Sunday, November 19, 2017

Did Houdini secretly announce his return date?

Here's some speculative Sunday fun. While watching The Man From Beyond last night, I had a (wine induced) thought when this shot appeared on-screen. This is when Jane Connelly shows Howard Hillary the current date: March 14, 1922.

It's then Howard realizes he's been in the "Great Beyond" for 100+ years (apparently cars, telephones, and the clothing did not alert him). So this is his return date, which makes for a great Houdini trivia question. But could it mean something more?

The Man From Beyond was Houdini's baby. It was the first movie for his own Houdini Picture Corporation and he wrote it himself. So might this actually be an embedded message code for the future? Was Houdini using this to communicate his next 100 year return from the great beyond? Might we finally hear from Harry on March 14, 2022? Mark your calendars and remember:

Okay, so why did Houdini really choose this date? Well, it's likely it wasn't a choice at all, it was simply the date on the newspaper that he had on hand. But, interestingly, that means this shot could not have been done during the making of the actual movie. The Man From Beyond was shot in 1921. Houdini immediately went into production on Haldane of the Secret Service and went about the business of trying to find distribution for The Man From Beyond. This took longer than he may have anticipated.

It was 1922 before Houdini decided to release the movie using the States Rights model. So to bring the movie up to date (it premiered on April 2, 1922), Houdini appears to have created a new insert shot. Further evidence that this is an insert is the fact that it's clearly not Jane Connelly's finger pointing at the date. That's Houdini's finger. And Houdini was performing at the Riverside Theater near Buffalo on March 14, 1922 where he'd have access to a Buffalo newspaper. So there we go.

Houdini did have some fun with other dates in this movie. Early in the story, the Arctic explorers discover a note written by Hillary during his final days in the 19th century. Look at the date Houdini uses here:

For more on the making of The Man From Beyond, check out the links below.



  1. Wow, great catch on the newspaper date/shot being updated after the movie was made to coincide with the release.

    1. Fun stuff. :) I also realized that Hillary gets knocked into his coma in 1820, so he's actually been on ice for 102 years, not the 100 that all the advertising refers to. I'm wondering if this is because HH wrote the movie in 1920?

    2. Well that probably means we won't see him again until 2024.