Harry Houdini was one of the first movie stars in addition to being a magician and escape artist. One of the biggest movie stars in the history of the universe-Tony Curtis-played Houdini in a movie. And yet, you know something? Harry Houdini has yet to have a good, authentic movie made about him.
Joe Wright wants to change that.
He could do it. Joe Wright knows a thing or two about making great movies. "Atonement" is one of the all-time greatest movies ever made about the act of writing. Maybe you have to be a writer to fully appreciate the profound philosophical underpinnings of "Atonement." If Joe Wright has half the insight into the art of being a magician or escape artist that he has into writing, then his movie about Harry Houdini should be an escape from the truly astounding streak of thoroughly unrealistic films made about the man whose actual life is ten times more interesting than the fictionalized versions made about him.
Tony Curtis could definitely have pulled off Houdini. Like the great escape artist, Curtis was a little Jewish guy who changed his name to become a superstar. If there was any actor in the world who understood what Houdini's life must have been like at the moment in time that "Houdini" was made it would have been Tony Curtis. Too bad the writer of "Houdini" was more interested in making a Tony Curtis vehicle.
What was completely missing from the Curtis version of Houdini's life that may be more than touched upon by Joe Wright's film is the far lesser known but incredibly fascinating portion of his life in which a desperate search for a way to connect spiritually with his dead mother transformed into a crusade to reveal fake mediums and spiritualists. This brought Houdini into conflict with his close friend Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes yet paradoxically a very easily duped believer in the world of the supernatural.
If Joe Wright is successful at making the first authentic movie about the life of Harry Houdini, he could be responsible for finding some atonement for the sins of past filmmakers.
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