Houdini

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Houdini
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IMDb: 7.3
The movie opens up with the greatest escape  artist of all time, Harry Houdini, standing   on the edge of a bridge, all tied with metal  chains and ready to jump off. In the background,   Houdini mentions that while other people  want to escape from their hectic life,   he is always trying to escape death, performing  risky acts. He then jumps off the bridge,   right into the frozen lake, while a huge  crowd of people watches on with amazement. The movie then cuts back to 17 years, where  Houdini arrives at a brothel-like place with   his wife, Bess Houdini, to perform and  entertain the audience there. However,   seeing the dilapidated and vile state of the  place, Houdini changes his mind and decides   to walk out. But Bess asserts that they have  no choice, as money is running out for them.   She then announces to the people there that  Houdini is going to perform an act in which he   will escape from a closed trunk, while still being  handcuffed. While most of the people are amused,   one of them scoffs that anyone can do it as the  handcuffs they brought are fake. But Houdini, who   always has a backup plan, tells the audience that  he will wear any handcuff that is given to him. Surprisingly, the man who labeled their  performance as fake turns out to be a   cop himself and he throws a real handcuff  in front of them. At first, Houdini gets   nervous because of the intense pressure, but  when the cop puts the cuffs on his hands,   he gets riled up. He then slowly turns  away and opens it using a pin-like thing,   hidden in his belt. This immediately  impresses the crowd, including the cop,   and all of them applaud for him with respect. From  that day onwards, Houdini became famous throughout   America by the title of the “Best escape artist”.  He started performing several other shows,   escaping from not only handcuffs but also  from metal chains wrapped around his body. One night, Bess mentions that she wants to do  something else other than performing shows,   but Houdini makes it clear that he does not want  to return to a normal life. Instead, he wants to   be the best escape artist in the world. With this,  the scene flashes back to several decades earlier,   when Houdini and his brother Dass are looking  at a travel group performing an illusionary   act. Houdini is so intrigued by the performance  that he instantly started dreaming of becoming a   magician and making a living out of it. And, with  the days passing by, he learns small tricks and   earns some money from it. Houdini brings the  money home to his mother and makes her happy,   but his father isn’t really fond of Houdini  performing in public. Because of this,   he leaves his house with his brother at an early  age and decides to do something on his own. Together, the Houdini brothers start to perform  on the streets and collect money to support their   mother. A few years pass by and one day, while  performing on the streets, Houdini notices his   future partner; Bess, dancing for a performance  group. He secretly watches her perform and quickly   falls for her beauty and elegance. After the  act, he approaches Bess and asks her if she would   like to work with him, to which she accepts. From  that day onwards, the two get along very well and   travel around the world, performing magic tricks  for renowned people. Houdini’s brother; Dass,   who is still in the states, tries to copy his  tricks to stay relevant. However, Houdini doesn’t   like this and decides to perform even riskier  tricks which no one can even dare to replicate. The scene then shifts to 1896 where Houdini and  Bess visit a popular prison and ask the head   Sheriff to lock him up. Expectedly, the sheriff  refuses, mentioning that they can only lock up   criminals, but when Houdini starts making fun of  their prison quality and bets a hundred dollars   for the cause, he gets enraged and agrees to do  it. Here, we get to know that Houdini wants to do   this stunt as it would gain a lot of publicity,  even without paying the newspapers. Meanwhile,   the sheriff locks up Houdini pretty well, and  Bess gives him a kiss before leaving. The Sheriff   suspects that she has transferred something into  his mouth, but when he checks, he finds nothing. After the coast is clear, Houdini pulls out a  metal key opener that he had swallowed after   kissing Bess, and uses it to escape the prison.  As a result, the media goes into a frenzy,   and Houdini becomes famous overnight. The  fans even start recommending him to escape   from bigger and more secure prisons.  Houdini accepts one of these challenges   and arrives in Chicago, Illinois in the  year 1900 to perform a trick. This time,   he is wrapped with metal chains all over his  body and even his mouth is covered with a strap,   suspecting that Bess passed him the key earlier,  while kissing. However, to the prison guards’   dismay, only after 5 minutes of being locked  up, Houdini escapes from the prison without   leaving any trace of himself behind. After  his numerous prison escapes, Houdini becomes   famous all over the globe by the names “The  Handcuff King” and “ The Breaker of the Chains”. One day, Houdini can be seen shopping for  prop items. In a shop, he meets the owner,   w, who seems to know him very well and also  claims to have designed most of the items   in the shop. Houdini is really impressed  by Jim’s work including the one in which   the performer has to escape after hanging  upside down inside a box filled with water. After a few days, Houdini and Bess visit Jim at  his workshop where he has created a model for   the water container act. As soon as he sees  the box, Houdini hops into the container,   with the aid of Jim’s assistants to check  for how long he will be able to stop his   breathing underwater. He impressively stays  still for a few minutes and signals to be   let out. But unfortunately, when Jim  and his crew try to pull Houdini out,   the rectangular box on top of the container gets  stuck, horrifying everyone around. Fortunately,   Jim has an ax lying around, which he uses to  shatter the container and set Houdini free. The scene then fasts forward to the time when  Houdini is performing the water container act   live, in front of a large audience. He also  informs the audience that in case of emergency,   he has the head of the fire department office  holding an ax to break open the container.   Houdini then starts performing the act, with  his legs trapped in the rectangular box. Jim is   hosting the show and he asks the assistants  to cover the container. A few minutes pass   by but Houdini shows no movement, so the  crowd starts getting anxious. As a result,   the head of the Chicago fire department  arrives there to break the container,   and when he turns back, he is revealed to  be none other than Houdini himself. The   crowd roars in astonishment, as they have  never witnessed anything like this before. With Houdini’s popularity  spreading all across the nation,   the director of the US secret service  begins investigating him. They believe   that Houdini is an illegal immigrant who  has been fooling people with useless acts. But fortunately, before any roadblocks appear,  Houdini is approached by v, the head of the   British secret service, MI5. William modifies  Houdini’s place of birth from Hungary to the US,   and in return, asks for secret information  from the enemies of the USA and the UK. Acting on the plan, Houdini heads to Germany  and performs for the great Kaiser family. He   eventually blows their mind after performing  a nearly impossible bullet-catching magic   trick. Following this, Houdini meets  with Riley, one of William’s officers,   and provides him with some secret information that  he overheard while being around the Kaisers. Riley   is really impressed by his work and showers heaps  of praises on him. He then leaves, but not before   giving Houdini a red book containing Russian  grammar, setting him up for the next mission. A few days later, Houdini and his partner; Bess  can be seen performing for a prestigious and   powerful family in Moscow, Russia. To win their  hearts, Houdini cleverly plays a game where he   will fulfill their wishes. He makes them write  down their wishes and lets the daughter of the   family pick one. It reads ‘ring the Kremlin bell’.  Everyone laughs at the wish as the Kremlin has not   been rung since over a hundred years. But Houdini  being Houdini, uses magic to create a small rope,   which he lets the small girl tug. And as soon  as she does so, the Kremlin bell starts ringing,   leaving everyone in utter disbelief. They  even bow their heads to pay their respects. The next day, Houdini meets William in London  and provides him with information about what   the Russians are up to. William praises his  excellent work and also inquiries about how   he was able to ring the Kremlin bell. Houdini  reveals that everything was set up. When the   little girl chose a wish, he secretly switched  it with the one he had already prepared. And   every time the girl tugged on the rope, his  assistant; Jim, who was watching from afar,   shot the Kremlin Bell with his sniper. Before  departing, William tells Houdini that he now   wants him to go visit the German ambassador  and extract some useful information from them. The scene then shifts to Germany, where  Houdini is performing a new trick in front   of the audience and the German ambassador. Jim  mentions that Houdini is locked inside the safe   in which he has only 10 minutes of breathing time.  However, in reality, Houdini is not in the safe,   but inside the ambassador’s office,  trying to find some important papers. Unfortunately, when he is snooping around  the place, the ambassador returns to his   office with a girl, compelling Houdini to hide  inside the safe. And to make matters worse,   the ambassador notices the safe slightly open,  prompting him to lock it properly. Houdini,   despite being an expert in opening locks, starts  feeling the pressure as he has never been inside   a real safe before. But with time running out, he  remembers that he is Harry Houdini, the greatest   showman that the world has ever seen. With this  motivation, he starts counting the number of locks   present in the safe by remembering the clicks  he heard when the ambassador locked it. And   with only a few minutes remaining, he successfully  opens every single lock and gets out of the safe. Back on the stage, when Jim opens the safe, he  finds it filled with several 10-year anniversary   gifts for Bess. Meanwhile, Houdini meets up  with William and hands him the documents before   entering the stage and thanking Bess for being his  partner and tolerating him for the last 10 years.   However, she doesn’t like the fake gesture. She  confronts Houdini after the show and states that   he only cares about entertaining the audience  and nothing else. One thing leads to another   and the two get into an argument, which results in  Houdini spending the night in the bathroom, alone. One day, Houdini and Jim are  watching a video performance   of Charlie Chaplin inside a theatre.  Houdini believes that Charlie is not   doing anything special but Jim tells  him that he is the new competition. Later at night, Houdini returns home  and again argues with Bess. The latter   urges Houdini to quit risking his life but  he mentions that he enjoys putting people   in confusion and emerging out alive. As the  two continue discussing, Houdini notices a   glass filled with ice and decides to use it in  his next trick. He then rushes to the bathroom   and calls Jim to bring buckets full of ice  and pour them into the bathtub. After this,   he lies inside the bathtub filled with  ice, practicing for his next stunt. A few days later, Houdini can be seen standing  on the edge of a bridge with his hands tied by   metal chains, ready to jump inside a pool of  frozen water. The scene is the same one from   the start of the movie. After Houdini jumps,  Bess gets frightened and anxious. But to her   and everyone’s delight, Houdini manages to unlock  his metal chains and handcuffs underwater in only   a matter of minutes. However, just when it seems  that the performance is over, Houdini is swept   away by the water current. He struggles for  a while, trying to find a way out, until he   visions his mother there. And with her help and  guidance, he safely gets out of the frozen water. Seeing her husband risking his life to the  bits every time he performs his stunts, Bess   again argues with him at home. At first, Houdini  gets angry and walks away, but later, he returns   home and apologizes to her for overreacting and  also agrees to do only safe acts from now on. Following this, during the next act, Houdini  does not risk his life and makes an elephant   disappear in thin air, surprising  the audience. After the performance,   he is approached by the British agent  from earlier; Riley, who asks him to   visit Europe and Washington to bring some  secret information for them. Houdini tries   to decline the request but Riley convinces him  by saying that his fans will love a world tour. The scene then shifts to the Empire  Theatre in 1914, where Sir Arthur,   the writer of Sherlock Holmes, is also amongst  the audience. As he watches with eagerness,   Houdini performs an act of walking  past a brick wall, surprising everyone. After the performance, Arthur approaches  Houdini in person and praises him for his   great act. Unfortunately, as soon as Arthur  leaves, Jim meets Houdini and hands him a   telegram letter. Houdini reads the  letter which is from his brother,   informing him about their mother’s death. With  the news, Houdini gets devastated and collapses   on the floor. Bess rushes to him and carries  him on her lap. After Housini calms down a bit,   he requests Bess to stop his brother from burying  his mother until he arrives for the funeral. In the next scene, Houdini can  be seen at his mother’s funeral,   where Jim inquires if he can contact  her using his supernatural power that   he performed in one of his acts before.  However, Houdini clears that the act was   merely a trick to entertain the audience and  that he possesses no supernatural ability. After the tragedy, Houdini’s persona completely   changes. He starts getting more  involved in movies, but everyday,   he imagines contacting his mother using divine  powers. He tries contacting several clairvoyants,   who claim that they can contact the spirits  of dead people. However, all of them turn   out to be phony. Enraged, Houdini exposes them  and even writes a book about them in 1925 A.D. One day, Houdini again meets Sir Arthur and his  wife Lady Doyle, the latter, who claims to be  a clairvoyant. Lady Doyle asserts that she can  make him contact his mother and prepares for a   personal sitting with him. At the same time, a  fortune teller arrives there and when Houdini   asks her to tell his fortune, she reads his  palm and predicts that he will die soon. Afterward, Houdini is with the Doyle  couple, preparing to summon his mother’s   spirit. Lady Doyle picks a pencil and  writes something on a piece of paper,   supposedly under the influence of Houdini’s  mother’s spirit. Following the procedure,   Houdini becomes happy and thanks  Lady Doyle for contacting his mother. Unfortunately, when Houdini examines the texts  written by Lady Doyle, he finds them to be fake.  He finds clear English writing in the text  while his mother couldn’t even speak a word   of the language. He also tells Jim that it was his  birthday that day and that his mother could never   forget it. With these proofs, he declares that  Lady Doyle is fake and exposes her and Sir Arthur   via radio programs and newspaper interviews.  He also declares that he will provide 25000$   to the ones who can make  contact with his dead mother. In 1926, Houdini visits Boston, Massachusetts to  meet a notorious clairvoyant, who calls herself   Margery. He attends one of her table sessions  and exposes her fakeness. Enraged, Margery visits   Houdini in his hotel room and tries to seduce  him, but to no success. Hence, before leaving,   she reminds Houdini that he will die soon,  and after that, they will own his spirit. Houdini’s next show is scheduled in Detroit,  Michigan, where he performs the act of escaping   a rectangular box filled with water. Houdini  has performed the act on several occasions,   but this time, he ends up fracturing  his ankle. After the performance,   a doctor visits him and asks him to  take rest, but Houdini responds that   he cannot miss his show and hence, decides  to continue performing with a broken ankle. Later, while Houdini is with his fans, a  guy approaches him and punches him hard on   the stomach for speaking against Lady Doyle.  Houdini whimpers in pain but he doesn’t talk   about it to Bess or Jim, and simply goes to  perform his next show. Unfortunately, as he is   addressing the audience, he suddenly collapses,  prompting Jim to immediately call an ambulance. At the hospital, the doctors open up Houdini and  discover that he has a ruptured appendix and that   he has very little chance of survival. One of  the doctors approaches Houdini and breaks the   bad news to him. He also talks about how Houdini  is a great performer, who made millions of people   forget their miseries. On the other hand, Bess and  Jim also learn about the news and get devastated. And In no time, the news spreads like wildfire  and Bess receives a number of letters, expressing   concerns about Houdini’s health condition.  The kind gestures move her, and she finally   realizes the happiness her husband brought  to millions of people all around the world. Unfortunately, Houdini dies at the early age  of 52, while visioning his mother in one of the   nurses who looked after him. The whole world  mourns over the death of the great Houdini.   The movie ends with Reverend Arthur Ford, the  first spiritualist in the church of New York,   inviting Mrs. Houdini for one of their sessions  to try and make contact with Harry Houdini.
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