As promised, here’s the 1953 movie we’ve been building up to all week – “Houdini” in vivid Technicolor majesty. Starring a young Tony Curtis as Houdini, and Janet Leigh as his love interest, the story begins in an 1800’s circus-like side-show. A group of proper teenaged school girls wearing prim uniforms are ushered past stages displaying various human curiosities, including a ‘wild man’ from Africa (also Curtis, in costume). Houdini is instantly attracted to the young girl who chides the ringmaster for whipping the wild man through the cage bars, attempting to stop him from mistreating the poor man.
After only a few meetings, the couple marries, and moves in with Houdini’s mother, to whom he was deeply attached. The film progresses through his jobs in vaudeville, a lock factory, and a successful European tour, where Houdini escapes from a prison cell in Scotland Yard. An especially harrowing scene finds him being lowered in a chained box down into frozen lake waters, when the chain breaks 😦 The box, with Houdini in it, sinks to the bottom of the lake. When he escapes underwater, he cannot find the hole cut into the ice, and nearly dies. Some liberties were taken with the real Houdini’s biographical story, but it’s Hollywood, after all – let the show go on 😀
For you Vintage Gawkers, you’ll love the stylized sets, full of velvet curtains, ornate wallpapers, globed gas lamps, old-fashioned posters and corsetted women in extravagant gowns with wide, matching hats. Indeed, the attention to detail in every scene is rapturously mind boggling.
The first of 10 parts of the movie appears below – to continue watching, simply click the upper left corner screen at the end of each video. They are all in order. Do yourself a favor and expand the movie to full-screen mode, by clicking the icon at the lower right corner of each video panel.
And now, drummmm~rrrrrooool, Please! SO – slip into your favorite flannel pajamas, microwave a big fat bag of buttered popcorn, pour yourself a Gin Rickey and settle in for a colorful and entertaining film 😀