Tony Curtis gives a winning performance as the great Houdini. The struggling circus performer who emerged as the world s most captivating magician and escape artist. From his beginnings as a wild man carnival act to the internationally famous feat of escaping from a locked trunk in an ice-jammed river. Houdini captures the amazing life and courage of this fascinating man. Also stars the beautiful Janet Leigh as Houdini s supportive wife. She lovingly stood by his side throughout his legendary career.
Houdini (1953), starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh
If there’s one type of film that Hollywood does extremely poorly, it’s the biography. Whether it’s virtually any biography done by Oliver Stone, or biographies about Buster Keaton, Capone, etc. Hollywood tends to take enormous liberties with the facts in order to make a more entertaining movie. Nowhere is that truer than in Houdini, starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. On the one hand, it’s a very entertaining film, with good performances by the lead actors.
It’s also noteworthy in the film’s attempts at duplicating some of Harry Houdini‘s great escapes. In fact, producer George Pal did no camera tricks. The actors actually learned how to perform the various illusions. However, beyond that, it takes enormous liberties with events in Harry Houdini‘s life, including totally changing how Houdini died. It’s because of this movie that many people have the false impression that Houdini died attempting his water torture escape.
When all’s said and done, Houdini is an entertaining film. Provided that the audience knows that it’s 50% (or more) fiction mixed in with fact. I rate it 2.5 stars out of 5.
Hollywood’s silver screen couple, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, teamed for this 1953 Technicolor entertainment about the life of famed illusionist Harry Houdini. Directed by George Marshall (Destry Rides Again), Houdini traces the fascinating life of the world’s foremost illusionist and escapologist (portrayed by Tony Curtis, Some Like it Hot), from his early years working the Coney Island sideshows, where he’ll meet his future bride Bess (Janet Leigh, Psycho), to career heights performing for dignitaries and royalty across the globe. Houdini’s fame would not lessen his quest for answers to life after death. His search for the answer would eventually lead to his most complex and dangerous performance.
- Meet Me Tonight in Dreamland
- Music by Leo Friedman
- Played during the opening credits
- Played often in the score as the love theme
- The Bell in the Bay
- Written by Preston Sturges
- Sung by Luratti (Billy Bletcher) at Miner’s Hall
- Old Folks at Home, aka “Swanee River“
- Music by Stephen Foster
- Played when the Houdinis are backstage at Miner’s Hall