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Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: August 29th, 2014, 5:26 pm
by Richard Kaufman

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: August 29th, 2014, 7:03 pm
by Chris Aguilar
Having read each and every one of those reviews, my interest in watching this miniseries has now tanked.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: August 30th, 2014, 12:07 pm
by JohnCox
I'm holding back my own review until Wednesday, but I will have a "fact check" of each night after it airs.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: August 31st, 2014, 5:37 am
by observer
I've only seen still pictures, so just wondering - does the actor go through the entire thing with that "forlorn waif" expression on his face?

Sure is different from the iconic image of Houdini weighed down with chains but glaring at the camera with ferocious determination.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: August 31st, 2014, 4:41 pm
by houdinisghost
Houdini had a love affair with the camera. In some of the reproductions of Houdini posters and photos, Adrien Brody seems to look away, while Houdini looks right at you. Nothing left to do but see it.
I have to see the new film "the Last of Robin Hood" in which Kevin Kline (another Oscar winning actor) plays a dying Errol Flynn because my friend Sean Flynn is in it as a movie grip who flirts with Beverly Aadland, Flynn's young lover. I hope the film is fair to both Flynn and Aadland. The movie perpetuates the myth that Flynn died from carousing, alcohol and drugs. Those were an attempt at an antidote to the slow death he suffered from tuberculosis. His fellow TB victims, Robert Louis Stevenson and Doc Holliday self-medicated in similar fashion.
Anyway, on to Houdini.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: August 31st, 2014, 5:03 pm
by Leonard Hevia
The trailers that John Cox posted on his Wild About Harry blog look interesting. The actress who played Bess did a heck of a lot of research with the help of John and Tom Interval to learn more about her. There appear to be embellishments in Houdini's life that never happened, as in other Houdini biopics. Since Houdini created some of his own to add color to his life, he might approve.

Patrick, is Sean Flynn Errol's grandson? I know that Errol Flynn's son was killed in the Vietnam War working as a journalist. He rode a scooter in the jungle with a friend and was never seen again. I also know that Flynn's grandson did some modeling ads for Ralph Lauren about 15 years ago.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 1st, 2014, 11:26 am
by Richard Kaufman
And the New York Times (Not Good):
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/01/arts/ ... egion&_r=0

The writer seems to think Adrien Brody is a better actor than he actually is!

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 1st, 2014, 1:01 pm
by Eric Fry
Screenwriter Meyer's father wrote the psychoanalytic book, so we're stuck with a lot of those ideas conveyed by a voiceover from Houdini, of all people. But in real life Houdini was an unreflective person. Paradoxically, that gave him the strength to be himself, a force of nature with no doubts. Ruthless, egomaniacal, energetic, bold, a fighter.

With that psychoanalytic theme in the TV movie, no wonder the producers thought Brody, who looks like a fearful emaciated basset hound, was suited for the role. They seem to have confused Houdini with Kafka.

And for all their interest in psychology, the producers don't have the insight to realize that keeping the tricks' mystery has a much stronger effect on the audience than revealing the methods.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 1st, 2014, 1:45 pm
by Jonathan Townsend
Houdini as one of characters of a Multiple, another being Franz Kafka... now we're getting somewhere. Did they leave messages to each other via Ouija board?

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 1st, 2014, 2:41 pm
by Jeff Haas
I would say that that SF Gate's review is "mediocre". Look at the Little Man in his seat at the top of the review...he's not clapping or jumping out of his seat, he's just sitting up. It's a 3 on a scale of 5.

Here's a guide to the images:
http://austinkleon.com/2008/09/19/the-little-man/

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 1st, 2014, 2:58 pm
by Richard Kaufman
Nicholas Meyer has written some fabulous screenplays: "Seven Percent Solution," "Time After Time," and Star Trek flicks 2 and 6. So, at least the story had a chance of being well written.

I agree with the previous poster: Brody seems badly miscast. Of course, casting someone to play a real person who was a force of nature is extraordinarily difficult. Brian Keith pulled off playing Teddy Roosevelt in The Wind and the Lion.

I always thought Bob Hoskins would have made a good Houdini.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 1st, 2014, 3:05 pm
by Bill Mullins
I never saw FairyTale. Was Harvey Keitel any good in the role? He seems much more of a match than Adrien Brody.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 1st, 2014, 3:26 pm
by Eric Fry
I thought Keitel was good. I think Keitel talked to Dorothy Young, who knew Houdini offstage and worked with him on stage. Keitel probably did other research as well. The movie in general was well done.

Because Keitel's character interacts with children, the movie shows a kinder side of Houdini. Kindness toward children and animals was one side of Houdini.

The movie also reproduces an off-stage demonstration of apparent psychic powers that occurred in real life. The event is related on page 128 and 129 of Christopher's "Houdini A Pictorial Biography."

As an aside, the movie shows something I hadn't previously pictured: Houdini in the exaggerated makeup necessary for the stage. It never occurred to me what he would really look like on stage.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 1st, 2014, 11:58 pm
by JohnCox

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 2nd, 2014, 3:24 am
by Jonathan Pendragon
I missed the first half, but as for the second......

It's a weird combination of source material, some feels like stuff right out of Walter Gibson's book (part fact-part fiction, all we ever talked about was The Shadow) and the Curtis film (inspired by the Walter's book) and the rest forgets the facts all together. The actress who plays Bess is doing a great job with badly written material which as a huge "7 Percent Solution" fan (starring the incomparable Nichol Williamson) I have no explanation. I knew Bess drank and had substance problems late in life, but I never heard about pot, however, she did smoke tobacco. Houdini was teetotaler. I like Brody but Richard makes a good point, it's not Brian Keith as Teddy Roosevelt, one of my favorite bio-pic acting performances, it's tough to play a force of nature well.

Really, really weird, the Rasputin - Houdini scene and for lots of reasons: the brave try at sorting out the accents, correctly Alexandra did have a german accent, but then the cartoon cut out Grigori Rasputin portrayal and the stomach punch (Rasputin would never have put himself in that subordinate a political position and wasn't even known to the royal family at the time Houdini performed for them) no Czar would have knelt before a commoner and although the bell story has been told (by the likes of Orson Welles) I doubt a high powered rifle could make a giant bell create that sound at that distance or any distance, and how did they get the rifle anywhere near a position that could have endangered the royal family? However, having never tried, I can't be sure about the sound, clearly a Myth Busters challenge.

The bridge jump from a height Houdini never came close to into an ice hole that when he did jump into, he didn't jump, he was lowered on a cable, was also jarring to me because I have jumped from that height (I was a stuntman and competed in diving in high school and college) but never shackled. The impact from that height in shackles? Watch the footage of his actual jumps. He doesn't go deep and he is up fast.

The spy plot is farce.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 2nd, 2014, 4:20 am
by Jonathan Pendragon
PS
Since I did miss the first half tonight, question, was there a depiction of Metamorphosis?

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 2nd, 2014, 12:17 pm
by Eric Fry
Funny you asked. They did the Pendragons' presentation of Metamorphosis. And for that matter, they did Doug Hennings' presentation of the Water Torture Cell.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 2nd, 2014, 10:47 pm
by JohnCox

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 2nd, 2014, 11:52 pm
by Jonathan Pendragon
I watched the first half which was filled with anachronisms including the foulard they use in Metamorphosis, which is closer to mine than the tent Houdini used. I have mentioned before that no one knows who created the rectangular/circular foulard that was omnipresent when I first began performing the illusion. I have seen a solid staff and curtain used, but only after the foulard I designed in the mid 80s was introduced. Mine uses two wooden dowels that are separated so that you could "bend" the foulard around the trunk for better cover. A straight rod has to be very long or the illusion has to be played way upstage.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 3rd, 2014, 8:08 am
by Bob Farmer
I watched the first part for 30 minutes and then decided to do something more entertaining, arranging the coffee mugs in the cupboard.

Did they leave out the part in the where Houdini is related to the murderer Caryl Chessman? I may be remembering that wrong--but I do remember a book about a murderer that had a chapter entitled something like, "Kin to the magician," in which it was claimed there was a relationship.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 3rd, 2014, 6:06 pm
by JohnCox

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 3rd, 2014, 6:35 pm
by Kevin Connolly
Bob...No mention of Gary Gilmore being related to Houdini.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 3rd, 2014, 6:36 pm
by Brad Jeffers
The Houdini Bio-Pic was based on this ...

Image

It should have been based on this ...

Image

It seems like it was based on this ...

Image

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 3rd, 2014, 10:45 pm
by Kevin Connolly
Brad gets the today's Winning Post Award! :D

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 4th, 2014, 1:10 am
by Leonard Hevia
Kevin Connolly wrote:Brad gets the today's Winning Post Award! :D


Hear, hear. Brad articulated my thoughts about this film in just 3 images. The fate of Houdini in the last illustration should be reserved for the writer, director, and producers of this debacle.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 4th, 2014, 7:53 am
by Bob Farmer
Kevin:

Now I remember--it's in The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer, the story of Gary Gilmore.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Gilmore

"The theme of illegitimacy, real or imagined, was common in the Gilmore family. Fay Gilmore, Frank's mother, once told Bessie that Frank's father was a famous magician who passed through Sacramento, where she was living. Bessie researched this at the library and came to the conclusion that Frank was the illegitimate son of Harry Houdini. Houdini was only sixteen years old in 1890, the year of Frank Gilmore's birth, and did not begin his career as a magician until the following year. Mikal Gilmore believes the story to be false, but has stated that both his father and mother believed it."

Bob

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 4th, 2014, 1:20 pm
by Kevin Connolly
Norman Mailer was pretty whacked when it came to this bs. He was out in the Twilight Zone with it.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 4th, 2014, 4:54 pm
by JohnCox
Leonard Hevia wrote:
Kevin Connolly wrote:Brad gets the today's Winning Post Award! :D


Hear, hear. Brad articulated my thoughts about this film in just 3 images. The fate of Houdini in the last illustration should be reserved for the writer, director, and producers of this debacle.


Brilliant, Brad. :)

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 4th, 2014, 10:23 pm
by Bill Mullins
From Ken Levine's [url=http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2014/09/[censored].html]blog[/url]:

Labor Day ratings: HOUDINI whipped SAVE BY THE BELL’S ass. But that’s understandable. HOUDINI was on THE HISTORY CHANNEL and SBTB was on one of those fringe networks – NBC I think it was.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 5th, 2014, 11:38 am
by Richard Kaufman
After reading all the bad stuff about this movie, I decided that the last thing in the world I want to waste my time on is a lousy movie about Houdini that's going to put a chill on any other Houdini project what was in the pipeline (because that's the way Hollywood thinks).

So I cancelled my order on amazon! :)

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 5th, 2014, 12:03 pm
by Bill Marquardt
The very first movie I ever saw in a theatre was Houdini with Tony Curtis. I was about four years old. For a long time I vividly remembered the scene of him swimming under the ice looking for a way out. At that time, in my mind, I thought he was a criminal (in the movie) who was being punished. Hey, I was four.

When I first read about Houdini later in my life, I was shocked to learn that he often used hidden keys to open the locks.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 5th, 2014, 12:21 pm
by Matthew Field
Part 1 of the mini-series airs on Channel 4 in the U.K. Sunday Sept 7 at 8 PM.

Matt Field

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 5th, 2014, 12:22 pm
by Dustin Stinett
Hey Uncle Matt: Spoiler alert ... he dies at the end.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 6th, 2014, 6:01 pm
by Leonard Hevia
Bill Marquardt wrote:
When I first read about Houdini later in my life, I was shocked to learn that he often used hidden keys to open the locks.


How else Bill? You didn't believe he used real magic did you? If you read Doug Henning's book, you will find a newspaper article from the San Francisco Examiner titled Expose of Houdini's Trunk and Handcuff Trick by a Professor Benzon. A very amusing read but be aware that the print is rather small.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 6th, 2014, 8:36 pm
by Richard Kaufman
Now there's a man who who made good use of his anal cavity!

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 7th, 2014, 12:07 am
by Bill Marquardt
Leonard Hevia wrote:
How else Bill? You didn't believe he used real magic did you?


I was talking about when I was still a kid. I was maybe eleven. But no, even then I didn't think he escaped locks by magic, but that he had some arcane knowledge of how to open them. Using keys would have been cheating. :)

I remember reading that he could grasp keys with his toes from a hidden spot after his feet had been inspected, and that sometimes Bess would give him a kiss for luck and pass a key through their lips. Hopefully, not one that came from the site that Richard suggests.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 7th, 2014, 12:55 pm
by JohnCox
You know, even though I gave this miniseries a pretty tough review, I think some are piling on a bit and bashing it a little too gleefully. Really, had they gotten the facts of his early success even remotely right and cut all that stupid spy junk, I would have stayed onboard and probably ranked this miniseries pretty high. I really enjoyed Part II. At moment, I'm not sure where to rank it. Below Houdini (53) and The Great Houdinis to be sure. But it's above Young Harry Houdini and Death Defying Acts. It's battling for the middle with the TNT movie. I'll hold back my final judgment for when I see the extended edition on DVD.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 7th, 2014, 1:47 pm
by JohnCox
BTW, was anyone else shocked at how this was clearly adapted from The Secret Life of Houdini, but credit was given to Houdini A Mind in Chains by Bernard Meyer (father of the screenwriter)? Houdini's spy work and Bess's pot smoking is ONLY to be found in the Kalush/Sloman book (and there are many other examples). I really hope Bill and Ratso got some money for this in lieu of what should have been a credit. If they didn’t, time to go after History/A+E Networks and Lionsgate.

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 7th, 2014, 2:15 pm
by AJM
It's on here tonight.

Just saw a still of Adrian Brody as Houdini - he looks ridiculous , a terrible casting in my view.

I won't be watching.

Andrew

Re: Houdini Bio-Pic Reviews Start Rolling In

Posted: September 7th, 2014, 4:25 pm
by houdinisghost
I was one of the people Harvey Keitel hired to consult with him about Houdini. He took some magic instruction from Charlie Reynolds. I brought in Stanley Palm. He paid us handsomely. Harvey asked me, "How did Houdini move? How did he make an entrance?"
I said, "There's one person on earth who can tell you." and Stanley put him on the phone with Dorothy Young. Then, the next day, Stanley, my son Kieran, and I drove down to Ocean Grove, New Jersey and picked Dorothy up and delivered her to Harvey's offices in Tribeca.
As I recall, Stanley and I stepped out and left them alone. When we checked back, I peeked around a half-closed door and Dorothy and Harvey were moving around each other in a kind of dance as she showed him how Houdini moved.
http://www.houdinisghost.com/doroth.html
When were all back in Harvey's rehearsal space, Dorothy whispered to Stanley, "Won't he make a wonderful Houdini?"
When I first brought Stanley Palm in I was explaining how thoroughly Harvey researched his roles, "When he played the pimp in Taxi Driver, he found a real pimp and brought him into the Actors' Studio to teach him pimp behavior."
When our job was done and Stanley and I were walking away with fat checks in our pockets, i couldn't resist. I said to Stanley, "I wonder what he payed the pimp."
To Eric Fry: Kalush proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that the "Professor Benzon" expose of Houdni's handcuff and trunk was written by Houdini himself and planted in the S. F. Examiner. Houdini returned to San Francisco the following week for another week at the S. F. Orpheum. The day before his run began, he walked into the offices of the Examiner, stripped naked, had himself locked in 8 pairs of cuffs and 8 legirons and put in a closet. He was out in two minutes with the manacles interlocked.
It was a publicity stunt that defined Houdini's instinctive showmanship. And he set it all up without anyone but his friend, Professor Benzon, getting wise to it.