Tuesday, January 19, 2021

I'm starting to think Houdini isn't always honest with us


There are many examples of Houdini stretching the truth. Claiming to be born in Appleton, being trapped under the ice of a frozen river, etc. But many of Houdini tall tales are in the service of publicity or myth-building and seem somewhat justifiable. But there's no justifying what Houdini is asking us to swallow below!

Boston Globe, October 8, 1922.

Is it at all possible Houdini really didn't notice that his movie characters all share the initials HH? That seems to stretch all credulity. I also never thought Houdini came up with the names himself. I figured it was the screenwriters who initiated the idea with The Grim Game and carried it over to Terror Island. (The Grim Game script actually just calls the character "Houdini" throughout.) Houdini then continued the tradition with his own movies because it is a great wink to the audience.

His audacity here is kind of amusing, but... Come on, Harry. It's us!

Related:

9 comments:

  1. Love it! WRT The Grim Game, he was originally Sterling Steele in the “synopsis”, then he was Harry or Harry Houdini in the “script with subtitles" and then they created a “title continuity” with new titles and he became Hanford or Harvey Hanford.
    Script sub-title example: Harry, Cameroon’s nephew, is not a welcome visitor. HARRY HOUDINI
    Title Continuity sub-title example: Harvey Hanford, Cameron’s nephew, is not a welcome visitor. HOUDINI
    BTW: I don’t buy it that Houdini changed the script sub-titles from his name to Harvey Hanford.

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    1. Oh, I forgot about Sterling Steele. I like that name. In fact, I prefer it to Harvey Hanford. The only reason I figured they changed it was just to do the HH thing.

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  2. Well, at least we were spared Harold Hecuba -- although escaping from the Island would have been a neat accomplishment.

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    1. Gilligan's Island at that. With Tina Louise and Dawn Wells trapped on that island with me, I'd rather stay for a while

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    2. Harold Hecuba was played by Phil Silvers. The character was an obnoxious and demanding film producer in a plaid jacket:

      https://gilligan.fandom.com/wiki/Harold_Hecuba#:~:text=Harold%20Hecuba%20is%20a%20loud%2C%20brash%2C%20demanding%20and,turn%20futile%20as%20they%27re%20on%20a%20deserted%20island.

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    3. I remember. I loved Gilligan's Island. :)

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  3. Even though it isn't mentioned in the article, Houdini has already made his next film, so Heath Haldane is another one he didn't notice.

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    Replies
    1. It seems that back in the early 1900s cinema, it was common to see alliteration used for titles and characters: The Perils of Pauline, and so on.

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