Sunday, December 23, 2012

January MAGIC reassess Houdini's movies

Here's a nice way to kick off 2013. Chris Philpott, who penned a report in the December issue of MAGIC about the recent screening of Houdini's movies in Hollywood, is back with another article in the January 2013 issue called, "Taking Another Look at Houdini’s Movies". Here's a tease:

Houdini’s movies are a fascinating but neglected part of his legacy. The conventional wisdom about these movies is that the stories were just excuses for his escapes and that he was a very weak actor. Story-wise, why is it a problem that the films are excuses for escapes? We don’t complain that action movies are just excuses for action scenes. The question is, are they a good excuse? A film like The Dark Knight is. Unfortunately, most of Houdini’s movies are not. As for Houdini’s acting, yes, it’s awful in spots, but most of it is fairly good and there are moments of emotional honesty, power, and charisma that hint that maybe, if things had gone a little differently, Houdini might have become a real movie star.

The 6-page article includes images from my collection as well as the collection of Arthur Moses. I don't have the issue in hand yet so I haven't given the article a read, but I'm pretty sure Chris Philpott is my new BFF.

This issue also includes a look at the new play, Harry the Great, an original production by the Creede Repertory Theatre in Colorado. The play features adventures at the 1893 World's Fair involving Florenz Ziegfeld Jr, Harry Robenstein, and a young "interloper" named Erik Weisz (their spelling).

The January issue of MAGIC is available now from the official MAGIC Magazine website.


  1. Nice! I will definately have to order me a copy.

  2. A really nice article on Houdini's brief movie career. Philpott outlines the three main reasons that cut Houdini's film apirations to the editing floor. Philpott did not want to discuss The Grim Game because he considers it ..."mostly lost." That is unfortunate.

    The URL box will not let me post my name. What gives?

    Leo Hevia

    1. Thanks Leo.

      Not sure why the box isn't letting you post your name. I don't have any control over that kind of thing. Sometimes it can glitch depending on how you entered the story -- whether you came in via a click on the headline or by clicking Comments. If you get weirdness, try coming back in a different way.

  3. I've come back John. No! Not that way! I'm still alive.

    When I click on the "Preview" box to check my post, a red box pops up that says: "URL contains illegal characters." This won't allow me to continue unless I switch to Anonymous.

    I tried choosing Open ID and still the same problem. It wasn't happening before. That pesky red box keeps popping up when I choose Open ID or Name/URL. By the way, on Dean Carnegie's site, I have the same problem. That is why I stopped posting there.

    1. Weird. I'll forward this to Blogger. Have you tried using a different browser? That could fix it. But I realize it would be a pain to have to switch browsers just to post.