Houdini (1953) - full transcript

The amazing career of master magician Harry Houdini is presented from his beginnings with a carnival "wild man" act to his emergence as an internationally-acclaimed illusionist, From his dramatic escape from a locked safe under the frozen Detroit River to an even more improbable one from a locked cell in Scotland Yard, he never failed to please and astound his audiences. Although Houdini's tricks are achieved through his marvelous physical dexterity and innate sleight-of-hand, he courted death with the hazardous illusions he performed and his compulsive quest to make contact with the spirit world.

Let's enter, young ladies.

Our show is the act of refinement.

It will astound you and amaze you.

It is also educational, and it costs you only 10 cents.

- Come on, let's go inside.
- But we told the dean w were going to the art institute.

- If they find out we'll get in trouble.
- He said it was educational, didn't he?

- Let's go.
- Come on!

Right this way, young ladies.
Four tickets for the young ladies.

And now ladies and gentlemen...

If you follow me to the outer range of the museum...

As we approach the cage, proceed with extreme cautious.

Because, as I introduced to you Pluto, the wild man

who was captured in the wild of Africa,

he's just as wild and ferocious today

as the day he was captured.

Not too close, ladies, because it was women
that made the wild man wild.

If you please, Mr. Schultz.

Stop it! Stop it!

- If you treat him like a beast then he becomes one.
- What do you mean?

Just stop hitting him, that's all.

- Look out! Are you crazy?
- You made him that way! Don't beat him anymore!


Now, if you young ladies and the rest of you folks
will just follow up to the next platform

I want to introduce you to the
world'd greatest phenomenon:

The Pretzel twins.

They will bend, twist and curve in a...

Now look here, young lady, if you don't leave
that man alone you have to leave the place.

- Why? I didn't do anything to him.
- He's dangerous.

Last time he grabbed a girl she disappeared, puff!

Now leave! Leave him alone!

What's the matter with you?

- Hi, Harry.
- Hi, Joan.

Thank you, Mary and Sadie.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, if we all
just move over to the next platform,

I want to introduce to you a man

who has all the wizardry of modern magic at his fingertips.

Not a man of 1,000 tricks, but a man of 10,000 tricks.

He will not only amaze and astound you,

but will confound you with his modern piece of magic.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Great Houdini.

Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen.

For my first trick, a small miracle.

As you see, I have just an ordinary piece of paper.

I take the paper and form a simple cone.

I bend the end.

If you place your attention to the
pitcher of milk on the table,

I take the milk and pour it into the magic cone.

To the doubting comers who don't believe this is milk
I pour it into the glass.


For the young ladies who like sweet milk

I add a little sugar.

I pick the wand, stir it just a little bit...


One, two, three!

Evaporated milk.

That magic's gotta go.

It slows up the turnover.

You can see that, can't you?

Yeah, but he won't play the wild man
unless I let him do those tired tricks.

Are you the boss, or aren't you, huh?

Don't you see how all the girls go for the wild man?

That boy has got something, and he won't forget a magic.

Now, for my next trick I shall need the assistence
of some volunteer from the audience.

Young lady, would you kindly step upon the platform?

Oh, I can't do anything like that.
I don't want to.

- Go, go.
- I don't wanna go in front of the audience!

- Come right up here. Don't be afraid.
- I...

Thank you. Let's give the young lady a nice hand.

- And this is for assisting me.
- Oh, thank you!

What is your name, young lady?

- I don't have the habit to give my name to strangers.
- She has not the habit to give her name to strangers.

Uh, have we met before?

- Certainly not!
- Much to my misfortune.

Now, will you kindly write your name down on
this piece of paper. Don't let me see it! Please!

- Fine.
- Thank you.

- Have you written it?
- Yes.

Now, put it in the flame and drop it in the urn.

Now concentrate on your name while it's burning.

- Are you concentrating?
- Yes.

- Is it burning?
- Yes.

Thank you very much.

Now, may I have your hand, please?

Oh, please, it's gonna help the vibrations.

Thank you.

Now, will you close your eyes and concentrate?

- Um, you're not concentrating.
- Oh.

I want you to hold my hand real tight, and concentrate,

because I'm going to read your thoughts.

- Oh, my goodness.
- Please, you must concentrate.

- All right.
- Thank you.

Oh, now I'm getting an image.

And it's a good one.

Oh! I take some ashes...

watch me carefully...

I rub it on my arm.


There! Is that your name? Bess?

- Yes!
- Thanks.

Do you see? The vibrations do help.

- Thank you. Thank you very much.
- And I thank you.

Now, folks, if you step in this direction
to the next exhibit.

Oh, I... Don't go. This is for you.

Oh. Thank you.

Don't go.

Let go of my arm.

But if I let you go, I'll never see you again.

I have no intention of seeing you again.


And now, folks, you could step over in this direction

I will introduce you to the little people
The Mystic Isle of Little People.

Believe me when I announce:
their names are Mr. and Mrs. Bigger.

Probably because he is bigger than she is.

He doesn't say anything because like
all normal husbands he's not allowed to.

Now, in normal life, just like you and me,

she lives in a big home, he lives in a small house.

Don't be afraid!

- I'm not afraid.
- Then come here.

You should better get back in your tent
before they whip you.

You wouldn't let them whip me, would you?

- I wish I could help you.
- Well, you can.

- How?
- By having dinner with me tonight.

- Oh, that's the most ridiculous...
- Oh, Bess...

- I just wanted to meet you.
- Well, you failed!

No, no, Bess...

- Excuse me, ma'am.
- Excuse me. Bess...

- The wild man!
- No, ma'am...

- Please, let me explain.
- Get away from me!

- Bess, I've gotta talk to you!
- I don't wanna meet the two of you.

Oh, you could've tears in your eyes for the wild man,
but for the great Houdini nothing?

- You're crazy!
- Bess!

Get your junk out of here! You are fired!

- All right!
- Now, wait a minute!

We can't let him go! I told you....

Let him go! He is fired!

What made you wanna come to Coney Island tonight?

Oh, I don't know, I just wanted to go.

Now that we are here, we could skip these things
and going somewhere to ride.

All right. Let's go over there.

- Let's go in here instead.
- But you said you wanted a ride.

Oh, we will. Yeah, but later.
Let's go in here first. Please!

Huh, Houdini the Great.

Watch it! Watch it closely, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Will Houdini survive or will he become
beheaded on this block?

Watch it, watch it, Ladies and Gentlemen.

This is without a doubt the most dangerous feat
ever performed before the public.

- Are the ropes securely tied, gentlemen?
- Oh, yes, sir.

Thank you, thank you very much.
Now, before I start the conveyor...

Ladies and Gentlemen, before I move the switch
let's be quiet and make a silent prayer.

Thank you very much.

And now, Houdini, are you ready to defy death?

I'm ready.

Ladies and Gentlemen, watch it closely.
I will demonstrate before your very eyes

the murderous power of this saw.

There he goes, Ladies and Gentlemen, on his way to doom.

There's only six feet between him and a horrible death.

This is the most death-defying feat of all time.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 5 feet, 5, feet.
He's in trouble now!

Hurry up, hurry up, Houdini, you haven't much time!

4 feet, Ladies and Gentlemen, just 4, now 3!

3 feet, a scary yard, Ladies and Gentlemen!

I can't stand to look at it any longer!

Oh, no, Ladies and Gentlemen, I can't bear to watch it.

I only hope nothing goes wrong.

You are braver than I, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Stop it! Stop it! Stop that thing!

He made it!

Wasn't that tremendous, Ladies and Gentlemen?
Wasn't that tremendous?

But he might not make it the next time.

Come and bring your friends, Ladies and Gentlemen.

The next show starts in one half hour.

Thank you, thank you very much.

- Is anything wrong?
- No.

Ladies and gentlemen,

we have this evening a new attraction
for your special edification.

For centuries man has been searching
for the fountain of youth.

Professor Allegari has come all the way from Italy

to demonstrate his sensational discovery.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your special edification

- I give you Professor Allegari!
- Someone you know? - No!

- Then stop looking at him.
- I can't help it.

Ladies and gentlemen,

if there's an elderly gentleman in the house

who would like to become young again,

please, step right up here, and I wiill rejuvenate him.


Here's someone that longed in this world.

- Would you be so kind?
- What?

- Would you like to be rejuvenated?
- You didn't have to ask, son. Thank you.

I don't know what the axeman will say about this
but I'm sure I'll give it a try.

- Oh, um, pardon me, young Lady.
- It's all right.

Excuse me.

This way, please.


That's the same fellow we saw
at Coney Island last week.

I know.

Oh, that's why you insisted to come here, isn't it?

- I had no idea he would be here.
- Then why did you pick this of all places to come?

I don't know, Fred.

Do you mind if we go?

- But we just got here!
- I don't know what's the matter. Let's go.

What happened to the party that was here?

I don't know. They just left.

They didn't even order anything.

I looked for you at the museum

and looked for you at Coney Island.

but you keep running away.

This time I came back.


I don't know.

I do.

For the same reason I took this job.

I knew you would come here.


how could you know?

Well, everything happens to me in threes.

This is the third time we've met.

I know.

I shouldn't even be here.

We're strangers.

We were never strangers.

I thought you said you forgot your gloves.

I didn't wear gloves tonight, Fred.

Come on, Bess, they're waiting.

I'm not going.

- Look, I brought you here and I'm taking you home again.
- I'm not going.

- What is the trouble?
- No trouble at all. We're leaving.

You are leaving.

- Come on. Let's not have any trouble.
- I'm sorry, miss. - It's all right.

But she came with me and she's leaving with me.

Would you like to dance?

I would love to.

I've only got one more show to do.

Then where would you like to go?

Wherever you go.

Is that you, Harry?

Yes, Mama. Good night.

Son, would you like to have a glas of milk?

Uh... Mom, this is Bess.

- Bess.
- Bess, this is Mom.

I'm so glad to know you.

Isn't she wonderful, mother?

Yes, she is very pretty.

Thank you.

Oh, it's... it's a wonderful night tonight. Isn't it?

I never saw a more wonderful night.

Well, now that everything is so wonderful,

what are your two wonderful people up to?

Oh, I was gonna show her some of my magic.

At 2 o'clock in the morning?

It is?

Oh, we didn't mean to disturb you.

No, we promise not to make any noise,
so you go back to bed, Mom.

- Isn't it a little late for the young lady to be out?
- Oh, no, it's all right. Isn't it, Harry?

Y-Yes. You see, she has no school tomorrow.

- No school?
- No. She stays at a girls' school.

And... And I'm locked out.

- Locked out?
- Uh-huh.

Oh, child, that's nothing to worry about.

You can spend the night with me.

- Oh, no, I wouldn't want to put you through any trouble.
- No trouble at all. We have lots of room.

- But...
- No, Mother, I'll fix the place for her.

- She could take my room.
- She'll do no such thing.

No, Harry. I think it's time we talk about...

On second thought I think it would be better if she did
go back to school. They're probably worried about her.

- I... I can't go back now.
- Yes, you can. Good night, Mama.

- Why didn't you tell her?
- Oh, Bess, honey, I couldn't.

We got married so quick and all...

But I'll tell her first thing in the morning.
Honest, I will.

It would be much better if you told her tonight.

It'll be better in the morning. We're leaving anyway.

Harry, I don't like this.

I wish we'd tell her now.

She would just keep us up all night talking about it.

We made it.

- I love you.
- I love you.

Here's a nightgown for you, darling.

I think it will fit.


Did you think you could fool your mother, Harry?

I just wanted to see how far you would go.

I like her, Harry.

Good night.


Harry, what are you doing?

I'm working on a brandnew trick. Come here.



You said you wanted to be in the act.

- Yes, but not now.
- Oh, come on, I need you.

- What do I have to do?
- Get in the box.

- What does that do?
- You'll see later.

- Oh, Harry, I'm not going to lay in there.
- Now get into the box.

- If you say so.
- Now put your feet through here.

- This is ridiculous.
- Put your feet here.

- You wake me up in the middle of the night.
- Now put your head through there. - Through there?

I don't like this at all. I'm scared.

- Watch your fingers.
- What would people say if they could see me here now?

- We won't tell a soul. You're comfortable?
- As comfortable as I could be.

- Good.
- Harry, I'm scared though.

What are you doing down there, huh?

- Fixing this in.
- Oh, don't do that. That's not fair. Don't.

Don't, Harry. I'm nervous.
Where are you? What are you doing?

- I went to get the saw.
- The saw? What are you gonna do with that?

- I'm gonna saw you in half.
- Oh, no, Harry, no, you're not! I won't let you!

- Harry, let me out of here! Harry!
- Sssh!

- Do you wanna wake mother?
- Harry, get me out of here!

- It's not gonna hurt. Close your eyes.
- How do you know that? You're not inside!

Oh, Harry! Harry, I'm scared! Harry, let me out of here!


Harry, I'm sacred! Harry!

- Don't worry!
- Aw! Harry! Harry!

It's a great effect, isn't it?

Yes, it's... it's great but will we

- have to do something like this every night?
- Was it so awful?

No, but I expected something different
on my wedding night.

♪ Bumm, bumm ♪

♪ Bumm, bumm, bumm ♪

♪ The bell in the bay ♪

♪ On the day ♪

♪ That my love sailed away ♪

♪ And the gold wheeling high ♪

♪ As farewell from the sky ♪

♪ But the bell ♪

♪ In the bay ♪

♪ Said goodbye ♪

I'll shoot them!

Calm down! Put your gun down!

That's the way they show their appreciation.

Appreciation? Baaa! Oh, you...

- Come on, honey, you're next.
- Me? I have to go out there?

- They love magicians in West-Virginia.
- Are you sure?

Oh, yeah, go on. You go around there.

Music, maestro, please.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Now, if you keep your eye to my charming assistant...

then I shall let go the goldfish, dissolved in thin air.

One, two...

Oh, the poor goldfish.

At least give us a chance.

Go learning!

For my next trick...

I will create an effect never permormed on any stage.

I will disappear from this spot

right before you eyes.

Well, hurry up and disappear!

I'll help him disappear.

Don't worry, folks, I'm right here.

They like you, son. They like you.
Go get your wife to hear the applause.

Bess, listen to that. Listen to that applause.
I've got them eating right out of my hand.

What's the matter, baby?

What's the matter?

They ruined our performance. I almost my leg on a
crushed tomato, and you ask me what's the matter?

We are not in the showbusiness,
we're targets in a shooting contest.

We won't always have to play before an audience like that.

- It has been like this in the last two years.
- But it finally gets better.

Here's what's left from the goldfish.
We haven't found the rest yet.

You have to hurry up because the
night train to Wheeling is on time.

Thanks. Wheeling. We probably get shot there.

Harry, let's go back to New York.

We can't get bookings in New York.

We could take that job in the safe factory.


With your knowledge of locks and combinations
I'm sure that they pay you well.


Will you try it, Harry?


Why not?

I am a magician, not a locksmith.

You can't pull bread out of your hat.

Well, if you want bread you should've married a baker.

At least a baker makes something that people want.

Nobody seems to want your magic, Harry.

There's nothing new in card tricks.

Going through trapped doors or escape from cabinets.

- What does it all mean?
- I don't know what it means.

I only know what it does to me.

Like tonight when I did that disappearing act.

Tough as they were, you should have seen their faces.

I gave them a thrill, something
they take home and talk about.

So you thrill them for a minute,
but tomorrow it will be forgotten.

Next time I'll give them a bigger thrill,
something they won't forget so soon.

The audience is never satisfied.

They love you for the moment that you please them.

Darling, I love you forever. I'd like to make
a home for us, something that last...

- if you just let me.
- Magic is all I know.

- Oh, you could be anything you wanted to be.
- How?

I never went to school.

I started working when I was 9 years old
with a magician in a tent show.

If I quit now and take that job in that factory,
I'll be there for the rest of my life.

Oh, Bess,

I didn't marry you to give you that kind of a life.

Oh, honey, darling, don't you understand?

I'm so tired riding milk-trains
and living out of suitcases.

I'd be satisfied if we just once could spend
two nights in the same place.

Hey, didn't you pack that staff yet?
Come on, let's go! That train only stops for the milk.

We'll be right there.

Well, we got to hurry.

Unhook me, please.

Quick, Harry.

Harry? Oh.

We're gonna miss the train!

Oh, Mr. Brown.

When do you think I'll get a chance to work on the safes?

- What's the matter? Don't you like your job?
- Oh, I like it well enough,

but you could train chimpanze for the work I'm doing.

Not a bad idea, son. Drop it in the suggestion box.

I guess you were working on the big safes
a long time, haven't you?

- About 40 years.
- Is that sol? - Yeah.

I was wondering, if someone accidentally
got locked up in one of them,

could they get out by working the tumblers
from the inside?

- Not in my safe.
- They couldn't, huh? - No.

Let me try it sometime?

Certainly not. Are you crazy?

- No, I was just asking.
- Well, go back and do your work and leave me alone.

- Sorry, I was just wondering.
- Go on.

What kind of people they get
to work around here nowadays?

Hi, Ma.

Hello, honey.

- How you're doing?
- How are you? - Fine.

- How was work today?
- Just great.

I opened 8,642 locks.

Oh, cheer up, Harry.

- They'll let you work on the big safes soon.
- Oh, sure, in about 40 years.

Well, at least we're not dodging tomatoes
and you get paid every Saturday night.

Thank you.

- Harry?
- Hm?

You're two and a half dollars short.

- Am I?
- Uhuh.

Uh, you didn't stop anyplace, did you?

As a matter of fact, I did.

I had a chance to pick up a bargain.

Oh, really? Where is it and what is it?

- Uh, they're good ones.
- Oh, I'm sure.

Here, I'll prove it to you. Put them on.

Now make sure they're locked good.

- They're locked. - You're sure? - Uhuh.
- Wouldn't think that I could get out of them, would you?

Now cover them with the towel.

That's right.

That makes 8,643 locks that I have opened today.

That's very nice, Harry.

I better finish washing.

Dinner is just about to be ready.

Just a minute.

We're not eating here.

I'm taking you out for dinner.

- Taking me out? Oh, where are we going?
- Well, that's a surprise but...

- Oh, what do I wear? Oh, Mama, how is the dress?
- It's all finished, except the belt.

Oh! Finished? Oh, thank you!

- The Astor? Can we afford it?
- Nothing but the best for you, my love.

Thank you.

There is, uh, quite a few magicians
here tonight, isn't there?

Magic's getting to be quite a hobby.

- It's actually a model of a very old...
- Oh, what's going on up there?

But today we discovered that if we use a machine
like this correctly, we can place an object in the hole.

We can pass the blade through the object

with absolutely no damage to either the cabbage

or the celery down below.

Watch the miracle of magic ready: One...

two, three...

Something seems to have gone wrong.

I tell you, I don't have another cabbage
and I did want to do this tonight.

Ah, but I did bring a young lady with me. I wonder
if you would might helping. Would you, please?

- You're not afraid, are you?
- No.


Just kneel down, please, and put your head there.

And just make sure you don't go anyplace
for a few minutes. I'll lock you in. Right so.

Is your head-on good and tight?


Alright, ready again then.

At the count of three...

watch the blade.

Ready. One, two, three!

You see, Ladies and Gentlemen,

the object of this trick is to make it
to look as vicious as possible...

but not doing any damage to the young lady.

Now, that didn't hurt, did it?

Where's the young lady?

That was very good. Thank you.
And thank you, little lady.

She keeps her head very well.

Ladies and gentlemen,

for the finale of this evening's entertainment and, uh...

before we have our dinner,

we offer a challenge in escape routines
that has never been tried before.

I will ask for volunteers.

Bring on the restraints.

- That's right.
- Harry.

Right up.

- But they're just asking.
- Come along.

Now let me see how many have we here.
One, two, three, four...

Oh, come, gentlemen, this is for the grand prize.
We need one more volunteer.

Now, fellas, these are regulated straitjackets

wich had bo loaned to us
fot this occasion by a hospital.

Uh, no inmate has ever escaped from one of these.

Are you sure there isn't one more
brave soul in this gathering?


Oh, go ahead, and embarrass yourself. Go on.

- Here.
- Ah.

Would you take your coat off? Put it right over there.
Would a couple of you gentlemen help us?

We have your little evening jacket right here.

That's right.

Let's strap it good and tight. Here. Ready?

Now, right on first, then the left, that's it.
That's really good.

Strap him up good and tight there.

- I'll be back here.
- All right. Fine.

Come along, let's line up there.

Hurry up, boys.

That's it. Line up there.

In the line. All clear.


As you can see, Ladies and Gentlemen, one
has to be a little crazy to put on one of these.

Now, Gentlemen, the stage is yours.

And good luck. Music, please.


Magnificent, my boy. Magnificent.

And I guess there's no doubt
who wins the prize.

There you are, my boy, and good luck to you.

You know, Mr. Houdini,

no one has ever escaped from a straitjacket before.

I've been a magician for over 40 years. I've...

been in quite a few places,
did a quite of few things in my time, but...

there was always some explanation, some trick.

Tonight there was none.

There couldn't have been.

Yet, you got out.

I'm sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Malue,
but it was a trick.

- Have you done it before?
- No, but it's still a trick.

We must all guard our secrets.
I can't ask you how you did it.

But if you take a little advice from an old man:

Drop it. Give it up.

But why if I made such an impression?

Because it isn't a trick.

You've seen something like this before, haven't you?

Where? Who did it?

Well, it was many years ago in Berlin.

A man named Von Schweger.

There was nothing unusual about his act until the finish.

Then he was sealed inside a giant bottle.

Now, the bottle was not faked,

yet, he got out.

How could he get out of a sealed bottle?

The talk was that Von Schweger was able to dematerialize.

Of course, it was only talk.

Von Schweger... Von Schweger...

I've read all the books on the great magicians,

but I've never seen his name mentioned.

Just when he could've made a name for himself,
he quit the profession.


No one knows for sure.

But I think he was frightened by what he was able to do.

I'd like to meet him.

Is he still alive?

Last I heard he was,

but he never sees anyone.

Oh, we seem to be about the last to leave.

- Good night, Mrs. Houdini. I twas nice to meet you.
- Good night. Thank you.

Good night, sir.

Drop it. Drop it.

It will make you famous,

but it will kill you.

You're not happy, are you, Harry?

Why shouldn't I be?

Because I stopped you from doing
what you really want to do.

I won't lie to you, Bess.

I'd rather do magic than test locks.

But I'm happy. Believe me, I am.

The audience does something to you, Harry.

Like tonight, when you got out of the straitjacket
and everyone applauded,

you... you were like a different person.

Which "Me" do you like the most?

I like the both very much.

Hey! We forgot about the prize that you won.

- It's in my coat pocket.
- I'll get it.

Here it is.

What is it?

- It's a boat ticket.
- A boat ticket? - Uh-huh.

To Europe.


Oh, Bess, that's where I've always wanted to go.

That's where I really could learn something.

Why, I might even meet Von Schweger.

Well, it's a round-trip passage for one.

We can trade it in for two one-ways, can't we?

Or we could cash it in for a down-payment on a house.

If we don't take this opportunity,
we'll never get it again.

It's more important to you than anything, isn't it?

Tonight's Halloween.

Something strange always happens to me on Halloween night.

We can't pass it up.

It's your ticket, Harry, you won it.

I won't stop you if you wanna go.

Well, I won't go alone.

And I won't go with you.

You're just afraid because of what he said tonight.

I'm more than just afraid.

He's an old man. They're always afraid of new things.

We shouldn't be.

Maybe I shouldn't be, but I am.

Well, I can't live without you.

Cash it in.

Oh, Harry.

Harry, darling.

Time's up!

Here's your quarter. Get ready.

Are you sure you can get out?

I'll be out before they know I'm in.


What are you doing over there?

- Now you've done it.
- It'a all right.

- He told me to do it. He said he could get out.
- But he can't get out.

Mr. Bown. Mr. Brown. Where is Mr. Brown?

Mr. Brown, there's a man locked up in the safe.

- Well, can't you open this?
- No, the timelock is on.

It's up for 24 hours. It won't open till tomorrow.

- Who is in there?
- Houdini. - Oh, I might've known this.

But we can't let him die in there.

- That'd give the company a bad name.
- Yeah.

- We've got to think of something.
- There's one thing, but it'll ruin the safe.

Well, ruin it. A man's life is at stake.

- Get clear! It's a short fuse.
- Get back!

What you'd blow it up for?

If you'd given me a little more time, I'd gotten out.

You're fired!

I still don't understand what you
where doing inside that safe.

I told you a hundred times I was having my lunch.

You did it deliberately.

You wanted to get fired.

Why would I do a crazy thing like that?

So you could go back to be a magician.

What's wrong with magicians?

That's what I was when you married me.

Well, if you love your magic more than
you love me, good luck to both of you,

because I'm leaving!

Go talk to her, Harry. Don't let her leave.

Look at this soup. It's like water!

Where did she ever learn to cook anyway?

I made the soup!

You can stop packing! I'm the one that's leaving!

- Harry, where are you going?
- Where they don't water the soup!

...being a time in captivity.

Oscar, the human sea serpent.

- Half man, half...
- It's over there. - Thank you.

- Hey, just a minute, lady.
- That is all right.

All right, all right, come in here!

Ladies and gentlemen, my latest invention:

The metamorphosis.

Music, please.

Now, please, examine the trunk and see
that there's no means of escape.


Now, will you pick it up and turn it around and
show the audience that it's just an ordinary trunk.

Thank you.

Would you fasten these to my wrist, please?

A bag.

Are they secure?

Now, tie it.

Thank you.

I'm sorry, you won't be able to go this trip. No.


Now, tie it with the rope.

Good sailor knots.


Ah! You hold the key.


Ladies and gentlemen, the metamorphosis.





five, six, seven...

All right.

Gentlemen, would you please untie the ropes
that you yourself tied?

Now, if you unlock the trunk, make sure there's
no change and nothing had been touched.

And the bag.

Untie it, please.

You fake!


Did I hear someone yell "Fake"?

I'm Dooley of the London Examiner!

I say all you yank magicians are fakes!

And that's a trick-trunk!

I'd like you'd get out of something real.

I resent your remarks.

I'll offer £ 100 to anyone

who can lock me up in anything I can not escape from!

Just a minute! Just a minute!

Mr. Houdini! Mr. Houdini!

Let the gentleman speak!

Mr. Houdini, I challenge you to escape
from one of our London jails.

I'd like nothing better than to accept
your challenge, Mr. Dooley,

but I'm afraid the authorities will not permit it.

I see Inspector Marlick from Scotland Yard
is in the audience.

What do you say now, yank?

My offer still stands.

Let's teach the yank a lesson, Inspector.

All that fake is bluff!

- Lock him up! - Sure he can't fool Scotland Yard.
- Oh, no, no, it's hardly done.

Please! Please!

I'll admit that Scotland Yard has the
finest police panes in the world,

but these old sardine cans you call jails

are no challenge for the great Houdini.

Did you hear that, Inspector?
You can't let him get away with it!

Inspector, don't let him get away with that!

You tell him!

I believe we can arrange to accomodate Mr. Houdini.

Thank you very much, Inspector,

but it'll have to be in the morning
before I have a matinee tomorrow.

Very good.

- There's one condition however.
- Yes, sir.

Unless you can escape

you'll remain locked up for 24 hours.

Haha! Bravo!

I have never missed a performances.

Come and see me here tomorrow afternoon.

Uh, that goes to you, too, Mr. Dooley.

- You won't be here!
- I'll be here! Good night, all!

Oh, you really got that audience steamed up tonight.

That means a packed house tomorrow.


I'll have to see the manager about
better billing, increase the salary...

- Harry.
- What?

What happens if you can't get out tomorrow?

I could open that locks with a button hook.

I hope so.


- Went great, didn't it, yank?
- You should've been an actor.

I wasn't so bad, was I?

Say, how big is the chance that we'll get into the papers?

Look, you just get out of that jail, Mr. Houdini,
and I'll guarantee that you make the front page.

I'll get out.

You gonna need a picture.

- Which one?
- Uh, I like this one.

And play it up big.

Ah, now I'd trouble you for that £ 2.

Well, I'll give it to you tomorrow,
right after the matinee.

Look, yank, old boy,

my end of the bargain was to get you in jail.

You promised me £ 2.

I want it now because tomorrow
you might not be here to pay me.


Thank you.

Oh, and by the way, I forgot to tell you

that in our jails the cells are built
different than in the States.

The locks aren't in the doors

Good luck, yank.

I assure, Inspector, my jail is escape-proofed.

Mr. Houdini seems to think otherwise.

We shall see. We shall see.

As you can see, Inspector,

you can look too, Mr. Houdini,

this is no ordinary cell block.

The lock can only be opened from the outside.

And you can't reach it from inside the cell.

Do you still want to try?

Keys won't help you, Mr. Houdini, but we'll make sure.

I'll take the hat

and the coat.

Let's have the belt.

Open your mouth.

The pin, and the tie.

Now let's have the shoes, too.

I have heard about these trick-heels.

Alright, then, left your pockets out.

Turn around.

And just so you'll have something to play with,

here's some nice pretty bracelets for ya.

Now, Mr. Houdini,

your things will be right outside the door.

In case you make it..

Don't worry, we'll see you in 24 hours.

We won't let you starve.

Tea is twelve to four, and dinner at six.

Good luck, yank.

- Warden.
- Yes, what is it?

Maybe you can use them on someone else.

We'll see who'll the last laugh, Mr. Houdini!

No getting there.

I've tried.

You can't do it.

- Ladies and gentlemen...
- We want Houdini! Come on! We want Houdini!

We want Houdini! We want Houdini!

We want Houdini! We want Houdini! We want Houdini!

Please! Please, ladies and gentlemen.

Due to circumstances beyond our control

Mr. Houdini has been unavoidably detained.

- We know! He's in our jail!
- Right you are!

Please! Please, I...

I know how you feel.

While Mr. Houdini can not appear before you in person,

he will not disappoint you.

Well, where is he? Where is he?

Please! Please.

He is sending his alter ego

from the spiritual world to take his place, and...

we will need complete silence

if Mr. Houdini's alter ego

is to appear.

It's impossible!

Just a minute! Just a minute!

Mr. Houdini,

maybe you got out of our jail,

but I've got something you can't get out from.


Put out your hands.

Put out your hands!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

nobody can get out of these cuffs!

I've made them myself and there ain't no key!

The only way to get them off is saw them off!

Anybody who wants to go out for a bit of
fish and chips shall have plenty of time!

Are you willing to stay there for the night?

I say he is.

- Where's me handcuffs?
- Oh, I'm sorry.

Mr. Houdini,

let me be the first to congratulate you.

It seems that our escape-proofed jail
has a bit of a hole in it.

Mr. Houdini, we've had our operator checked
every Von Schweger in the Berlin telephone book,

but none of them seem to be the one you're looking for.

Thank you very much.

All these letters that I sent to him
come back the same way.

Address unknown, does not live at this address...

Why don't you forget it, Harry?

- I...
- Hm?

I bet you've forgotten what day this is.

But I haven't.

It's my birthday.

Oh, I thought, sure you would forget.

I'd like to.

- Say, have you noticed all the grey hairs?
- Would you like a surprise?

Not particularly.

Well, you're going to get one,
wether you like it or not.

Thank you.

My dance, I believe?

That's my girl!

Ladies and gentlemen,

may I have your attention, please?

As you know, the gentleman in the middle
of the floor is Houdini, the great magician.

Maybe if we try hard enough we can get him
to do one of his famous tricks for us.

Shall we try?

Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I hadn't planned a performance tonight,

but maybe I have something that will amuse you.

So, if you get me a couple of brooms,

I'll get my wife and...

we will see what we can do.

Thank you.

And now, if you'd bring the music platform, please?

I'll need the aid of a few gentlemen from the audience.

Would you, sir?

And the young officer.

Would you take this broom and hold it
at the edge of the platform?

Would you do the same thing?

Now hold them both very securely.


- Would you put your arms on the brooms?
- Like this - Yes.

I've to get my cape out of the way.

Make yourself as comfortable as possible.


You look very lovely tonight.

- It's a shame to put you to sleep.
- I don't mind.

- You're ready?
- Yes.

All right. Concentrate on my hand.


You're getting sleepy.

You're getting sleepy.

- Happy Birthday.
- Sleep! Sleep.


You can take that broom away now.

Relax your arm. Relax. Relax.

Rest your head.

Sleep. Sleep.

Now, if you'd help me lift her?

Up. Up, up, up!


You can let go now.

And I let go.

And would you let go?

Would you pass that broom underneath, please?

And over.

I don't recommend this as an after-dinner-trick.

- Are you Herr Houdini?
- Yes.

You will appear before the tribunal
tomorrow at 10 to answer these charges.

What charges?

It seems I've been labeled a fraud by the Kaiser's court.

I might have to go to jail.

You'll get me down before you go, will you?

Go back to sleep.

Oh, would you help me to lower her, please?



That's it.


When I snap my fingers you will awaken.

When any magician

transgresses the bounds of reason

and humbugs the people

into not only thinking but believing
that he is supernatural,

then this man becomes a menace to society.

and must be restrained from further practice
of such deception.

Will the defendant rise?

How do you answer these charges?

I have never claimed to be supernatural.

All my escapes have been effected
by purely physical means.

I see only one way to resolve this point.

If both parties will agree

we will put it to a test right in this court.

I will submit to any test Your Honor chooses.

The prosecution agrees to a test.

Very well.

The courtroom will recess for 30 minutes.

The combination of this safe is known only to myself

and my bailiff.

Now, if Mr. Houdini can open the safe

right in this courtroom,

I will dismiss the charges against him.

Uh, just a moment.

Your Honor, I will do better than that.

You can lock me inside the safe, and I'll get out.

Mr. Houdini, I only ask you to open it.

I'll get out.

- Remember the last safe you got into.
- I knew you'd think of that.

Lock it up!

Come on, lock it up. What are you waiting for?

Aren't you worried?

It's pretty hot in there.

Wonderful! Wonderful, Mr. Houdini! Marvelous!

Yes, very good.

Mr. Houdini, congratulations.

But Harry never saw that safe before.
How did he ever do it? What is the trick?

The trick, Mama, was to get the judge
to lock him in the safe.

Safes were built to keep people from breaking in,
not out.


Anybody here?


Is anyone here?



You are too late.

Herr Von Schweger died two days ago.

I'm sorry to hear that.

I was in Switzerland when I got his letter.

I came as quickly as I could.

He was very anxious to talk to you.

I've been trying to see him ever since I came to Europe.

I know.

He made me send your letters back.

So many magicians over the years have tried to see him.

You are the first to whom he gave an appointment.

What made him decide to see me?

Herr Von Schweger had no patience with
magicians who could do only tricks.

He made me follow your European tour very closely.

When he was convinced that you are worthy,

he finally agreed that he would talk to you.

Do you know what he wanted to tell me?

He had nothing to tell you.

He wanted to ask you if you knew
the secret of how to dematerialize.


But I heard that he had already done it.

It happened before I became his assistant.

I asked him,

but he would neither admit it nor deny it.

At one thing I'm sure of:

He was never able to repeat it.

I know

because I helped him spend the rest of his life trying.

He intended to give you this.


Shall we go?


Go where?

Otto is my name.

Now I am working for you.

- But I'll be leaving for America before long.
- So? You will need me.

Looks like Von Schweger left me more
than just a man in a bottle.

Editor of The New York Observer, New York City

Returning from his European Tour,
Houdini requests the pleasure of your company

at his home on Tuesday, September 3rd, at 2 p.m.

I can't understand it.

It's 15:30, and they were invited for 14:00.

Are you sure you send out the invitations, Bess?

I delivered the invitations myself
to every newspaper in town.

Then why haven't a reporter showen up?

Maybe they do not know who you are, Harry.

Everybody knows who I am, Mama.

Look at those.

But that was in Europe, Harry. Americans
are different. You have to show them.

Mama is right.

No one met us on the boat.


if the press won't come to me, I shall go to the press.

Get my straitjacket.

Go away!

Remarkable fellow.

I'm going to interview him today.

Do you remember when he worked for us?

You fired him!

- I fired him?
- Shut up!

I know it's not of my business,
but does he really like this sort of thing?

Certainly. That's why he's going to jump
into the Detroit River tomorrow.

- Do you think you'll need any more, sir?
- No, thank you, that will be enough.

Thank you, sir.

Oh! Get out of that tub!

I've got to get used to it.

Otto, get him out of there!

What are you trying to do?
Do you wanna catch pneumonia?

Here, let me get that wet swimsuit you wear.

I've gotta... I've gotta practice.

You're practicing for nothing.

The Detroit River is completely frozen.

No one will expect you to jump.

But the theater is advertising it for weeks.
I can't back out now!

You have to call it off!

It's below zero outside.

That ice will be a foot thick.

They'll cut a hole in the ice.

Oh! Well, that's crazy.

If you jump, I'm jumping with you!

If I had you with me under that ice,
I bet we could set a new record.

- Do you know what day it is tomorrow?
- Yes, Thursday.

It's Halloween. That's not your day.

To me it's just another Thursday.

The chain broke.

Stand back!

- His wife's coming through, please.
- Excuse me.

Otto, I know he's in trouble.

He should be out by now!

He's never been under that long before!

Grab the hooks.

Let the rope down.


Drob those hooks in.

It's empty! He's not in there!

Take her to the hotel.

Drob those hooks in!

He may be able to see them.

Lower! Lower!

Lower! Lower!

- Nobody could come out of there alive.
- I guess we got a headline. - Yeah.

Get your late Extra!

Extra paper!

Extra! Extra!

Houdini lost in Detroit River!

Extra paper! Get your late Extra!

Houdini disapperaed in Detroit River!

Extra paper!




Oh, Harry!

Darling, you are alive!

Yes, Bess.

I'm all right, Bess.

Don't cry. No. I'm all right.

I didn't think about the river's current.

It carried me downstream.

I thought I'd never find the opening.

Then I heard my mother's voice calling.

I swam towards it's sound and...

found the opening in the ice.

Oh, you're safe. Thank god, you're safe.

Do not cry, Bess. I'll never leave you.

I'll never leave you.


Yes, he is. Long distant. Just a moment.


Yes, this is Harry Houdini.

What time did she die?

Yes, we'll take the first train home.

Mother died the time I heard her calling.

Oh, my darling. My poor, poor darling.

Just a minute, please.

Pardon me.

Hmm. Good subject.

You know, Houdini, don't you, Simms?

I've interviewed him.

Then what's happened to him?

Why should a man at the height of his career
go off the site for 2 whole years?

Well, when his mother died,
he canceled his tour and went into seclusion.

He didn't see anybody, not even me.

A man like that just couldn't be idle.
He must be up to something.

Find out what it is.

Mr. Houdini.

- Why, it's Mr. Simms from the Observer.
- That's right.

- I wanna speak to you for a moment.
- I'm sorry, but we're just leaving for an appointment.

- If you could just answer a few questions?
- Some other time, we're late.

Look, after all you owe me something.

I was the only reporter who covered
your straitjacket escape. Remember?

- Get in.
- Thank you.

I'm doing a feature story on you in our sunday supplement.

I wanna bring the article up to date.

The past two years are blank.

They've been a blank to me, too, Mr. Simms.

How do you mean that?

Do you believe in the hereafter?

I guess so.

Almost everyone believe there's
something beyond this life.

I've been trying to make contact.

You mean to try to communicate with someone who's dead?

Exactly that.

With my mother.

That's impossible.


Because it's never been done?

You just said you believe in something beyond this life.

If there is, there must be some way to reach it.

There is, by dying.

That closes the door.

I wanna open it.

Is that what you've been doing for 2 years?

Yes, with no success.

Tonight we're going to try again.

Would you like to come along?


- Well, uh, my editor...
- You're not afraid, Mr. Simms?

Certainly not. I...

Come in, spirits.

Come in, spirits.

Yes, spirit?

Hey. Calm down.

Was there a materialization?

It sure was something.

You didn't see it?

When I go into a trance I see or hear nothing.

I must rely on those present
if the séance was a success or not.

Well, I heard music.

Sounded like a...

Hungarian waltz.

And there was a woman's image in the garden.

Do these things have any significance?

That waltz was my mother's favorite song.

The image in the garden did have a resemblance to mother.

Then we're indeed fortunate, Mr. Houdini.

Most first séances produce nothing.

It usually takes several

before the recepted vibration

is established to contact the other side.

As a newspaper reporter, Mr. Simms,

I'd be pleased to know your impression.

Well, in my drinking days I could explain it.

You saw what the others saw.

Yeah, but it had no significance for me.

It wasn't meant to.

But it did mean something to the Houdinis.

I'm quite exhausted.

If you will excuse me.

Don't go yet.

The spell is broken.

We can do no more this evening.

Alright, Otto, you can let him go.

Well, what do you know.

There should be a microphone up...

Now, where is the music?

Well, Otto, it looks like we've drawn another blank.

You mean all mediums are fakes?

No, I'm sure there are those that are sincere
and believe in what they are doing.

I just haven't found them.

Shall we go, dear?

Take that thing off!




Oh, Mrs. Houdini!

- Yes?
- Mr. Houdini is not in the theater.

Well, where is he?

You'll find him over at
Sherman's Ironwoods on 14th Street.

Oh, thank you.

Is this why you kept me in the country all week, huh?

So you and Otto could get this, uh, thing wigged.

You don't have to get so upset.
We just wanted to see if it were workable.

Don't lie to me, Harry.

I've been to the theater.
It's postered all over the front.

I've done water escapes before.
This is nothing different.

Nothing different?

It's an exact copy of Von Schweger's man in the bottle.

It's what killed him. Don't you understand, Harry?
It's what killed him.

I haven't played to an audience in 2 years.

I've got to give them something new!

But why it will have to be this?

It'll be the most spectacular thing I've ever done.

And the most dangerous.

Bess, people aren't gonna stand in line
and watch me pull rabbits out of a hat.


Why must every act you do be flirting with death?

Because it's the only act
that'll hold an audience spellbound.

People fall asleep at the opera,

but they stay wide awake at the bullfights

because there's one man defying death down in that arena.

You take this out of my act and I'm nothing!

You keep it in and we're both nothing!

Otto, have this send down to the theater.
We'll test it for tomorrow's performance.

What are you standing there for?

What are you doing here?

I didn't want you to be without an audience.

- Cut it out!
- Why?

It's what you lived for, isn't it?

What do you want me to do?

The house is sold out for tomorrow night.

Wherever you go the house will be sold out.

You make it sound like something terrible.

It is.

People paying a dollar to see a man in love with death.

That's crazy talk!

I wish it was another woman that took
you from me, Harry! That I could fight!

This I can't.

Bess, wait!

- Bess, you've got to listen to me!
- If I listen, I'll get angry.

- What are you trying to do to me?
- I'm trying not to lose you.

- How? By walking out on me?
- Yes! Maybe without me you won't go on.

Without you I wouldn't wanna go on.

- Alright, Bess, I won't do it.
- Oh, Harry.

- I'll cut it out of the act.
- Okay.

- It still hurts you there, doesn't it?
- It's alright.

You should've taken care of that a long time ago.

It's nothing. It comes and goes.

I think it's your appendix.

Since when have you been practicing medicine, Otto?

Ah, you don't have to be a doctor
to know that something's wrong.

- All right.
- I'll have it looked as soon as we finish the tour.

20, 21, 22.

And now, ladies and gentlemen,

as you read in the newspapers this morning

Houdini has been challenged

to liberate himself from a sealed straightjacket.

That's it.

Will the gentleman who has the straightjacket
please walk up on the stage?

Thank you.

Come forward, gentlemen.


have you ever met Houdini or myself before?

No, never.

I understand that you made this conception yourself.

- Yes, in our shop. We have every confidence in it.
- And we don't think he can get out of it.


So, if you do not think he can get out of it,
and you made it yourself,

perhaps you'd better put him into it.

Well, here goes the coat again.

Put your arms in here.

Thank you.

Now, if you'd turn around, please.

Turn around again.

Now you put your wrists right in... like that.
That's right.

Looks as if you got me pretty well locked up.

- It'll hold you all right.
- My Cape, please!

- Would you hold this in front of me?
- Oh, yes, surely.


- it's a little too high.
- Oh, sorry. - Thank you.

- How long did it take you to make this?
- Uh, about a month. - Uh-huh.

- Did you use good steel?
- Oh, yes, the very best.

- Well, some steels are better than others, you know.
- Oh, yes, that's true. - Excuse me.

I think you got a bad piece, but better luck next time.

You're really a wonderful audience.

And I do wanna thank you for this
heart warming welcome you've given me

on my return to the stage.

I do hope I pleased you

and that you'll be coming back

to see me again and again.

And each time you do come back

I promise you bigger and better thrills.

Good night and thank you very much.

What about the Torture Cell?

Why don't you do what you promised?

Why don't you do that trick you promised us?

The Torture Cell!

You are exhausted. Come.

We want to see the Torture Cell!

They are never satisfied. Ignore them.

- I can't.
- Ha! Close your ears.

You have given them enough.

What about the Torture Cell?

Houdini, what are you going to do?
It's like a madhouse out there.

They demand another trick.

- Tell them Houdini is sick. Come on.
- Get the Torture Cell ready.

Harry, you can't! Remember your promise!

More! More! More!

More! More!

The Torture Cell!


Now, will the two gentlemen who helped us before
care to assist us again?

Come up on the stage.

Gentlemen, I have one lock for you, and one for you.

You come over to this side, sir.

You there.

Lock him up securely.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Houdini is now prepared
to enter the Pagoda Torture Cell.

This particular form of escape

has never been attempted by anyone, anywhere!

For your information,

this cell contains 2 tons of water.

Come up, gentlemen, and get ready to close the locks.

Fix the locks as soon as Houdini
has been brought into the water.

Are you ready, Houdini?


First the lid.

5 seconds!

10 seconds!

15 seconds!

20 seconds!

25 seconds!

Half a minute!

Out of the way!

It's a desaster!



- Harry, it's Bess.
- Bess? - Yes.

I'll come back, Bess.

If there's any way,

I'll come back.

I'll come back.