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.
Houdini (1953) 1080p YIFY Movie
Houdini (1953) 1080p
Houdini is a movie starring Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, and Torin Thatcher. The spectacular but tragically short career of magician and illusionist Harry Houdini whose tricks defied explanation and safety.
IMDB: 6.96 Likes
The Synopsis for Houdini (1953) 1080p
The amazing career of master magician Harry Houdini is presented from his beginnings with a carnival "wild man" act to his emergence as an internationally-acclaimed illusionist, From his dramatic escape from a locked safe under the frozen Detroit River to an even more improbable one from a locked cell in Scotland Yard, he never failed to please and astound his audiences. Although Houdini's tricks are achieved through his marvelous physical dexterity and innate sleight-of-hand, he courted death with the hazardous illusions he performed and his compulsive quest to make contact with the spirit world.
The Director and Players for Houdini (1953) 1080p
The Reviews for Houdini (1953) 1080p
Routine, well made bio-pic of the escape masterReviewed bysecondtakeVote: 7/10
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.
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.