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Houdini: The Movie Star (Three-Disc Collection)


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Editorial Reviews

By the year 1919, Harry Houdini was known throughout the world as a master magician and escape artist. Having conquered the stage, he set out to rule the screen, appearing in a series of thrillers built upon his almost supernatural powers. Culled from film archives and private collections, this Kino DVD set includes all of Houdini s suriving films as an actor, rare footage of actual handcuff and straitjacket escapes, and a wealth of historical information. Includes: THE MASTER MYSTERY (1919, 238m, Color Tinted) TERROR ISLAND (1920, 55m, B&W) THE MAN FROM BEYOND (1922, 68m, Color Tinted) HALDANE OF THE SECRET SERVICE (1923, 84m, Color Tinted) THE GRIM GAME (Fragment, 1919, 5m, Color Tinted) - SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE: Filmed records of Houdini escapes (ca. 1907-23) - Audio recording of Houdini speaking (1914) - Excerpts from the NY Censor Board files - Slippery Jim, a 1910 Houdini-inspired comedy - The illusion Metamorphosis performed by Houdini s brother Hardeen and others.

Special Features

  • Filmed records of Houdini escapes
  • Audio recording of Houdini speaking
  • Excerpts from the NY Censor Board files
  • The illusion "Metamorphosis" performed by Houdini's brother Hardeen
  • Multiple Image Galleries
  • New film notes

Product Details

  • Actors: Harry Houdini
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: April 8, 2008
  • Run Time: 450 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0012OSGJK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,417 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Houdini: The Movie Star (Three-Disc Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Culliton on September 22, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Everyone who is interested in Houdini, even casually, should buy this three DVD set of extremely rare footage of the great star. It is a wonderful set. To those interested in early cinema, the silent screen, vaudeville, sci-fi/fantasy, and superheroes this set is invaluable. Now, I want to talk about something which is very important to me. There has never been a collection of Houdini film footage before. KINO has created a beautiful product in "Houdini, the Movie Star." In doing so, they call our attention to footage that is missing. That is what I want to discuss.
In the KINO set, there is a great deal of footage I've never seen before, and this is Houdini's Ghost speaking. One bit of film shows Houdini running through a park in Paris. Two pairs of handcuffs are locked on his wrists. He stops at the wall outside the Paris morgue, strips off his clothes to his boxer trunks, then climbs a gate and stands atop of the wall of the morgue. Then he jumps into the river Seine.
He surfaces a couple of times before he frees himself from the cuffs, then, he swims to the opposite shore where men are waiting for him. They throw a coat over his shoulders and hustle him into a car which drives away, pursued by four French policemen who look very much like Keystone cops.
Here's the point: in 1909, Houdini starred in a 10 minute Pathe short. I have never seen the opening sequence, but some private collectors do have it and I have been told that Houdini is seen on a street in Paris. He observes a Parisian policeman arresting a drunk. Houdini protests the treatment of the drunk and is arrested himself. The next segment I have seen. Houdini is taken inside the police station and tied to a chair.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By E. Hornaday on January 21, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
When I was a kid in the late 50s, Houdini was still THE man. Escape artist, illusionist and master magician, Harry Houdini fired our youthful imaginations almost as no other - even though we had almost never seen him except in faded stills or old newsreels. We certainly never heard him speak, but had only read avidly about his past exploits.

Now, Kino International is giving Houdini back to his legions of devoted fans by releasing a three-DVD set that includes ALL of the surviving silent movie films of "Houdini - the actor," as well as footage of escapes and an audio clip of the master's voice!

More than mere entertainment, this wonderful collection is truly an historical presentation of Houdini's film career.

By 1919, Houdini was known internationally as an unparalleled master magician. Having conquered the stage, he set out to do the same thing to the "new" medium of the day - the movie. Houdini appeared in a series of thrillers built upon his almost supernatural powers, which he performed the majority of the stunts himself in all of his films.

This incredible boxed set represents the first time that these images (except for "The Man from Beyond") have ever been released on DVD, and may very well be the first time a lot of fans have seen these wonderful productions in more than 75 years!!

Kino International culled everything it could find from film archives and private collections to gather and remaster this amazing material. It includes all of Houdini's surviving silent films as an actor, rare footage of actual handcuff and straitjacket escapes, as well as a wealth of historical information. It also includes a serial in which may have been the first-ever robot on screen to be a threat.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Chip Kaufmann on April 9, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Kino's new set HOUDINI: THE MOVIE STAR is a three disc collection of just about everything that Houdini did which still survives. HH made 5 films over a 5 year period (1919-1923). His first effort THE MASTER MYSTERY is a serial which survives mostly intact. It's also a rare opportunity to see Mae Marsh's older sister Marguerite in action and she's pretty good given the material.

Of the other four only his last effort HALDANE OF THE SECRET SERVICE is fully complete. 1919's THE GRIM GAME has only about 5 minutes but it contains an actual midair collision which was left in the film. THE MAN FROM BEYOND is Houdini's best known film and the 16mm copy here is much better than any of the previous video incarnations. The story of a man revived after being frozen for 100 years has been reworked many times and is never less than fascinating. The highlight of the collection is TERROR ISLAND. Although missing reels 3 and 4 it has the advantage of high production values (it was made at Paramount), a quality director in James Cruze (THE COVERED WAGON), and a cast of strong supporting players led by Eugene Pallette (he was Friar Tuck in Errol Flynn's ROBIN HOOD) whose career stretched into the 1940s.

The set comes with lots of extras including actual clips of Houdini performing and an audio recording of him advertising his act from 1914. As a performer Houdini was charismatic but his films suffer from the same plots and stunts used over and over again. If you've seen one, you've seen em' all. Nevertheless this is a valuable piece of celluloid history and is certainly worth having for the discriminating collector or silent film lover. Just don't expect something "magical".
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