Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The truth about The Magic of Houdini

Amazon's steaming video service recently added a documentary called The Magic of Houdini. Even though it shows a 2016 date, this is actually the 1971 BBC documentary The Truth About Houdini.

This was the first Houdini documentary and remains one of my favorites. It's well worth watching if you've never seen it. Just don't be fooled into thinking you're buying or renting something new.

This isn't the first time this has happened. This was offered on DVD under the same title back in 2010, but vanished quickly.

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12 comments:

  1. I have been trying to get this for a while. Cheers.
    I believe there is some unseen footage of HH which isn't in the public domain.

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    1. The original BBC version featured Sid Radner exposing the "Cross Escape" (wrists tied to the horizontal beam).

      Later versions seemed to have that sequence edited out for some reason....I wonder if it will be on THIS version?

      I believe that TELLAR purchased the Cross Escape at the Las Vegas Sid Radner Auction (2004).

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    2. I'm sure this is the same U.S. cut that appeared before, so I'm guessing it won't have it. The U.S. broadcast version cut the Sid Radner straitjacket escape as well, I believe.

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  2. I remember seeing the Sid Radner straitjacket escape demo back when this aired in October 1976. I'm glad this is finally available. I hope it's also sold as a DVD by Amazon.

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    1. Oh, was it? I have a VHS recording I made from a TV broadcast and it's not there. But I probably recored it around 78-80. Guess it had been cut by then, or maybe just for that one showing. Same thing happened with the Curtis movie. Different things would be cut in different airings.

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    2. I recorded this back in Oct. '76 on ohr family's brand new Betamax. It was a few months before this, that I was really starting to get into Houdini in a big way.

      Super cool to be able to watch it again.

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  3. John,

    I remember it vividly as I was deep into my Houdini phase of magic having discovered him by accident when the year before. I first saw it on 10/31/1976 and it was billed as a special in honor of the 50th anniversary of his death. that same year I watched the Tony Curtis movie and the ABC telemovie the Great Houdinis. Both of which frustrated me with their biographical inaccuracies.

    Granted the available bios at the time were limited to The Man who Walked through walls, Great Houdini, Magician Extraordinary, the Kellock bio, and of course the Gibson books which I obtianed from Dick's Tricks in Freehold N.J. I still have my original copies of all of them though sadly Gresham's has long been falling apart.

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    1. Thanks Craig. I actually deleted my post/question because I found my answer. I was looking for the very first U.S. airing, which I know was in '76. Turns out in was May 15. It then repeated several times in October and November on different dates depending on the area. But thanks for the answer. What a year that was, eh!?

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    2. Another question for you, Craig. When you saw this in '76, do you recall seeing the Sid Radner punishment suit escape? I know that was cut by the time I recored mine around 1980, but I'm wondering if it was in the original broadcast?

      I'm also wondering if this was called The Truth About Houdini when it first aired on the BBC. I've found evidence that it might have had a different title.

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  4. Christopher's The Untold Story was also available back then.

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  5. When I saw this documentary back in 1976, I did indeed see Radner demo the punishment suit.

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    1. Thanks Leo. I've been saying that was cut from the U.S. broadcast, but it looks like it was only cut from the repeats -- or just the one that I recored. I never saw it until the Bill McIlhany release.

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