(1953)3Craig ButlerAnyone looking for a credible biography of the great escape artist known as Houdini is well advised to look elsewhere. But those looking for an engaging, if highly fanciful, little bit of Hollywood escapism have come to the right place. Certainly, Houdini gets some of the facts straight -- but it gets at least as many wrong (including the manner in which the man died). In other words, this is another typical Hollywood biopic -- but it's well cast and well executed. Perhaps most importantly, the tricks are presented in a manner that inspires suspense and tension. And the love story, while very much in a typical Hollywood mold, actually holds the viewer's attention. Credit Philip Yordan's screenplay, which while hardly a masterpiece is better than average; credit too George Marshall's astute and careful direction. But most of all credit Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, who at the time were husband and wife, for the charisma and chemistry they bring to their roles. Curtis is a delight, and totally believable as a magician. It's one of his smoothest performances. Leigh is lovely throughout, making a big impression with what is actually a subsidiary role. Neither star is indulging in what one would call great acting -- but they're being exceptionally good at screen performing, and in this kind of film, that makes all the difference.