Monday, September 1, 2014

Fact checking HISTORY's Houdini - Night One


After one night, HISTORY's Houdini miniseries starring Adrien Brody is on track to be the least accurate Houdini biopic ever made, and that's saying something. Nicholas Meyer's screenplay freely jettisons fundamental facts to make room for complete fictions. (More on that in my review on Wednesday.) Unfortunately, people believe what they see on TV -- especially when the network is called HISTORY -- so here are some points of clarification:

Did Houdini get trapped under the ice of a frozen river?
Even though Houdini himself would tell the story of being trapped under an ice sheet during a bridge jump, there is no evidence that it ever happened, and Houdini would alter the location and details in various tellings. But he never claimed his mother's voice or any supernatural power led him to the opening in the ice. He found his own way to freedom. (Read: Trapped under the ice with Houdini.)


Did Houdini have issues with his father?
Houdini spoke very highly of his father and honored him his entire life. Any suggestion of "daddy issues" is purely speculative. It is true that Rabbi Weiss lost his job in Appleton for being too "old world" (he didn't speak English), and this plunged the family into poverty. The story of him having to flee Budapest after killing a man in a duel was told by all the Weiss children. Some biographers doubt it as being too far fetched, but duels in Hungary were not unusual in the 1870s. (Read: Who was Houdini's father? New insights.)

Did Houdini run away from home and work with a traveling magician?
While it's true that Ehrich Weiss (the miniseries misspells it as Erich - grrrr) ran away from home when he was 12, he did not work with a traveling magician. This is a fiction seemingly lifted from a 1987 Disney movie called Young Harry Houdini. However, it is true that his interest in magic was inspired by the autobiography of Robert-Houdin, and that he took his name from the famous French conjurer. (Read: Homeless Houdini.)


Did Houdini live in Brooklyn?
The Houdini miniseries shows Harry growing up and later buying a large home in Brooklyn, NY. Not true. The Weiss family lived in a tenement in mid-town Manhattan, and Houdini later bought a large brownstone in Harlem. Likewise, the Weiss family plot is located in Queens, not Brooklyn. (Read: Discovering the home of Houdini.)

Did Houdini meet Bess when they were both performers in Coney Island?
While there are several romanticized stories of how Houdini and Bess met, screenwriter Nicholas Meyer opted for the truth here. Houdini did indeed meet his wife Bess at Coney Island while she was performing as part of an act called The Floral Sisters. They had a whirlwind courtship and married only a week after they had met. (Read: When Harry Met Bessie.)


Did Houdini create the challenge handcuff escape act in a brothel?
Houdini worked to perfect his challenge handcuff act over several years, and may have gotten the idea from an Australian magician named Lewis Paul. While Harry and Bess performed in Dime Museums, Beer Halls, Circuses, and traveling Burlesque shows, there is no record of them ever performing in a brothel. Besides, aren't brothels their own entertainment? (Read: Memories of "Dime Museum Harry".)

Did Houdini perform escapes as The Wild Man from Borneo?
While Houdini did briefly appear as "Projea The Wild Man of Mexico" in the Welsh Bros. circus, it had nothing whatsoever to do with his magic or escape act. Harry and Bess took on many side jobs during their travels with the circus. Houdini quit the Wild Man when he got hit in the eye with a piece of meat thrown into his cage by Clint Newton, ringmaster of the Welsh Bros. Circus.. (Read: Freaks of Octoberfest.)

Did Houdini achieve fame after escaping from a "Johnson County" jail in 1896?
Houdini performed handcuff and jail escapes in various cities across the U.S. in the late 1890s, but they did not bring him recognition beyond that city. The idea that Houdini was "the most famous man in America" by the turn of the century is wildly incorrect. Houdini's fame came only after he was discovered by manager Martin Beck and traveled to England in 1900. There he captured the imagination of Europe. Houdini did not really become a star in America until his return in 1905. (Read: The strolling magician.)


Did Houdini do escapes in the nude?
To prove he concealed no keys or lockpicks, Houdini would strip nude and submit to an examination by a doctor during his jail escapes. But Houdini would also sometimes strip nude on stage during handcuff challenges, and even advertised himself as "Positively the only conjurer in the world who strips stark naked." He once even performed his Milk Can escape au naturale. He had a powerful physique and wasn't afraid to show it off. (Read: Ebay auction dates Houdini's first 'nude')

Did Houdini hire a magic store clerk named Jim Collins to create his effects?
Houdini's chief assistant and mechanic was named Jim Collins and he did have a genius for designing magic and escape effects. However, Houdini did not impulsively hire him out of an Ohio magic store, and Collins was not an American from Georgia. Jim Collins was born in England, possibly Portsmouth, and it was there that Houdini hired him to be his assistant. (Read: The man who kept Houdini's secrets.)


Was the Water Torture Cell Houdini's first major stage escape?
The Water Torture Cell was not Houdini's first major stage escape and certainly not invented in 1900 as shown in the miniseries. The USD, as Houdini called it, was the culmination of many escapes that came before it (including the Milk Can) and first performed in Germany in 1912. Also, the idea that Houdini would be revealed as one of his own axe-wielding assistants at the end is not accurate. This "magical" spin on the Water Torture Cell was first performed by Doug Henning in 1975. (Read: The Chinese Water Torture Cell at 100.)

Was Houdini a spy?
Houdini was friendly with law enforcement and took great interest in the methods and practices of criminals and con-men. He even penned a book on the subject in 1906 called The Right Way To Do Wrong. While he might have communicated with William Melville of Scotland Yard about what he was observing in Germany and Russia (and even the "evidence" for this is paper thin), to show him working as a full blown spy and using his magic act as "cover" is ludicrous. In fact, MI5 didn't even exist during Houdini's first tour of Europe. Of all the fictionalizations in the Houdini miniseries, this is by far the worst, and trying to work this fiction into the story is one of the reasons the movie so badly mangles the facts of his early career. Houdini was not a spy. (Read: Experts weigh-in on 'Secret Life' spy revelation.)


Did Houdini do the bullet catch for Kaiser Wilhelm II?
While it's possible Houdini might have done the bullet catch early in his career, he never did it during his fame, and certainly not for Germany's Kaiser in a private performance as shown in the miniseries. After his friend Chung Ling Soo (William Robinson) was killed onstage doing the catch in 1918, Houdini announced that he would attempt it himself. But he was talked out of it by magician Harry Kellar. This gave the Bullet Catch an even more ominous reputation as being a trick so dangerous even Houdini wouldn't try it. (Read: Did Houdini do the bullet catch in the 1890s?)


Did Houdini ring the bells of the Kremlin?
Like the hole in the ice, this story comes from Houdini's time, but no verifiable source (such as a newspaper account) has ever surfaced to prove that it actually happened. It also tends to change from teller to teller, one of whom was Orson Welles, a great teller of tall tales. And while Houdini did perform for the Russian Royal Family, the idea that Rasputin was among the gathering is not possible. Houdini toured Russia in 1903 and Rasputin did not meet the Russian Royal Family until 1905. (Read: Orson Welles remembers Houdini.)

Did Houdini give his mother a royal reception in Budapest?
It is true that Houdini brought his mother to Europe and gave her a lavish "royal" reception with relatives in Budapest. The dress Houdini had purchased for her was said to have been designed for Queen Victoria before her death. However, Houdini did not pour gold coins into his mother's lap on this occasion. He did this privately when he asked for his salary in gold coins so his could fulfill a childhood promise to his mother that one day he would pour gold into her lap.


Did Houdini fall apart when we saw Bess sitting on the lap of another man?
This is actually true. Bess purposely planted herself on the lap of a young Colonel to see if she could make her husband jealous. It worked. Although showing Houdini getting drunk is not accurate. Houdini was a well-known teetotaler. But for months Houdini would be thrown into a deep funk if anyone around him used the word "Colonel."

Did Houdini engage in bondage sex with Lady Butler?
Houdini did not have an affair with British painter Elizabeth Thompson aka Lady Butler, nor is there any indication that they ever even met. And as far as we know, Houdini didn't indulge in any sexual fetish. He was quite puritanical in matters of sex. However, there is evidence that he did have at least one affair with Charmian London, the widow of Jack London. (Read: The illicit loves of Harry Houdini.)


Did Houdini own and fly his own airplane?
In 1909 Houdini became fascinated with aviation and purchased a Voison biplane. He flew in exhibitions in Germany and England, and became the first man to ever fly a plane in Australia. However, the depiction of Houdini barnstorming across Europe with Bess on-board is fiction. As with almost all planes at the time, Houdini's Voison could only hold a pilot and was not capable of sustained and reliable flight for travel. (Read: Houdini was the 25th person to fly.)


Did Houdini resent and resist early cinema?
Houdini embraced cinema almost from the start of the medium. He made a short film in Paris in 1909 and also filmed many of his outdoor escapes which played before his vaudeville act. Seeing Houdini frequently meant seeing a film. He was actually a pioneer of the medium. (Read: 'Houdini Defeats Hackenschmidt' and other revelations.)

Did Bess Houdini smoke pot?
The same biography that gave us the "spy" theory also claimed that Bess Houdini smoked pot. This comes from a 1927 diary entry in which she mentions that she dined out with "no drink and no weed." However, "weed" was slang for tobacco, so it's more likely she is talking about cigarettes (she did smoke). While Bess enjoyed her champagne and did have trouble with substances after Houdini's death, the extent of her drinking during their marriage is unknown, and the suggestion that she was an alcoholic is speculative. (Read: Did Bess Houdini smoke pot?)


Did Houdini's career falter in 1914?
Houdini's audience never tired of escapes. If anything, it was the opposite. The audience expected and demanded escapes from Houdini even when he tried to mount a straight magic act. Houdini's fame and career was actually at a pinnacle in 1914. (Read: The untold story of Houdini's 1914 Battery Park escape.)

Still watching? The good news is Part Two is a big improvement over Part One as far as the facts are concerned. I will post a Fact Check of Part Two tomorrow. And if there's a question that I haven't answered above, please post it in the Comments section below and I will answer you there.

CONTINUE TO NIGHT TWO...
#HOUDINItruth

________________________________________________________________

UPDATE: Fact Checking HOUDINI The Miniseries by John Cox is now available in a special print edition. Included are fact checks for both nights, reviews of the broadcast and expanded miniseries, and a history of the production with behind-the-scenes images not available online.

You can buy Fact Checking HOUDINI The Miniseries on Amazon.com (U.S.), Amazon.co.uk (UK), or direct from CreateSpace.

141 comments:

  1. Arthur Moses, Houdini HistorianSeptember 1, 2014 at 8:07 PM

    It's the only time I can recall watching a show where the only thing that contained facts were the commercials.

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    1. regarding your comments about Houdini and spying, in the well respected joint biography by jalush and Sloman on Houdini the entire chapter 6 on Houdini meeting with Mellville and tutoring English spies about escape techniques. is there some long-running arcane dispute between biographers over whether or not he met with Melville and offered advice and tips to the English intelligence service? that doesn't mean he was a full-blown star but isn't that a sign of his cooperation with intelligence services? THANKS,Art

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    2. From Art levine: typos from voece app in query above:sholud be Kalush anf full-blown spy, not star...

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    3. Chech the index of thr book for Melvilleand Wilkie ;don't they add some credibility to the spying fictional ization that the screenwriter used in this TV seriesns that the screenwriter used in this TV series

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    4. Oh, I'm well versed in that book and all the "evidence" for the spy theory -- which comes down to a single letter that mentions a single memo that was written by someone with the initials "HH". Everything else is speculation.

      I know and greatly respect the author, Bill Kalush, but I remain a skeptic. I wish Bill would have followed-up. I've not heard a single peep about the spy theory since 2004.

      I honestly think it was all greatly exaggerated to help sell the book and a movie. And it did both. But my mind is open.

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    5. Again, this film was NOT intended to be a biopic. It was meant for entertainment. The director actually said this.

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  2. Major let down. All the ingredients to do the BEST Houdini movie EVER and.....well, let's just say it's not even a contender.

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    1. Night Two is much better, Dean. Don't make the mistake that I made and review it on Night One alone.

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    2. I gotta tell ya, after that, I'm not looking forward to night 2. But if YOU say it's better, then I'll trust your word. I'm just really let down. I feel like Harry when he saw Bess sitting on the soldiers lap.

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    3. LOL. Go drunk, like Harry didn't.

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    4. on here is a real service you could do your new readers coming at your website after the series or During the series you could warn us beforehand which Tricks displayed in the series are going to have revealed so we don't watch that in full.
      I lower the volume and turn my head away after the bullet catching trick because I didn't want to know how it works because today is that trick is used by great Magicians today

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    5. My approach to these possible exposures is to ignore them. To acknowledge them as exposures them just confirms them. Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong. I'm not saying.

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    6. Lead is non-magnetic, so the method shown would not work in real life. I'm more annoyed by the Metamorposis reveal.

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    7. It was a magician supplied bullet. There is no reason it would not be made of a material of the magicians choosing to make the trick work, and no way upon visual inspection the shooter would have noticed the bullet was not lead. Much like the cards, paper, glassware, etc. that magicians provide in most any other trick.

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  3. when is the next part ?? the way it was advertised all week made it seem like they would play back to back

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  4. i don't have cable hence won't be seeing this movie for a few weeks, at least, but i had this idea that maybe Houdini tried and screwed up the bullet-catch trick early in his career and that's why he had a slug stuck in his hand. He might have dreamed up the story of the criminals shooting him as a way to explain the slug without admitting that he'd failed the bullet-catch trick. Just a whimsical speculation (after a few beers...)

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  5. Knew something was wrong when they said Jim was from Macon, Ga. I'm from Macon, Ga. and never heard of any association with Houdini and a Maconite. I was not impressed with Night One.

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    1. Wrong, Cliff. He performed at the Grand. Go read the Wikipedia link for the Grand. It has some information about the act. Supposedly the trap doors were installed for Houdini.

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    2. Interesting about the Grand. I wonder if they have any dates? Know that pretty much every old theater claims to have hosted Houdini, and many claim Houdini as the source of their trap doors (although Houdini didn't have much use for traps).

      The only performance in Georgia I know of is the Forsythe Theater in Atlanta, Jan 1-6, 1912.

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  6. John,
    I hope you are right about night two. So far what Houdini does best is escape the truth (escapes out of order, no Martin Beck, leaps from 200 foot high bridges into a 12 foot hole cut into the ice and Harry is 007). If this mini series sparks more interest in Harry great. I just wish for once Hollywood got it right.

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  7. I believe it has since been proven that Houdini was not the 1st to fly in Australia, but rather one of the first, no?

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    1. Don't believe what you read on Wikipedia.

      http://www.wildabouthoudini.com/2012/03/wikipedia-robs-houdini-of-his-first.html

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    2. After Houdini's death, claims where made by other aviators that they actually got in the air first, but they offered no proof whatsoever. Houdini met all the criterial and was recognized as the first by the Aerial League of Australia. That's the history. But it has since become a political issue in Australia because of regional claims and pride, etc. It's a mess.

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  8. So glad you did this 'fact checking' post John. I was doing my best to send throngs people from the Twitter world to your website when they were all asking what is fact or fiction. I enjoyed night one for what it was but heres to a less cringing night two!
    -Sean Holden

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    1. Thanks Sean.

      PLEASE, everyone, tweet and pass this along. It's us vs. the HISTORY channel. And use hashtag #HOUDINItruth

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  9. I have to say, I had a different take on this than most. Having been a fan of Houdini as well everyone else here since I was a kid (I'm 52 now) and even dabbling in escapes myself, I was prepared to hate this movie from the beginning. I could see all the inaccuracies in the promos, I hated the CGI and I thought Mr. Brody was physically all wrong for the part. As I watched it, I too saw all the embellishments and outright inaccuracies and was pointing them out......but at a certain point.....I saw something clever. While those of us are all die hard fans who want an accurate movie, I feel like this will bring in a whole new generation of Houdini fans and adds let another layer to Houdini's legend. It was in the scene with the traveling magician where Houdini called BS on the magician telling how his son was killed doing the bullet catch that I realized the movie was doing the same thing and that was kind of a wink and a nod to knowing fans. After all, was Houdini himself not the biggest teller of tall tales when it came to his legacy? It was his own form of marketing misdirection and hype. As I watched, I felt like a magician, watching another magician. I could see ever slight of hand move, knew how every trick was done, but was still amazed at the magician's skill at doing it so well. All the non-magicians in this scenario were totally amazed and sucked into the illusion. He is growing the legacy even more and I felt like a kid again, reading about Houdini for the first time. The fact that I could see what was real and what wasn't didn't matter. Throughout the years, I learned that a lot of things I thought I originally knew about Houdini turned out to be false. I was none the less amazed at Houdini's ability to have those tall tales survive for so long and still be believed today by the audiences.
    So I started out as a hater, but am sucked in and looking forward to tomorrow.

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    1. I agree Jim! When it comes to dramatizations of subjects I hold dear, I tend to just sit back,try to relax and enjoy the film for what it is. Being one who also into escapology, I tried to put aside what was revealed and enjoy it. Also, a point on this mini series bringing in new Houdini fans.... According to what was going on with #Houdini on twitter tonight, most of the younger crowd were totally into it. Its great to see but its up to all of us and John to steer them into the right direction and see the amazing factual life the man lead.

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    2. And I agree with this as well. It's the INTEREST in Houdini that will be sparked to find sites like yours to get the truth, and make more magicians. I'm a big Bobby Darin fan who couldn't wait to see the biopic Beyond the Sea. It was fabricated as a "fantasy" and had whopping lies all through it. But the interest in Darin's music skyrocketed. At first I was angry, but then realized it's all for the greater good. I couldn't wait to see Adrian Brody in this, and I got completely sucked in. Half truths, falsehoods and all. I don't look to movies for truth anymore - no one seems to think truth is interesting enough. But I can't wait for tomorrow!! Thank you for your extremely interesting website!!

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    3. "While those of us are all die hard fans who want an accurate movie, I feel like this will bring in a whole new generation of Houdini fans and adds let another layer to Houdini's legend."

      That is a very valid point indeed. I think there is a fine balance that no scale (yes, intended) can accurately account for but it is still something to consider: this happens with music and other things, too. Any time you take someone or something and put them in an environment that they don't normally fit in to, there is the potential to introduce them to some people - who might just have not heard of [you] - that might actually find home in [your] group... or otherwise are exposed to something new and something they really enjoy. I have experienced exactly this.

      "As I watched, I felt like a magician, watching another magician. I could see ever slight of hand move"
      Not to be offensive, mind, but I think you made a slight towards English (yes, I love puns and I'm surprised - given the hour - 5:55PST - and how little sleep I got last night - that I didn't glance over slight.. you almost managed misdirection or sleight of letters, is another way of putting it). You mean sleight of hand, of course (interesting thing about language, isn't it? So much for "sound it out" ...).

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    4. I agree w/the fans here who appreciate that Houdini was, after all, a man who loved the "fantastical", a man who enjoyed exploring those spaces between reality and fantasy. Just looking at that haunting sketch of Adrian Brody, draws me in! It's wonderful that Houdini's legend still lives on, here's a toast to a new endeavor to help bring in a new audience of fans!

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  10. Its not portraying his life in chronological order and everything is dramatized. ....but cut out the spy thing and get rid of the horrible Jim Collins and its all there. Childhood poverty, dy lynn and Houdin, houdini and his brother, meeting bess and quick courtship, cuff and jail escapes, bridge jumps, milk can, usd, etc. Yes I was hoping for a real life story of Houdini but

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    1. Yes, the whole spy thing is what really ruins all this. To make it fit and make sense you have to wildly change the facts of Houdini's early career (famous in 1896?). I'll have more on that in my full review.

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    2. Of course factual liberties can be forgiven...as Hitchcock would say, "It's only a MOOVIE!" But Adrien Brody just lacked intelligence and real mystery, and Bess was just silly. I sat with Nick Meyer at a dinner last spring, and he was despairing that the film was out of his hands and that History was overseeing extensive re-writes, etc. Don't blame him for this mess, rather the system at the channel.

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    3. Extensive re-writes by someone other than Meyer? This is news to me. I had very different information.

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  11. I was really hoping this was going to turn out better, but wow. Pure melodramatic fantasy, just like all the other biopics. It's the first film to accurately show how Harry and Bess first met, and yet everything else is wrong. Go figure.

    I pushed myself to watch the whole thing, but I got bored before the last half-hour. Houdini's real life was so much more colorful. Why do writers feel the need to invent? After a certain point, I even started to recognize scenarios and sometimes entire shots that looked they were pulled right out of the 1953 and 1998 movies. Maybe that's where they went for their research...

    I'm holding you to your word, John, that part two is better, though I guess just about anything can top this. I just hope there are less exposés. Maybe I'm just touchy, but I found those almost sacrilegious!

    - Meredith

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    1. Honestly, is it worse than Starsky playing Houdini? I think not.

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    2. I loved "Starsky" as Houdini! :)

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    3. This is entirely off-topic, but I was watching "From Here to Eternity" this morning, and thought (all physical differences aside) what a marvelous Houdini Burt Lancaster might have made. He had the joy and showmanship (and panache) that so many other Houdinis have lacked - and could certainly have handled the stunts.

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  12. The Problem, Jim, is that people will assume the stories are all trure since it is on the history channel. Why was there a need , say to change some of the facts as where his magic designer was from?

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  13. I have been writing a screenplay for a proper Houdini Movie for 3 years. It will blow all these other ridiculous movies away. To be continued.

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  14. I just finished watching it, and I'm so glad I found this page where someone who knows what they're talking about can let us know what's true and what's not! You said the whole spy thing is BS, but is there any grain of truth or even legend to the whole safe(s) caper on their 10th anniversary?

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    1. Hi Bonnie. Excellent! See, you are exactly the kind of person I was hoping to serve here. I actually had a paragraph about the whole anniversary safe adventure, but I cut it because all I had to say was one sentence: "The entire safe(s) sequence is 100% fiction and pretty stupid, IMO."

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  15. You might want to say something (in your next report) about the bridge jump that is shown. First of all - the height of the bridge is ridiculously high. Nobody would jump off that unless they wanted to die. You'd kill yourself from that far up before you froze to death or drowned. I did some checking up on this and they said it was a compilation of several bridge jumps. It is just so annoying that they had to embellish the story - it was exciting enough as it is without having to do that. I'm ashamed of the History Channel for the fictitious mini-series...and also disappointed in Adrien Brody as their choice for this portrayal of a historic figure that we do have photos of. Houdini was a pretty handsome dude and he was short and well built - not skinny with a broken nose and wild crazy hair. I love Adrien in other movies he's done; and I'm sure he did his best. But it's like having Mike Meyers playing Abraham Lincoln. It just doesn't work.

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    1. Thanks, Anon. Yes, the bridge is ridiculously high, but that kind of thing doesn't bother me. It's embellishment for drama and I'm fine with that. I'm just tackling the major narrative stuff.

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  16. To me, it seems less an attempt at a non-fiction biopic than "interesting events that may or may not have happened in the life of Houdini." The main thing it has going for it, I think, is Brody giving some of the swagger Harry must have had.

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    1. I agree. It's funny. So much criticism of Body's casting, but now that I've seen it, I think he's terrific. And I agree. He's got the charisma that Houdini certainly had. Who cares if he's only 90 pounds. :p

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  17. I suppose all or most of us have a gripe about this film.
    I wasn't impressed with the plastic handcuffs and fake locks.
    They couldn't find real props to film with?
    Even the chains draped around HH were modern electro-welded.
    Also, I am getting pretty sick of seeing USD and fireman's axes being used in the same scene.
    I suppose the only thing good about all of this is that maybe a new generation will watch this and become interested in the HH story and buy a book unless there is a factual HH game for PlayStation for them to use.

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    1. Howdy, Mark! Why WOULDN'T firemen's axes be in the same scene as U.S. Dollars? (I have about 75 acronyms of USD - none of which make sense with axes. So I now axe you what you meant.)

      *jeep! & God Bless! (Thanks, Red!)
      --Grandpa Chet

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    2. Well, I thought Adrian Brody was awesome as Houdini, and if you want the REAL shackles owned and used by Harry Houdini, check out http://lestatinternational.com/product/harry-houdinis-shackles-rare/

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  18. How much of the most important secrets does the show give away? I hope not too many. As a layperson who likes seeing magic and a former journalist who ridiculed the Fox "Masked Magician" shows for U.S. News with respect for magic, I'm appalled that any secrets are given away.

    Like your website! What in your view is the best-written, most compelling read and most accurate biography of Houdini?

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    1. The exposures are pretty serious.

      The best biography is "Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss" by Kenneth Silverman.

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  19. Had to keep reminding myself "If Harry produced this movie, it would be just like this." Though he probably would have cast someone more like a young Christopher Reeve.

    He still fools us. Contemporary magicians (and some current magicians) like to say he was a lousy magician - and as far as technique, they may be right.

    But he convinced his audiences that he was everything he claimed, and his audiences swore they saw him do things that he never did. That, I believe, is a Very Good Magician.

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  20. The "syllable-accenting American" is nowhere to be found!

    I understand Jim's argument about the value of fiction and embellishment; fictionalized biography is just like magic itself! wink, wink!

    The problem, it seems to me, is that Houdini's actual life-- even limited to the confirmed facts-- is already so full of improbability, drama, intrigue, and thematic depth! I'm disappointed when all of that is thrown out and replaced by weaker tea.

    Underestimating the public, as if P. T. Barnum were an eternal soothsayer, is a root cause of this malady. No, not everyone has to be, or become, a research and Houdini-purist. But there's so much baby in the bathwater that it would be nice, someday, to see a filmmaker retain and nurture it rather than "improve" the tale.

    Further thoughts after part 2.

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  21. Disappointing and lackluster. F. R.

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  22. Waste of a fine actor and product values in this fictional movie.
    Tom Klem

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  23. I was very disappointed with episode one -- not just the facts, but also the way it glossed over the intensity and hard work it would have taken to make yourself such an outstanding magician and escape artist. When I saw the 1953 Tony Curtis version around 1964, I wanted to be a magician and held shows for neighborhood kids. I challenged people to tie me up. I've always wanted to see a GREAT movie about the man Houdini. No luck so far, and certainly not with this one.

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  24. I want to know more about the punch in the gut. You didn't cover that ...

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    1. It's interesting, but until Montreal in 1926, there are almost no accounts of Houdini ever asking anyone to hit him in the stomach.

      I'll work this into my Night Two fact check. Thanks.

      Delete
  25. We really thought it stunk, and was full of cliches - with the exception of the cinematography. It is insulting to anyone with a real interest in history - the Russia scenes were truly mangled. Portraying Nicholas and Alexandra as cliched "foreigners" who spoke halting English with heavy accents shows that History simply did not do its homework. Alexandra was Queen Victoria's granddaughter and she spoke perfect, unaccented English, as did her husband the Tsar. And why all the fakery about "Brooklyn?" Answer: it's a cliche. Poor script, clanky directing (how many punches in the stomach were there?), frenetic editing. As for Brody, his smile and manner were creepy, not thrilling like Houdini's. He's a one-note actor, in our opinion, and he was playing his role from The Pianist once again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great points David.

      And you should focus your ire on screenwriter Nicholas Meyer and producer Gerald W. Abrams. They are the ones who made this and are responsible for what we see here. History is just a distrubutor.

      Delete
  26. Thank You for the Fact checking... I was very upset to see all of theses falsehoods as well. I was hoping for something far better than what I'm watching on The History Channel.

    ReplyDelete
  27. The wonderful " World of Disney "
    Should have broadcasted on the Disney Channel.

    ReplyDelete
  28. BTW, John - what was your take on the portrayal of Bess? In our view there was absolutely no chemistry at all between her and Brody. She had no character to work with - the script again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, a waste of a great talent, but I'm saving all this for my review. Still working on it.

      Delete
  29. Thanks very much for this thorough analysis! After watching last night, this is exactly the kind of info I was looking for.

    As a student of Russian history, especially the Romanov family and the last Tsar, the Kremlin scene was actually the most unbelievable to me, sparing the bridge jump. First, no random American with a rifle case is going to be permitted to wander around the palaces of the Kremlin, no matter whose assistant he is.

    Second, the idea that the "Kremlin bells" (which bells? There are half a dozen churches on the grounds of the Kremlin) would "not work" is ridiculous. Russian church bells are considered sacred, and would never have been allowed to fall into disrepair, *especially* not in the Kremlin. The bells were only silenced by the Communist regime, as an important symbol of the previous religious life of the country. They resumed ringing in 1992. The only bell in the Kremlin which is famous for *not* ringing is the Tsar Bell, an enormous bell which cracked during casting and has never rung. It is still on display and is so large people can walk inside it.

    Third, the fact the performance is a private one for the family of the Tsar, and yet takes place in the Kremlin itself is very suspect. Not to say that the Romanovs were *never* in residence at the Kremlin, but it was absolutely not their preferred residence, especially as a private family. Such a performance was far more likely to have taken place at Tsarskoye Tselo, the small village of palaces at some remove from St. Petersburg, or at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg itself, which was the Russian capital at this time.

    Finally, as you note, Rasputin could not have been there then, and furthermore would not likely have been there even if such a performance had taken place later. And there is absolutely NO way Houdini could have known or learned A) That the Tsarevich Alexei was a hemophiliac, as this was a state secret right up until his death and B) That Rasputin was believed by the Tsaritsa to be capable of "curing" Alexei's hemophiliac attacks, as the cause and nature of Rasputin's influence over Alexandra and thus Nicholas was completely unknown, even by close confidants. The inexplicable and seemingly malignant influence of Rasputin on the Tsar's family was one reason for the waning of their support among the aristocracy, and Rasputin was assassinated (incompetently) by a conspiracy of very highly placed nobles, in the basement of the Yusupov Palace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for this. Excellent fact checking.

      Delete
    2. Inability of the Royal Family to communicate through the medium of English is utterly rubbish. Tsar spoke English with a perfect accent which in several occasions caused people to confuse him with his doppelgänger cousin George V of England. Tsaritsa, in addition to his mother being Princess Alice of United Kingdom had an English nanny and therefore she spoke English as a 'mother tongue'. Tsarevich and the grand duchesses also spoke English, interestingly in a cockney accent.

      Finally no window that sees Kremlin directly, especially when the Royal Family was present, would have been accessible without attracting Okhrana's attention.

      Delete
  30. Wait, there's more. the Tsarevich Alexei appeared in the film to be a youngster of six or seven years old. This would make the year around 1911. Rasputin could theoretically have been there. But then in the next scene we see Houdini being debriefed by Melville and telling him Russia wants war with Japan. Well, that war had already taken place seven years earlier, in 1904! There's even more stupid lazy writing, so don't get me started!

    ReplyDelete
  31. What a waste of celluloid and two hours of my life. I won’t make that mistake tonight even if it’s an improvement over yesterday’s fiasco.

    ReplyDelete
  32. The lockpicking/mind-is-the-key sequences were nice.

    ReplyDelete
  33. A little voice in my head kept saying: "Oh boy, Cox ain't gonna like this"..."Cox ain't gonna like this",...and "Cox ain't gonna like this", etc.
    And as for Culliton - he probably kicked his foot through the TV set 30 minutes ago!

    Mmm, how could "1913" come & go...and NO mention of Mama dying?!

    Part of me can ignore most of the negatives - just because the film made a prominent feature of Jim Collins (even tho he was portrayed as a young goofy guy)...the first such film character portrayal.

    This film is THIS generation's "Houdini" film.

    As stated in above posts, this film will generate A LOT of viewer interest in Houdini & of the researching his life..and that's great.
    .
    The 1953 "Houdini" film was almost pure Hollywood fantasy...but look at how many prominent Houdini Historians it influenced---many of whom are readers of this bog right now!

    The future Houdini historians will one day point to "that 2014 History Channel film" that lead to their life-long interest in Houdini.

    So far, this film portrayed Houdini as a "cool dude"...yes, as a "super-hero" of sorts (scaling the outside of buildings, escaping from safes, etc.)..if I was a kid - I would certainly want to find out more about this exciting guy!

    On another note, as a "handcuff guy", I'll point out that not a single handcuff shown was the authentic article ---they were all fantasy "look-a-like" versions of the real things.

    btw--Did you notice the "Houdini" mention in the Geico Insurance TV ad?

    Historically, the film is a bomb. But for the "greater good" of promoting interest in Houdini--it's a winner.

    Kind of looking forward to part 2.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very well said, Joe.

      Honestly, had they dropped all the spy garbage and gotten the story of how he because famous just a little bit right, I would have no problems with this miniseries.

      And I did see the Geico ad! There were a few Houdini-themed ads, in fact.

      Delete
  34. My comment is not about truth or fiction, as there are many more qualified people here to take that on. My complaint, at least so far, is the one involving Houdini's father. Yes, I know that this relationship is not being portrayed accurately, but my issue is one of basic storytelling.

    Why is Harry continually haunted by his father? All we know, as tv viewers, is that his father hated Halloween and lost his job. That's all we saw.

    Also, the cliche, angst-ridden voice-overs about cheating death, running from death, or escaping from, er, what did he say? All of this just comes off as some sort of phony internal trauma. Which would be fine, except that they've given no real logical reason for it to exist.

    I'm not a writer or a historian, I'm just a guy watching tv. And even I know that this is just lazy storytelling.

    I'm sure John is putting the final touches on his review (the man never sleeps) and will cover this aspect of the film in detail.

    Oy vey, I think I need some of Bess's "weed" to calm down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL.

      Very well said, Mantoo. Yeah, the father thing...makes no sense and it's not explained (and there's nothing rooted in fact). Meyer just seems to throw it into his stew of cliches.

      Those Rabbi fathers! So uptight.

      Delete
    2. Coming soon, "Houdini: A stew of cliches", the director's cut.

      Delete
    3. "Houdini: Jazz Singer of the Secret Service with Angst"

      Delete
    4. The Halloween scene might have been intended to show that Houdini's father wasn't comfortable with New World traditions and holidays.

      It would have been useful to show scenes of Houdini's large immigrant family, impoverished, with the family's child labor filling in for the feckless father, who worked beside Houdini in a sweatshop. Houdini's rise from poverty is a great story.

      Delete
  35. The present film borders on the ridiculous. The irony is Houdini would have probably enjoyed all the deception, mystery and fiction more than any of us Houdinophiles do. He no doubt knew that a good man with a camera was 10X the escape-artist/magician he could ever be. (The very first photographers actually marketed their skills as magic shows.) For me, I like to read between the lines. For example, his relationship with his Rabbi father is unclear, but surely he was at least a skeptic, maybe even an atheist, when it came to religion. Surely he didn't follow in father's footsteps on that account. I think he was a pretty serious and calculating fellow and businessman, not given much to the romantic or sensational in his personal life. His greatest deception was he is least appreciated for being the fantastic athlete he was and must have spent many more hours in the gym than he ever did in handcuffs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "surely he was at least a skeptic, maybe even an atheist, when it came to religion"

      Probably not. Recall that Houdini supposedly entered into the investigation of Spiritualism to see if he could contact his mother after she died, and later he gave Bess a "code" to show if he could communicate from "the beyond." More over, Houdini, was a Freemason, and as such, he professed a belief in God, or at least, in a "supreme being."

      Delete
  36. Was death the one thing you could not escape....
    ...or the greatest escape of them all

    ReplyDelete
  37. I've only read a couple of biographies of him butI had the feeling that a lot of Part One was inaccurate.

    Regarding the movie scene, they're shown watching a 1916 Chaplin film, "The Rink", in 1914!

    Phil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's funny about the date of the Chaplin movie. BTW, was Chaplin even a star in 1914, or even known? Seems too early.

      Delete
    2. He started making films for Keystone early in 1914 and by the end of that year was very well known by sight, if not by name. Keystone routinely withheld actor credits in their films in the early days but trade periodicals featured him by name. His most popular films of that year were "Dough and Dynamite" and the first comedy feature, "Tillie's Punctured Romance", co-starring Marie Dressler and Mabel Normand.

      But Houdini could have been watching any Keystone Chaplin from that year, as they were very popular and circulated widely.

      Phil

      Delete
    3. Excellent info. Thanks Phil.

      Delete
  38. The actor who is playing Collins is horribly miscast. Eliminate him and the spy theme and it's not a bad mini series.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He's a good actor. His performance is...odd.

      Delete
  39. Another thing that struck me was that Brody looks more like Bess that Harry, facially.

    BTW, do you run the Facebook Houdini page?

    Phil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a bunch of Houdini Facebook pages. :) Are you talking about the one devoted to the miniseries? Yep, that's mine too.

      Delete
  40. Houdini did jump into the nearly frozen Detroit River off the Belle Isle Bridge in November 1906. It wasn't as dramatic as Houdini described it, but it did happen. Here are the details: http://seekingmichigan.org/look/2012/10/30/houdini

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the link, Lynn.

      Delete
    2. Hi Lynn. Houdini did a lot of jumps like that but never into a river that was even close to being frozen over, as far as we know. He made up the entire story, less the part about hearing his mother's voice and a few other details Hollywood added. So the tale wasn't necessarily based on the Detroit jump. At least one other source quotes Houdini as saying the ice jump occurred in Pittsburgh.

      Delete
  41. Why doesn't the History Channel think that the facts are interesting enough in their own right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a question for screenwriter Nicholas Meyer and producer Gerald W. Abrams. They created this History just shows it.

      Delete
  42. A real disappointment. Perry from NJ.

    ReplyDelete
  43. The film has a more "unreal" than a real vibe. All of that dark and gooey CGI made me feel as if I was watching a James Franco Oz movie. These days, you don't get a real corn field location shoot; it's all now done by computers and it looks fake. Verisimilitude has gone out the window for some time now.

    The chemistry between Brody and Connolly wasn't there. I tried but Brody never had me convinced that he was Houdini. The bad chronology of Houdini's illusions, and other aspects of his life kept getting in the way, again, and again. I threw my hands up and walked out of the movie theater...

    ReplyDelete
  44. The Schlieffen Plan that Brody steals in 1904 actually did not exist before 1905.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's funny. Of course, that entire sequences is nonsense.

      Delete
  45. BTW, this is already WILD ABOUT HARRY's most viewed post of all time. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congrats. I guess the silver lining about this lamentable mess is that it's getting all of us talking about Houdini, which is exactly what he would have wanted.

      -Meredith

      Delete
  46. Did Houdini really keep firing Jim or is that a lie too. It somewhat paints him as an irrational person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He was a hot-tempered man who "fired" assistants but didn't expect them to stay fired. His assistants worked for him for a long time.

      Delete
  47. Very disappointed. Thanks, especially to John Cox for all of the info, critique and comments here.
    Agreed especially that HH's life was fascinating and so powerful in truth, that no amount of embellishment was or ever is needed. My only consolation is that, despite all of the justified criticism, if a new generation is drawn into magic and become interested in learning more about HH and and all of magic, then perhaps it was worthwhile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep, I think that's a very good point. It was the Curtis movie that drew me in, and even at age 10, I knew what I saw in movies wasn't always the truth.

      Delete
  48. Other than being obsessed and not having a life of your own, what, exactly, makes you an expert on Houdini? Did you know him or someone who did? You may have centered your life around him and read and studied what's publicly available and known, but you still didn't know the man nor are you in any position to decide what's fact or fiction. For instance, you claim that you "know and respect Bill Kalush," but that he "greatly exaggerated" the spy thing to "help sell a book and a movie." How can you claim to respect someone while essentially calling him a liar at the same time? I know Bill too and his book is one of the most thoroughly researched books on Houdini ever written. You're so convinced of your own rightness concerning all things Houdini that you automatically disagree with anyone who's uncovered new facts about Houdini's life simply because they discovered and revealed something about him before you did. I think your "skepticism" is based on envy and rivalry. You don't know as much about Houdini as you think you do, but you'll continue to write about him as if you were best friends.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not having a life of my own… Guilty.

      And it was wrong to me to suggest that Bill exaggerated the spy thing to sell books. He's a better person than that. I think that was the publishers doing.

      Also, if you've spent any time reading this blog, you know that I love nothing more than learning something new about Houdini no matter the source, and I'm perfectly happy to be corrected. I'm corrected all the time.

      Delete
    2. I agree with Anonymous above. I bet you hang out with two other losers who drink beer and watch Planet of the Apes all day. :)

      Delete
    3. As long as it's not the remakes…

      Delete
    4. Anonymous: First, if you're so confident in your opinion, why is it you remain anonymous and find the need to insult John instead of simply asking him about his qualifications?

      Second, you presume someone cannot be an expert without having personally known Houdini or someone who did. Aside from the fact that John actually has known people who knew or were related to Houdini, he's a fine researcher and writer who makes new discoveries about Houdini on a regular basis. In other words, he hasn't just "studied what's publicly available and known."

      Yes, his knowledge of known facts is broad, but make no mistake about it: He does original research and raises often open-ended questions that inspires others to do even more research.

      Your claim that John "automatically disagree[s] with anyone who's uncovered new facts about Houdini's life" is false. Simple as that. Obviously you don't follow this blog. John loves when people discover new information about Houdini and encourages others to have open discussions and debates about it. If his opinions were "based on envy and rivalry," he would never publish anyone else's point of view. Your judgment of him is not fair.

      As for Kalush, Sloman, and the publisher of their book lying or exaggerating, that's not for me to comment on at this moment. But if you think staging the exhumation of Houdini's body from Machpelah Cemetery was not a cheap publicity stunt to sell more books, then you must have just fallen off the Siberian transport van.


      Delete
    5. My pleasure. Anon was out of line.

      Delete
    6. Excuse me but I am the eternal champion (unintentional reference is there but I'll leave it to those who understand it) of 'no life' so I think you'll have to apologise to John. And what is wrong with obsessive learning, improving, bettering yourself
      and others? Are you against it because you might be reminded of the fact you aren't perfect?

      I think you would do the world some good if you were to tell all other fact-checkers and biographers that unless they are autobiographers[1], anything they claim - which, ironically enough INCLUDES YOU which refutes everything you go at - is invalid. I don't even know myself in full and to suggest someone knows someone in full simply by "knowing" them is absurd.
      [1]Fabrications are fabrications themselves. People see themselves in all ways, not just positive. Etc. No.

      It isn't black and white so the fact he doesn't feel something is all someone claims it is (which, often it isn't!) doesn't mean he cannot have respect for the person. You might respect much of their work but it doesn't mean you agree with everything they do or claim. That would be boring and - significantly - it would mean no improvements would occur because why? Right, if everyone agreed with everyone else, who would bother changing - or even thinking of it! - anything? I don't usually but I am actually quite good at lying (because I have blunted emotional range and affect, combined with some other - pardon it - truths makes it incredibly easy) but many people still trust and respect me (even people who know that I could be convincing them of something completely false.. and have in the past). The reality is that if everyone believed everything and didn't have different views (and believing isn't based on fact) then slavery would be more prevalent, medical issues that are much better now would be worse (and we'd be extinct!), and that's only two examples.

      "You're so convinced of your own rightness concerning all things Houdini that you automatically disagree with anyone who's uncovered new facts about Houdini's life simply ..."
      (Note you're doing exactly the same)
      Your real issue, then, is that he gave his opinion and an opinion you disagree with. Unfortunately, much like beliefs, opinions aren't based on facts. Even if they were, facts can later be proven wrong (as you kind of suggest). A good example: asbestos used to be good. This mentality is of one that does not want to learn, grow, and ironically you are doing exactly what you claim John is not capable of: respecting someone because they offer a different view.

      "I think your "skepticism" is based on envy ..."

      Of course he doesn't. But there is so much more to learn, always. This goes for everything and everyone. And it is those
      that realise this that do learn more. I might add that by definition, being a skeptic means you are don't necessarily believe everything you see/hear (i.e., you can think for yourself) and belief/opinion/skepticism isn't based on fact. So arguing about skepticism when directly referring to how much he knows (or doesn't) is a fallacy. Most important is that those who strive to learn (whatever) but realise they are not infallible actually admit to the latter fact. For example, I write about other things (sparing you the details) and I admit to mistakes, I amend statements and I move forward. That's the only way if you have any dignity and he does.

      The best part is of course is that much of your arguments actually disqualify you as well (as I pointed out above - just stating it again because it is significant and rather amusing).

      (Oh and I agree: much self respect and dignity you have, that you are able to throw insults - and insults that are irrational - while signing off as anonymous...).

      Delete
  49. Houdini was not a spy. Kalush found a few references
    And then build a houdini bio around it. He found a new angle on houdinis life to sell books. No truth in it whatsoever.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Flea is totally out of place in this movie.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Late to the party but finally watched Houdini with TIVO edited commercials. I stumbled across this site because I never heard that Houdini was a spy; now I know why. It never happened. Or, if it did, would we ever know for sure? Short of Snoden releasing classified information we’ll never really know if Houdini or Chuck Barris were US spies.

    First of all an appreciative thank you to the site owner and all who contributed to publishing the facts; I'll admit to feeling disappointed in all the exaggerations and lies. Not because they weren't entertaining but because the truth about Houdini and his life would be much more entertaining. In fact a documentary I saw a few days ago provided that entertainment and accuracy.

    It's not like anyone thought magic was involved, but the man was an entertainer. Focusing on the work involved would be akin to watching how difficult it was for Michelangelo to blend paint colors; great for a few minutes but 2 nights of commercial sales needs more drama and, in this era of short attention span audiences, spectacle.

    As others have said, the good news is a new generation of people now knows who Houdini is, and maybe a few will appreciate what inspired Chis Angel. If anyone should be angry it's Penn & Teller. Until this movie I couldn't figure out how they did the gun bullet trick and I've enjoyed their show quite a few times here in Vegas.

    It's not magic - its entertainment; and it shouldn't be surprising that the same channel who brings you 'UFO Files' doesn't always represent 'History' even if it is its name.

    All that said – I’ll still watch part 2 followed by another trip to this site to get the real and rest of the story. Thanks again to all, especially the site owner, for providing it.

    Timo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Timo. I' glad you found the site. I hope you enjoy Part 2. They do a much better job on the facts.

      Delete
  52. Okay, EVERYTHING IN THIS BLOG IS WRONG! WHOEVER WROTE THIS HAS NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT!

    Everything thing in this movie is accurate! There is nothing inaccurate about this biopic. Stop agreeing with this blogger. You are all forgetting one very important thing, the government knows more than we do! Everything we were taught in school about Houdini was a lie. The government only tells us what they want us to know. This movie speaks the truth!

    Worst blog ever! Very badly written. Lack of proof. I think a baby could write better.

    ReplyDelete
  53. I found this blog while Googling whether Houdini was a spy. I thought it odd that I'd never heard that before watching this tonight, and now I know why.

    The order of some of his escapes also seemed off to me, which was confirmed above. But the one thing that really peeved me while I was watching was the fact that his passport played such a big role in the plot, considering that passports weren't in use at that time. At first, I thought it was just a mistake in the script when he mentioned to Bessie that they'd need to get passports, but then they actually handed him a falsified passport to use, and I was surprised that no one had thought to check on when they came to be used in the modern era.

    Anyway, I was rather disappointed with the show. I was hoping to show it to my daughter, who is obsessed with Houdini. But, between all the inaccuracies and the gratuitous sex scenes, that's not going to happen.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Thanks a lot for this website and specifically this post. Last week I finally sat down to watch this show with my mother and... while I had vague memories of some things (certain escapes, say), both of us were quite dismayed with some things they showed. It is therefore much appreciated that you dispel (as another comment pointed out, I do love puns) the myths here (it is also a relief).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Cody. Glad you found this helpful. And thanks for all your well expressed comments to the various points and posts above.

      Delete
  55. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    I have recorded the miniseries, but decided to wait for it to come out on DVD and check out from my library so I could watch it 1.25 to 2.0 speed after listening a "review" from this podcast (from about 9:20 to 16:40): The Geologic Podcast Episode #378 (caution some content of that podcast may be offensive to some people).

    So while making spiced nuts for the holidays I was watching it at fast speed on old laptop, and then when I had to stir the nuts I would review the validity of it by checking out this webpage. It was very helpful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Chris. Glad you found the site helpful. Hope you enjoy your spiced nuts! :)

      Delete
  56. While the makers of this film have taken some creative license, they have brought Houdini back to a whole new generation of fans. I only this week watched the film. I understand that some aspects were created for theatrical purposes for a two-day series, and whether that should be done is certainly open for debate. What isn't debated is that it ignited at least some interest in my children, ages 16, 14 and 12, to read more about Houdini and learn about the real man.

    ReplyDelete
  57. J. Eduardo CaamanoJanuary 8, 2015 at 12:57 AM

    Finally the Spanish TV broadcasted the Houdini series by Max Discovery channel. Int the worst possible way (4 weekly episodes will be issued on Wednesdays) to worsen they are dubbed in Spanish. I need to buy the blueray ASAP!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 4 weekly episodes? Interesting. I wonder how they are breaking those up? Thanks for info.

      Delete
  58. Mr Cox I don't know if you check this website regularly anymore or not. I just watched the mini series on Netflix. I was wondering despite the fact that the spying appears to be false was his passport ever changed to indicate that he was born in America?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Houdini got a new passport while he was in Europe and changed his birthplace to the U.S. His brother did the same thing.

      Delete
  59. Now if only people could read the bible with the same manner of analysis as this author has provided. lol... The show was certainly "exaggerated" and very much a Tall Tale to bolster the life of Houdini.... fun to watch but yes far from factual... much like a lot of "word of mouth" stories in history. :)

    ReplyDelete
  60. It's almost as bad as U-571, the Hollywood film that is inspired by a British war effort, but depicts the hole thing as an American operation. "The director actually has the audacity to end on a title card dedicating his film to the memory of the real sailors who captured Enigma machines. Yes, that same memory he has just desecrated. This is exactly the most tasteless gesture the film-makers could have made." I enjoyed how this Houdini 2 part series was directed and edited, but it doesn't live up to the truth, and it's only thanks to this article that I now know it... many thanks for that.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Love all nights

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Harriet. Thanks for the comment. :)

      Delete

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