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HOUDINI ($15) is a typical fifties era Hollywood biography, one which is very short on truth, but long on entertainment. Tony Curtis stars as legendary magician Harry Houdini, while Janet Leigh portrays the magicianís wife Bess. The film opens with their introduction- he is portraying a "wild man" in a sideshow to further his magicianís career, while she is the schoolgirl who takes pity on the poor pathetic creature. After a quick marriage, the Houdinis head to Europe in search of the success that has eluded them in America. Houdini does find his long sought success with European audiences, but still has to prove himself to Americans, when he returns stateside. Towards the end of his career, Houdini sets out to expose fraudulent mediums in hopes of finding someone that can assist him in communicating with the afterlife. The cast of HOUDINI also features Torin Thatcher, Angela Clarke, Stefan Schnabel, Ian Wolfe, Sig Ruman and Douglas Spencer.

Legend Films through its association with Paramount Pictures has made HOUDINI available on DVD in a transfer that frames the film in its proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio. The transfer is reasonably good, offering respectable sharpness and image detail. There are registration errors during the course of the film, which cause the reds to fringe out and they can be mildly bothersome. The Technicolor hues are sometimes quite nice, other times a little faded. Black, whites and contrast are in keeping with a Technicolor film from the 1950s. Film grain is somewhat noticeable. There are blemishes, but they are not excessive. Digital compression artifacts are adequately contained.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is pretty good. Most of the age related background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process, leaving the track with a very respectable sonic quality. Dialogue is cleanly rendered and easy to understand. Fidelity is decidedly limited, but it the material doesnít require more. No other language tracks or subtitles have been included on the DVD.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer.

HOUDINI is an enjoyable Hollywood biography starring the then married Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. The DVD isnít perfect, but fans of the movie should be reasonably satisfied with the presentation.



Houdini (1953)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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