|Title card on the '77 repeat and current versions of The Great Houdinis.|
Was the 1976 ABC TV movie called The Great Houdini (singular) or The Great Houdinis (plural)? This has been a surprisingly tricky question to answer. While the original publicity material shows the film as being called The Great Houdinis, the title card on the surviving film shows it as The Great Houdini. Because of this, most sources now call the movie The Great Houdini, including IMDb.
However, I've always believed that the title card was changed to the singular for the 1977 repeat. I think I've even stated it as fact. But I've never actually been able to prove it.
Now thanks to our friend MSW, who has an original work print in his collection, and the Magic Castle library, who have what appears to be a recording of the original '76 broadcast, I was finally able to confirm that the title on the original film was The Great Houdinis (plural). The title card was indeed changed for the repeat broadcast on April 6, 1977, and this modified version is what found its way onto home video in Europe and is the only version available today.
But when the title rolled on October 8, 1976, it was...
|Original title card on the 1976 work print.|
And just to make matters a little more complicated, there is also a difference between the 1976 work print and the broadcast version. The work print shows the title against a black background like the '77 version. But the Castle's broadcast version shows it superimposed over an image of Houdini. Either way, the title is plural.
|1976 broadcast with superimposed title card.|
By the way, I did not have time to examine the work print in its entirety, but I have long heard talk -- from no less of a source than Adrienne Barbeau herself -- of a more risque "semi-nude" version of the Daisy White seduction scene.
Click here for the 'Making of The Great Houdinis'
UPDATE: I've now watched the complete work print, and besides the main title, there is no difference between this, the '77 repeat, and the UK home video version.
UPDATE 2: I recently had a look at a print in the UCLA Film & Television Archive and it also had the superimposed plural title card as seen on the Magic Castle's broadcast tape.