Reviews for Houdini ( 1953 ) 1080p

The greatest showman

By: TheLittleSongbird
'Houdini' was partly seen because Harry Houdini was a very interesting man and his life, cut short too early in tragic circumstances from peritonitis/complications from a ruptured appendix (although it is also believed it was caused by being punched in the abdomen), even more fascinating.

Found myself quite by accident seeing a number of Tony Curtis films and it's turned into something of a quest. It is interesting to see Curtis and then-wife Janet Leigh together on film, and 'Houdini' is the first of five pairings. It certainly serves them well and one can see what the appeal is. While 'Houdini' is very well made and entertaining on its own as a film, the man himself and his life, of which the film is very loosely based upon, are not as well served.

A longer length would have benefitted, so that the script could have gone into more detail and depth with what is presented while also including more. Houdini's life was much more colourful and interesting than this intriguing and fun if slightly "cliff notes" depiction, and with a longer length the film would have been more detailed and not as rushed structurally.

There are also liberties, some of them not hurting the film much but the more dramatic licenses do and distort a bit, especially the over-dramatic ending. Didn't see the point of the change, it would have been more moving if the truth was intact.

On the other hand, Curtis puts a lot of energy and passion to the title role and his performance is one of his best early ones. Leigh is incredibly charming and their romantic chemistry sparkles and moves, one does feel like they're in love. This is something very important, seeing as this is an element of the story that is focused on sizeably. Torin Thatcher is particularly good of the solid supporting cast.

Furthermore, 'Houdini' looks great, the sumptuous period detail and vibrant colours are a feast for the eyes. The story moves efficiently and still remains absorbing and easy to engage and identify with. The script is thoughtful, is a lot of fun and doesn't fall into cloying sentimentality, with elements of Houdini's life that do really intrigue (i.e. Houdini's campaign against anything supernatural) and the stunts/escapes are genuinely awe-inspiring and suspenseful, some edge of your seat stuff there. The characters engage, Houdini is a source of admiration and inspiration, and the direction shows visual and dramatic skill.

Summing up, good but not great, Curtis, Leigh, their chemistry, the visuals and stunts make it a worthwhile watch. 7/10 Bethany Cox

Charming classic with a theatrical flair

By: brendanjames-41697
A romantic film in colour-popping technicolour about the magic of storytelling and illusionism. Tony Curtis as Houdini... wasn't sure at first but it works with Janet Leigh as his wife - so for star power alone it sells its message.

I chose this film on Netflix having heard of Houdini through a Kate Bush song of the same name. Because I know the song quite well, I was kind of comparing the narrative of this film to the narrative of the song as I was watching, and I felt that the two do compliment each other well. So I would definitely recommend listening to Kate's less glossy spin on it after watching this (any excuse, though I'm pretty sure she was watching this when she chose to write the song from the perspective of Houdini's wife, Bess).

The real star, in my opinion, was the set design. It does well to keep us under spell of theatricality, and while it's never going to be Moulin Rouge it does hold up well in this department. Janet Leigh wears some wonderful period/showgirl costumes, and Tony Curtis gets ample an oppurtunity show off the fact that he's been working out, so there is eye candy galore.

Plot-wise, it's consistent - each scene has a narrative purpose and the screenwriter balances the plight of a showman versus the relationship with his wife well. Some excellent examples of coded suggestivity throughout the first half. The stage tricks are authentic and build suspense well.

Overall, a great pick for a Sunday afternoon classic. While this film won't change your life (like Moulin Rouge did for me), it's well made, well produced, interesting enough and you might learn something about the craft of stage-magic.

Now get out of that!

By: Lejink
Here's a bright, colourful, entertaining if not always factually accurate biopic of the great escapologist Harry Houdini. Tony Curtis plays the part with great brio as you'd expect and is well supported by his fretful but usually supportive wife played coincidentally by his real life wife of the time Janet Leigh.

Of course being a Hollywood screen biography, it plays pretty loosely with the facts, most obviously with his apparent death scene in the last reel just after he's broken out of his not-quite death- defying water torture escape. Maybe the director thought that the reputed story of a young student punching him in the stomach unawares was a bit tawdry but this substitute conclusion seemed over-melodramatic in the extreme.

Otherwise, while I'm no expert on Houdini's career I did recognise other familiar incidents in the entertainer's life, including breaking out of a London prison, the straitjacket escape suspended outside a New York skyscraper and the plunge under the ice sealed in a safe although you have to wonder how he could possibly miss the big hole cut in the ice right above him through which the safe was dropped. The movie also takes in his interest in spiritualism as he attempts to connect with his mother in the afterlife after her death.

These quibbles apart, the movie was energetic and highly watchable as befits its subject. Curtis and Leigh make a handsome couple and the sets variously including recreations of a carnival show- ground, jail and vaudeville theatres are also easy on the eye.

In short, this film was fine escapist entertainment - sorry!

Not Much Substance Here (A Product Of Its Times)

By: zkonedog
After being introduced to this movie as a child by my father, I remembered it being quite a spectacular. To a child's eyes, it probably was. However, from an adult perspective, this is the epitome of the "style over substance" Hollywood that ruled the decade in which it was made (1950s).

For a basic plot summary, this film tells the rough story of Harry Houdini (Tony Curtis), known to this day as the greatest magician of all-time. His wife, Bess (Janet Leigh), also plays a key role, as the two sometimes work together while other times are at odds over Harry's magic-fueled obsessions. This film follows the rough chronological timeline of Houdini's life, but to say that it is an accurate portrayal would be a disservice, as it really mashes a lot of things together and is just plain wrong on other accounts.

Simply put, "Houdini" is a product of its times, back when movies weren't supposed to be anything "deep". Families went to movies together, so they had to have a broad (which often equaled bland) appeal. The tale of Houdini is an utterly fascinating one, but in this portrayal it is more about letting Curtis be his charming self and putting Leigh in as many fancy dresses to show off her curves as possible.

So, if you are old enough to have watched "Houdini" around its theater date, this movie might hold a good deal of nostalgic value to you. It also seems to be great for children, as it is quite colorful and the action is always moving forward. However, if you are looking for even a hair of substantial material about Houdini and his life, please look elsewhere. Only a few scenes (mostly in the final 15 minutes of the picture) convey any real, heartfelt emotion. Otherwise, this is all about the "pomp and circumstance".

Not Houdini, but Entertaining

By: Hitchcoc
I saw this many years ago and now recently. Having read a great deal about Harry Houdini, the complexities of the man were pretty much overlooked in this film. Not much was made of the stocky, feisty, combative guy. We are mostly looking at his talent for escapes. This is is a movie with great suspense and excitement. How could it not be with so many potential catastrophes. Houdini was at war with the metaphysical. This is not covered. His experiences with Conan-Doyle are overlooked. I guess if the movie had not been called Houdini, and some guy with virtually any name were portrayed as the greatest escape artist in the world, it would have been just as exciting. I've always had a little trouble with Curtis's voice and acting style. Still, this is a lot of fun. It just scratches the surface of the character.

Other than the fact that much of it is crap, it IS entertaining.

By: MartinHafer
Too often, films take a fast and loose approach to biopics. So, it didn't surprise me that much of "Houdini" was pure crap. Sadly, however, the discerning viewer is left wondering what is crap and what was really true about Houdini. I investigated a bit and found SOME of the movie was true--such as Houdini playing a wild man at a carnival early in his career. Unfortunately, Houdini's early death had nothing to do with how he died in the film. There is a line by an old magician (Ian Wolfe) who says "It will make you famous BUT it will kill you"--and the rest of the film went about proving that this man was prophetic. However, he was wrong--none of Houdini's tricks killed him! In another example, it made it seem as if the man believed that he would somehow return after death at the end of the picture--while he actually fought throughout his life to expose such things and felt it was all nonsense. So, you really cannot take this film as is a very, very broad view of Houdini's life and many, many liberties were taken with the truth.

Obviously, the film loses a few points for these untruths. However, apart from this, is it entertaining and worth seeing? Maybe. It is nice that Curtis was cast, as although he looked very little like Houdini, his ability to do magic and make the tricks looked good sure helped. It's just too bad you never learn much about him as a person in this portrayal. Not bad---just far from what it should have been, as Houdini's life was amazing (such as his career in films which was never mentioned) and it all is so sensationalized you never really get to know him. A flawed time-passer and that's about all.

Routine, well made bio-pic of the escape master

By: secondtake
Houdini (1953)

You might think this is an odd pairing in an odd biopic, Tony Curtis as the brilliant escape artist and Janet Leigh as his assistant and wife. But it works. Yes, it is a somewhat glitzy, and totally entertaining version of the man's life, but it is solid and well done. And the colors are dazzling throughout. There's no escaping that.

Curtis is a true star already, and he is his usual charming self. I don't have a clue what Houdini was like in person, but there is a suspicion while watching that Curtis keeps it all a little light and breezy. In fact the whole movie is kind of airy, even when the young couple struggles to get their lives going. Leigh is cheerfully supportive, most of the time, and ends up in a formulaic role. Luckily she gives it enough energy to make it work.

When it comes down to it, there is little to say without comparing this to Houdini's known biography. And in fact the movie keeps pretty close to what is widely known. But of course the details are all a mush in order to make a kind of fairy tale of the whole thing. That's okay as long as you see it as such.

If you want lots of detail on all this you should find the TCM article, the long one, on the web. I hope they'll forgive me stealing this one paragraph:

--Casting newlyweds Curtis and Leigh was a publicity coup for Paramount, as the public was fascinated by the young marrieds and was eager to see them together on screen. Both were under contract to other studios, so Paramount had to negotiate loan-outs, Curtis from Universal, Leigh from MGM. As a result of the complex contracts, according to Curtis's autobiography, "The studios got a lot of money for it, but we just got our regular salaries."--

This is a true Technicolor job in the old academy 4:3 format, one of the last before widescreen swept the industry in the next year. Behind the camera is the well respected Ernest Laszlo ("Impact," "D.O.A.," and "Stalag 17") who does a great job with the camera but for some reason lit everything brightly and evenly. The result is lack of mood--and many of the scenes are begging for mood, like the flea-bitten carnivals. There are some notable sequences, like the underwater stuff, and the magic tricks required some photographic slight of hand as well.

So director George Marshall, known for cranking out lots of well made if unimaginative films, has another. It's good, and if you like the two main actors or the subject--or all three--you'll really enjoy it.

Amusing though partially fictionalized biography based on the greatest escapist

By: ma-cortes
Spectacular biography of famed escape artist dealing with the Great Houdini. At the outset, he had little success he performed in dime sideshows, and even doubled as "The Wild Man .At the same the young Houdini (Tony Curtis) enters into a passionate affair with a beautiful girl. Harry met fellow performer Wilhelmina Beatrice (Bess) Rahner (Janet Leigh), whom he married. Bess acts in the shows , which became known as "The Houdinis." For the rest of Houdini's performing career, Bess would work as his stage assistant. During Harry Houdini's tour of Britain in 1926, the master escapist realizes a highly publicized show. Within months, he was performing at the top vaudeville houses in the country. In 1900, his manager arranged for Houdini to tour Europe. After some days of unsuccessful interviews in London, Houdini managed to interest a manager of the Alhambra Theatre. He gave a demonstration of escape from handcuffs at Scotland Yard, and succeeded in baffling the police so effectively that he was booked at the show.

It's a story with Harry Houdini, arguably the greatest illusionist and escape artist of our time. This is a mostly fictionalized biopic of Houdini's life, was made. It contains thrills, suspense , emotions, a romantic story and is quite entertaining . This film, well played by Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, has contributed, in part, to several misconceptions about Houdini's life. For example, it portrays the cause of Houdini's death to be the magician's failure to escape from the Chinese Water Torture Cell. (Curtis's Houdini agrees to seek medical attention "when the tour is over.") Houdini actually developed the Chinese Torture Cell trick fourteen years before he died and performed it numerous times. The motion picture is finely directed by Geoorge Marshall.

The picture is partially based on facts , the real events were the following : Houdini's "big break" came in 1899 when he met manager Martin Beck in rural Woodstock, Illinois. Impressed by Houdini's handcuffs act, Beck advised him to concentrate on escape acts and booked him on the Orpheum vaudeville circuit. Within months, he was performing at the top vaudeville houses in the country. In 1900, Beck arranged for Houdini to tour Europe. After some days of unsuccessful interviews in London, Houdini managed to interest Dundas Slater, then manager of the Alhambra Theatre. He gave a demonstration of escape from handcuffs at Scotland Yard, and succeeded in baffling the police so effectively that he was booked at the Alhambra for six months.Houdini became widely known as "The Handcuff King." He toured England, Scotland, the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Russia. In each city, Houdini would challenge local police to restrain him with shackles and lock him in their jails. In many of these challenge escapes, Houdini would first be stripped nude and searched. In Moscow, Houdini escaped from a Siberian prison transport van. Houdini claimed that, had he been unable to free himself, he would have had to travel to Siberia, where the only key was kept. In Cologne, he sued a police officer, who alleged that he made his escapes via bribery. Houdini won the case when he opened the judge's safe (he would later say the judge had forgotten to lock it). He would free himself from jails, handcuffs, chains, ropes, and straitjackets, often while hanging from a rope in plain sight of street audiences. Because of imitators, on January 25, 1908, Houdini put his "handcuff act" behind him and began escaping from a locked, water-filled milk can. The possibility of failure and death thrilled his audiences. Houdini also expanded repertoire with his escape challenge act, in which he invited the public to devise contraptions to hold him. Brewers challenged Houdini to escape from a barrel after they filled it with beer in Scranton, PA and other cities. Many of these challenges were prearranged with local merchants in what is certainly one of the first uses of mass tie-in marketing. Rather than promote the idea that he was assisted by spirits, as did the Davenport Brothers and others, Houdini's advertisements showed him making his escapes via dematerializing, although Houdini himself never claimed to have supernatural powers.Poster promoting Houdini taking up the challenge of escaping an "extra strong and large traveling basket" . In 1912, Houdini introduced perhaps his most famous act, the Chinese Water Torture Cell, in which he was suspended upside-down in a locked glass-and-steel cabinet full to overflowing with water. The act required that Houdini hold his breath for more than three minutes. Houdini performed the escape for the rest of his career. Despite two Hollywood movies depicting Houdini dying in the Torture Cell, the act had nothing to do with his death. Throughout his career, Houdini explained some of his tricks in books written for the magic brotherhood. In Handcuff Secrets (1909), he revealed how many locks and handcuffs could be opened with properly applied force, others with shoestring. Other times, he carried concealed lockpicks or keys, being able to regurgitate small keys at will. When tied down in ropes or straitjackets, he gained wiggle room by enlarging his shoulders and chest, moving his arms slightly away from his body, and then dislocating his shoulders.For most of his career, Houdini was a headline act in vaudeville. For many years, he was the highest-paid performer in American vaudeville. One of Houdini's most notable non-escape stage illusions was performed at New York's Hippodrome Theater, when he vanished a full-grown elephant (with its trainer) from the stage, beneath which was a swimming pool. In the final years of his life (1925/26), Houdini launched his own full-evening show, which he billed as "3 Shows in One: Magic, Escapes, and Fraud Mediums Exposed".

Right Cast But This one Cries for a Remake

By: DKosty123
Tony Curtis was the proper person to play Harry Houdini when this movie was made. He had the right attitude. Janet Leigh, his wife in real life then, was outstanding as Bess Houdini and the sparks between them show on this film. To me the problem is the script.

The real Houdini's life was much more interesting than the points of his life presented here. The story covers some highlights of Harry's life, and a little of the special relationship with his mom. It totally leaves out Harry's brother, the great Hardine. It doesn't get into the barn storming career or the great tricks Houdini did enough.

The film also fails script wise to show how well Erich Weiss promoted himself enough. I think the script was designed for Curtis & Leigh and misses the best parts of Harry's life. From what I have seen and read about Houdini, a much more interesting story is there to be told. This story does not tell it entirely.

I am glad they tried to do what they did here. For Curtis & Leigh fans this is a great showcase. If it were to be remade, there are more highlights of Houdini's amazing life that could be written to make a better film. I'd challenge Hollywood to tackle that. For now, this is the best we've got, but I have to wonder what could have been with a better script.

Great Entertainment

By: Michael_Elliott
Houdini (1953)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

Highly entertaining film has Tony Curtis playing Harry Houdini, the legendary escape artist. We see Houdini's early life in the circus, the meeting of his future wife (Janet Leigh) and some of his most famous tricks. It goes without saying that a lot of things are made up in the film, including the bizarre ending, which changes how Houdini died. That one change never made much sense to me as it's pretty common knowledge how the man died but outside of that this is an incredibly entertaining movie that features a pretty standard story but a remarkable performance by Curtis. When I say standard story I'm meaning that the screenplay really doesn't try too hard to get into the mind of Houdini or tell us who he was. Instead of giving us much story depth we instead get to see countless tricks being performed by Curtis and Leigh. Everyone knows that the two were married in real life and that certainly rings true as they have no problems playing husband and wife here. Leigh is very good in her role, which is pretty much just a supporting one but Curtis is where the true magic is. Even though he's one of the most recognizable actors in the history of cinema there isn't a second in this film where I didn't see him as Houdini. Curtis does a brilliant job at transforming himself and he even looks very good while performing the various stunts in the film. I'm not sure how much work he actually did but all of the tricks look very real with the exception of the scene where he cuts Leigh in half. There are many dramatic moments in the film full of suspense and this is true in the best sequence where Houdini is performing above the Detroit River when the ropes break and sends him through the ice. We then get a long sequence with him under the ice trying to find his way out. If people are wanting a hard look bio of the man then they'd be recommended to get a book because they aren't going to find anything here. If they want to see an excellent performance with the master's tricks being performed then this film offers that along with a lot of entertainment.

The Magic Standard

By: bkoganbing
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.

Oh dear, seems that people were expecting a definitive bio.

By: Spikeopath
It is what it is, namely a smashing piece of entertainment loosely based on a fabulous entertainer of days gone by.

The set up is very tidy as we see Houdini in his early days before he was an auditorium filler, we get a nice introduction to his interest in tricks and of course his romance with his sweetheart Bess (a lovely Janet Leigh). We then follow his career arc and get involved with his ego and the ever lasting pursuit of pleasing the audience that we now know leads to a dreadful conclusion. The set pieces are OK and the story from the page is handled very well, Tony Curtis shows both his best and worse sides in this, on one hand he is a wholesome handsome devil may care entertainer, yet on the other hand during scenes where he is one on one with another (notably Leigh), he hams like the front counter in the Butchers Shop.

This was the first time I had watched this since about 1990, and the thing that really hits home to me even now is that come the finale, I'm still hoping the great entertainer lives, I believe he will survive that final trick, and regardless of how accurate the film is, what I do know is that the film and its characters have engaged me from the off, job done. 8/10

Super glossy, super fictionalized bio pic...

By: moonspinner55
The story of master magician Harry Houdini (1874?1926) becomes a glossy star-vehicle for Tony Curtis in the lead--and though the facts of Houdini's life are lumped right together with the Hollywood dross (as if this movie magazine-styled spread were one big true-life story), one is drawn in by Curtis' apparent commitment to the role. Director George Marshall stages some exciting set-pieces and a nice romance ensues between Tony's Houdini and assistant Bess, played by Curtis' real-life spouse Janet Leigh (doing appealing work). Philip Yordan adapted Harold Kellock's book, and the results are (surprisingly) entertaining despite all the requisite corn and clich├ęs. **1/2 from ****

It led me to being tied up, handcuffed, and put in a strait jacket

By: rich-826
A very enjoyable movie, though full of enough holes to occasionally provoke a snicker or two. Tony Curtis and his wife Janet Leigh performed all of the escapes in the movie, coached by professional magicians and escape artists. When I saw this movie as a kid, I got interested in escape routines-- I had my brothers tie me to a chair, which I escaped from two out of three times (I would have escaped from it the third time, but my mom saw me struggling to escape from her antique dining room chair and untied me). I bought 'escape' handcuffs, and then learned how to pick the lock in a pair of cheap handcuffs. When I was older, a magician friend of mine showed me two different types of strait jackets-- the magicians and a real one. He could escape from either-- I contented myself with the magician's version, which was no easy trick. I wonder which version Tony Curtis used in the movie?

Curtis Gives Another Good Performance

By: ccthemovieman-1
Tony Curtis is almost always good in whomever he plays, and he was fascinating in here as the famous magician "Harry Houdini." Curtis had a number of good roles in his prime. Speaking of "prime," Janet Leigh didn't look too bad in her prime, either: a very pretty lady.

I don't know how accurate this biography was, but I do know that this movie should have been longer. I usually say the opposite about films, but in this case, I would like to have seen more details about his life and death. His failure to communicate with dead - Houdini's misguided belief - wasn't discussed much.

I guess there were a couple of more modern-day films on Houdini, but they must not have been anything much since I never heard about them. Too bad, because a good re-make of this movie might be something to see.

Very, very loosely based on Houdini's actual life

By: pauljcurley
I saw this movie on TV when I was a kid in the 70s and became fascinated with Houdini (I was especially fascinated by the scene where he is trapped under the ice-covered Detroit River).

However, having read the excellent biography by Kenneth Silverman, and seeing the movie again, I realize that it is only very, very loosely based on Houdini's actual life. Very few of the events that are depicted in the movie actually occurred.

Examples (from my memory of the biography) - Houdini did not meet his wife Bess while playing a "Wild Man" in a freak show, he did not take some time off from performing magic to work in a lock manufacturing plant, there was no mystical German magician who Houdini sought out in his European travels, he never had a German personal assistant, and he did not die on stage performing a trick that Bess had asked him not to perform. In addition it does not cover a number of other topics, such as the fact that Houdini was a pioneer aviator.

On the other hand, it gets some basic details right: his close relationship with his mother, his efforts to contact her after death through psychic mediums, and his efforts to expose fraudulent psychics.

On balance, I generally like what they did in terms of weaving a few factual details into an otherwise fictionalized account of Houdini. However anyone seeking to separate myth and fact about Houdini should check out the Silverman biography.

Just in case

By: youwine
What an odd coincidence, just in case you didn't know it: Harry Houdini was born in Budapest, his real name was Weisz Erik (Eric Weisz). Tony Curtis was born to parents both born in Budapest, his real name is Bernard Schwartz. Tony Curtis, nearing his eighties, still speaks Hungarian fluently.

Budapest & Budapest ... Weisz and Schwartz - White and Black.

Though this movie is pure romantic fiction, rather than a biopic, it is thoroughly enjoyable, thanks to Ms. Leigh and Mr. Curtis. (i.e. Houdini wasn't born on Halloween's day but on 24. March in 1874, and he had escaped from the Chinese Torture Chamber a lot of times, and as such, he didn't die the way depicted in this movie - he was killed by a punch on his stomach, a trick he wasn't prepared to)

Still, see this picture if you get a chance: it is colorful and exciting.

Curtis looks terrific as Houdini, the showman and the self-promoter...

By: Nazi_Fighter_David
By the early 1900s, the extraordinary Houdini earned an international reputation for his theatrical tricks and daring feats of extrication from shackles, ropes, handcuffs, and Scotland Yard's jails...

The film depicts Houdini's memorable escape from any pair of handcuffs produced by the audience; the outdoor exhibition, when he allows himself to be hanged upside down from his ankles, suspended from the roof of a high building, in a strait jacket; and, the dramatic act, when he accepts to be shackled with irons and placed in a box that is locked, roped, and submerged in frozen waters...

The film also exposes Houdini's campaign against mind readers, fraudulent mediums and others who claim supernatural powers... Houdini shows a passionate talent for escapology and the film did much to create the 'Water Torture Cell' illusion...

With his pretty-boy looks, Tony Curtis handles the title role with passionate skill... His energetic performance, as the talented and motivated magician, is very good...

With good period atmosphere, but with more attention to romance than to interesting detail, the film is quite enjoyable and colorful...

Janet Leigh does a great job as Houdini's faithful wife...
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