Recently, I watched the 1998 Houdini TV biography; I was interested to see how it stood up to other Houdini biographies I’ve seen, such as 1950’s Houdini biography with Tony Curtis, or the more recent Houdini with Adrien Brody. In my opinion, both were entertaining fiction, but very poor biographies. So how did the 1998 version compare?
First, the good news — the costumes and setting looked very authentic — high marks for reproducing the look and feel of the timeframe. Secondly, the acting was fine, with Johnathon Schaech as Harry Houdini, Stacy Edwards as Bess, and Mark Ruffalo (The Avengers) as Houdini’s brother Theo. Other notables making appearances include Rhea Perlman, Ron Perlman, and George Segal.
The bad news is, the longer the movie went on, the further distanced from reality became — and that’s a crying shame. I truly enjoyed the early part of the film, as Harry and Theo (later known professionally as Hardeen) grow up, train together, etc. But as I say, the further the movie progressed, the more detached from reality it became.