A ‘Houdini’ Action-Thriller?

Published 6 years ago by , Updated February 10th, 2012 at 7:24 am,

harry houdini 01 A Houdini Action Thriller?Summit Entertainment has grabbed the rights to a biography by William Kalush and Larry Sloman, entitled The Secret LIfe of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero. To capitalize on the magician’s name, the studio intends to make an action thriller – potentially nothing like the real performer.

Against the views of magic historians, the controversial book painted Houdini as a spy for early British Intelligence as well as being asked to be an adviser to Czar Nicholas II’s court in Russia. Though the book has some details right, he did investigate and debunk psychics and mediums, it also suggests his death was part of a spiritual movement as payback.

The book was published in 2006 and now the feature-film rights have been acquired by Summit Entertainment.

The Hollywood Reporter says the studio is looking to feature a character, part-Indiana Jones and part-Sherlock Holmes, for their flick. Hollywood, no doubt looking to cash-in on the wide recognition of the magician’s name, has once again overlooked aspects that make the stunt performer more theatrical than action/adventure.

Houdini started his magic career in dime museums and sideshows, acting as “the Wild Man” at a circus and doing card tricks but moved on to escape acts. He married a fellow performer, Wilhelmina Beatrice (Bess) Rahner, soon after.

In the beginning, “the Handcuff King” challenged local police to restrain him with the intent of freeing himself without aid. Some of his death dying escapes include: The Chinese Water Torture Cell, a suspended straitjacket, and being buried alive. He also had a movie career: acting, producing, even serving as a special effects consultant. He even spent some time as a pioneering aviator, flying the first controlled powered flight over Australia. In the end, Houdini was a showman – it’s too bad this town wants to make him out as anything other than that.

Is a Houdini-biopic just too much to ask?

Source: THR

TAGS: Houdini
Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Great, now a bunch of people will watch this and think it is actually true and will start talking about how Houdini was some super spy or something…

  2. There is this DTV film about Houdini starring Guy Pearce and Catherine Zeta-Jones. I have not taken a look at it but if someone has, how is it?

  3. Why couldn’t they just invent a fictional character LIKE Houdini and make it look and stylish, and they would have a new franchise? Personally, I, too, would like a biopic more than what they’re selling here.

  4. I’m biased in that long ago I wrote notes for a story I was going to call “Her Majesty’s Spy, Houdini!”

    The concept is a lot of fun and if you read this book you’ll see that Houdini took great pains – both personal and professional to maintain an aura of the superheroic.

    Besides he already starred in several fantastic serials as himself, and I’m certain Houdini never met a killer robot in real life.

  5. @Bill Cunninham
    But enough to be an action/adventure?

    What about something like Howard Hughes-biopic “Aviator” would that be so bad?

  6. Star Trek nerds have their phasers set on stun and GUNSMITH has his caps lock set on ANNOYING.

    Lol, just kidding man. Maybe they shouldn’t get the perfect person for this one and save him for a better movie like an actual biopic.

  7. Houdini’s Death Defying Acts. That is the name of the DTV film I mentioned, just checked it out, really great!
    Would recommend to you guys to check it out, Guy Pearce gives a really good performance as Houdini!
    Man, Guy is so underrated! He should have risen to stardom alongside Crowe after L.A. Confidential! But check out the film, it is good!

  8. I respect Bill Cunningham’s opinion. However, I thought that the books which put forward this theory was not substantiated sufficiently and doesn’t fit the man seen in such superior bios as Kenneth Silverman’s Houdini!!!

    Having said that, this could still be a heck of a fun, early 20th century retro-tech romp. Heck, Houdini was the first man to fly a heavier-than-air craft in Australia, an autodict with a sense of secrecy about his methods. So, it all depends on the talent now… (Coen Bros?)