Monday, August 7, 2023

Houdini and The Mummy's Hand

My bedtime reading these days is Tom Weaver's latest "Scripts from the Crypt" series about Universal's The Mummy's Hand (1940). I'm a big fan of Universal horror (an interest that pre-dates Houdini) and I love these books just as I loved Philip Riley's MagicImage Filmbooks that inspired them. But what does this have to do with Houdini, you ask?

The other night I popped in The Mummy's Hand and I was surprised to hear Houdini get a name check when the character of Steve Banning says, "This hopeless Houdini is Babe Jenson." (In the the script he says "fumbling Houdini".) 

Normally this wouldn't warrant a post as Houdini gets name checked in many movies. However, it struck me that this is the earliest mention I've yet encountered in a film made after Houdini's death (Cops would be the earliest movie overall). I also tend to think of the 1940s as a decade in which Houdini went into a bit of cultural eclipse, so that made this reference all the more surprising.

If you know of an earlier mention, please share in the comments. And if you want to pick up Tom Weaver's The Mummy's Hand, you can do so on



  1. Babe Jensen was played by my uncle, Wallace Ford. In the late twenties/early thirties, Wally was set to play the lead in a play by Fulton Oursler called "the Fox." The names were changed, but, the main character was clearly Houdini.

    1. Interesting! Thank you. This book has a nice lengthy chapter all about the life and career of your uncle. :)

      On the topic of Fulton Oursler, you can read about another unmade Oursler-Houdini project HERE.