Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Days of Thrills and Laughter released on DVD

Days of Thrills and Laughter is released today on DVD by VCI Entertainment.

The 1961 documentary feature takes an affectionate look back at the silent era and includes footage from Houdini's 1922 film The Man From Beyond. While Houdini appeared on the original promotion material, looks like he didn't make the cover of this DVD, although he is name-checked on the back.

Purchase the Days of Thrills and Laughter DVD from Amazon.com.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

'Carter Beats The Devil' reappears at Warner Bros.

Carter and Houdini in 1910.
Deadline Hollywood reports that Warner Bros. has optioned Michael Glen David Gold’s Carter Beats The Devil for Jon Shestack to produce with Ginny Brewer and Jeremy Stein.

The site reports that the book was "a hot property when optioned for high six-figures in 2002 by Paramount for Cruise/Wagner, a time when Tom Cruise was intrigued with playing a magician. It was eclipsed by a different C/W-developed magic book, David Fisher’s The War Magician. Ultimately, nothing happened on either front."

Shestack had tried to option the novel when it first came out, and has followed the many failed attempts to turn it into a movie at other studios. "I’ve been trying to get Warner Bros. to buy it since the day it came out and that it’s finally happened is enough to make me believe in magic," Shestack says.

Michael Gilio has been hired to write the script.

The superb 2001 novel features Houdini in a small but significant role as Carter’s inspiration and mentor. Here's hoping Carter can beat Development Hell!

Photo of Charles Carter and Houdini in Sydney Australia (1910) courtesy of Kevin Connolly HoudiniHimself.com.

Friday, June 18, 2010

New fiction: Houdini’s Flight

A new novel, Houdini’s Flight by Angelo Loukakis, has been released by Harper Collins in Australia. Description follows:

Terry Voulos is struggling. His marriage, his relationship with his son and his work prospects are shaky. He finds solace in the possibility of a new career as a magician, before a tragic accident sends him into exile, estranged from all that is familiar. 
Hal Sargeson, a one-time magician and lifelong disciple of Harry Houdini, takes Terry under his wing. He begins to school Terry in the same arts of escape that the great Houdini used to thrill Australian audiences a hundred years earlier, but keeps to himself a knot that might have beaten even the master. 
Terry is eventually brought to truths more disturbing than his present troubles, and to a moment when the healing power of magic is truly needed. Between Houdini′s example and Hal′s guidance, Terry learns much more than the routine illusions of the everyday magician. 
HOUDINI′S FLIGHT is a moving and surprising story of finding meaning in the most unexpected places.

Blue Stars Drum & Bugle Corps tribute to Houdini

The La Crosse Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps will debut its 2010 show, Houdini, at Onalaska High School in Onalaska, WI on June 23, 2010.

This program tells the story of Houdini with contemporary classical compositions by Philip Glass and music from the movies The Illusionist and The Bucket List and the opera Nixon in China.

The Blue Stars are known for telling stories on the field such as the American factory during World War II and Tour de France. This year they have selected a much darker show in Houdini but hope to capture the story of the man who once had the greatest act on earth, said Brad Furlano, former Blue Stars drum major who is the corps’ executive director.

The color guard will use handcuffs and crates and wear straight jackets while spinning flags in their routine.

The concert will begin at 7 pm and is free to the public. The corps do ask that you bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the La Crosse Hunger Task Force.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Houdini LEGO

Following up yesterday’s post, here’s a second Flickr discovery: a custom Houdini LEGO! Very nice.

I plucked this from Morgan190’s Photostream where you can see many more custom LEGO figures.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Houdini tattoo

Came across this while browsing Flickr. Yes, that’s a Houdini tattoo. Not much more to say about this, except now you can say you’ve seen it all.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Houdini model lifts off at last

BACCHUS Marsh air enthusiast Gary Sunderland’s Voisin biplane has finally taken to the sky. After an unsuccessful attempt at Melton’s Centenary of Flight Airshow in March, the plane was airborne at the Twin Cities Model Aero Club meeting in Albury/Wodonga early last month.

The plane is a replica of Harry Houdini’s aircraft which took off from Diggers Rest 100 years ago.

And it appears Mr Sunderland encountered many of the problems experienced by Houdini back then.

“It was more difficult than I first imagined and certainly Harry Houdini and other pioneers of flying deserve our respect,” Mr Sunderland said.

“The model was persuaded to take to the sky and perform a number of circuits of the field and fly by the many spectators.

“Level flight proved to be the most difficult to achieve as it was unstable in pitch and wanted to dive.”

Mr Sutherland had previously flown the aircraft in early morning, calm weather at the Bacchus Marsh airstrip, but that was not witnessed by crowds.

He thanked friends and well-wishers for their encouragement.

By Liam McAleer
Moorabool Leader

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Houdini is back in action at Six Flags

The popular "Houdini’s Great Escape" ride at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey is back in action after being SBNO (“standing but not operating”) from 2008. The ride reopened on May 22, 2010. According to Wikipedia, "Houdini's Great Escape is widely believed to be the best flat ride in Six Flags Great Adventure, as well as the most well-themed and unique."

The following ride description comes from Wikipedia:

The queue weaves through Houdini's garden, which features several trees, shrubs, and an ornate fountain. The queue line is next to the park's Carousel, as well as the Dare Devil Dive SkyCoaster. Screams can be heard from the Dare Devil Dive while waiting in line for Houdini. The line stops in front of Houdini's house, which features posters advertising Houdini's magic tricks, as well as daily seances which are held in the house.

After entering the house, guests come into Houdini's library, complete with faux candles and books. Margery, an unseen narrator, tells guests about Houdini and about their goal - to bring back the spirit of Houdini to the world of the living. She shows a film of Houdini so guests can concentrate on his image. Soon after the film ends, all the candles in the room blow out and Houdini's spirit begins to enter various objects in the room, including chains, gargoyles, and the Chinese Water Torture chamber. After making the candelabra in the front of the room move, Houdini's face appears on the mirror in the front of the room. The candles light themselves again and Margery congratulates guests on bringing back Houdini's spirit, and invites riders move on to Houdini's parlor, where the main ride takes place.

After sitting down in one of two sets of benches which face each other, the exit doors close and the lights dim. A crystal ball illuminates, showing Houdini's head inside the ball. He denounces Margery and other frauds who claim to bring Houdini back to the world of the living, since he claims he never left. In order to show you his power, he locks you in place with a set of magical keys (projected onto mirrors) and tells you he will show you his greatest illusion to date. The room begins to rotate, and the benches swing, leading guests At the climax of the ride, the room and benches stop so that riders should theoretically be upside down. Once the ride ends, Houdini unlocks riders from their position and allows them to leave the ride, forever believing in the power of Harry Houdini.

"Houdini's Great Escape" is a Mad House attraction, manufactured by Vekoma. The ride's benches, in reality, do not even rotate beyond 50 degrees, but they do rotate while the room spins to give the illusion of flipping. The themeing of the attraction was done by Showquest Studios. A near clone of the ride exists at Six Flags New England, called Houdini: The Great Escape, but it is inside of an opera house instead of a Victorian-style house.

Houdini was closed for safety modifications after a power failure in the park had trapped riders for a period of time. Modifications made the ride safer and it re-opened to the public.

For more pics and information about Houdini’s Great Escape and other Six Flag Great Adventure attractions, visit Great Adventure History.com.

Tony Curtis assumes THE pose

Kevin Connolly Collection

On the occasion of his 85th birthday, Kevin Connolly has shared this rare signed still of Tony Curtis from the 1953 film Houdini ("Joe" is Joe Dunniger, btw). What’s cool about this is, aside from a quick glimpse in the film, this is the first still I’ve seen of Curtis recreating this famous Houdini pose.

Recreating this pose has become de rigor publicity for the men who have played Houdini. Who did it best? You decide.

Glaser, Schaech, and Bentley assume the pose

The real deal

For more on this famous photo see: A Houdini photo you've never seen.