, opens at the turn of the century to find Houdini performing as a ‘wild man’ and magician in Schultz’ Dime Museum in New York. To this amusement spot comes a group of school girls, including Janet Leigh, and Houdini (Tony Curtis) is attracted to her. After an extremely brief courtship, they marry, try an act together, before she persuades him to take a job in a lock factory. Later, after winning a prize at a magicians’ convention, Houdini and his bride go to Europe and he becomes a success with miracle escapes.
Paramount. Dir George Marshall; Producer George Pal; Screenplay Philip Yordan; Camera Ernest Laszlo; Editor George Tomasini; Music Roy Webb Art Dir Hal Pereira, Al Nozaki
(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1953. Running time: 105 MIN.
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