Combustible Celluloid
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With: Harry Houdini, Marguerite Marsh, Ruth Stonehouse, Edna Britton, William Pike, Charles Graham, Floyd Buckley, Jack Burns, Arthur Maude, Albert Tavernier, Erwin Connelly, Frank Montgomery, Luis Alberni, Yale Benner, Jane Connelly, Nita Naldi, Jack Brammall, Lila Lee, Wilton Taylor, Eugene Pallette, Ed Brady, Frank Bonner, Ted Duncan, F.A. Turner, Rosemary Theby, Gladys Leslie, William Humphrey, Richard Carlyle, Edward Boulden, Jane Jennings, Charles Fang, Myrtle Morse, Irving Brooks
Written by: Arthur B. Reeve, John Grey, Walter Woods, Harry Houdini, Charles Logue, Coolidge Streeter
Directed by: Harry Houdini, Burton L. King, James Cruze, Harry Grossman
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 450
Date: 03/18/2013

Houdini: The Movie Star (2008)

3 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

These days the movies seem to be a second home for those with careers in other fields. Rap stars, pop stars, reality TV stars, sports stars and supermodels all seem to want to try their hand at big screen movies, regardless of the work, training and talent that might be required. But this is not a new phenomenon, as shown by Kino's new three-disc box set Houdini: The Movie Star. The famous escape artist, here credited as "self liberator," concocted his own series of movies, wherein his character always got to escape from some ludicrous situation. The set begins with a four-hour serial, The Master Mystery (1919), and continues with a series of shorter feature films: Terror Island (1920), The Man from Beyond (1922) and Haldane of the Secret Service (1923) as well as a surviving fragment of The Grim Game (1919). The films are pretty wretched and Houdini was no great actor (and he wasn't much to look at, either), but it's a lot of fun watching him wriggling out of straitjackets and other traps. Indeed, this box set has great value merely as a cinematic record of this famous magician, whose name has transcended the years. The set also comes with several short clips of Houdini performing his feats in public, as well as various other goodies.

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