Houdini (1953)


“Drop it. Drop it. It will make you famous, but it will kill you.” – Fante

Number of Times Seen – Twice (Cable in the 90’s and 5 Nov 2020)

Brief Synopsis – Biopic of one of the greatest illusionists and escape artists in the world, Harry Houdini.

My Take on it – This is a film that I saw once on cable years ago and was curious to see what I would think of it after more than two decades.

I didn’t recall anything about the story besides that it starred Tony Curtis in the title role.

This is a very fascinating look at the life of this very mysterious man who became a master escape artist.

This film does a great job showing how his yearning for more and more dangerous and unique stunts propelled his career while also raising the various dangers along the way.

The story shows how his devoted wife (played by his real life wife, Janet Leigh) stood by his side and helped his career advance in ways that he never expected.

Parts of the story feel truncated and even with a nearly 2 hour runtime, things feel too short because so much more could have been said about the various events and benchmarks of his life.

Curtis does a wonderful job in the lead role and makes things seem so realistic.

The chemistry that he and Leigh had off-screen translated well to the screen and we can really believe the relationship between them.

The plot is presented with a very mysterious kind of aura surrounding it and this enhances things even more as the story moves along.

Bottom Line – Fascinating look at the life of this very complex man. The story shows how his yearning to create bigger and more dangerous stunts propelled him along in his career while also raising the danger level at the same time. They do a great job showing how his career progressed with the help of his wife who helped him as much as she could to succeed. The film feels a bit too short and skips around in his life a bit too much along the way. Curtis is superb in the title role and has wonderful chemistry with his co-star Leigh, who had just become his wife in real life.  The film purposely has a very mysterious aura surrounding it and that helps make things even more intriguing to watch unfold. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The studio intended to give top billing to Janet Leigh, who was a bigger name than her co-star Tony Curtis. Leigh insisted on second billing to then-husband Curtis, reflecting the social norms of the time that a married woman’s husband came first and the woman second. (From IMDB)

Rating – Globe Worthy (8/10)

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