Ken Trombly recommends this video of Orson Welles discussing Houdini. Excellent, although I'm not sure I agree with his gendered theory of magic. "Magic is not for the ladies. They don't like to be fooled." Most women don't like to be fooled by men. A lot of them like magicians just fine.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller ("21 Jump Street") are trying to bring "Carter Beats the Devil" to the big screen. Tom Cruise was interested in this project some time ago, but his option apparently lapsed and so did the film. Now, still snoozing at Warner Brothers, the movie project has caught the attention of Mr. Lord and Mr. Miller, whose film "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" was a huge success in 2009. More here from the Hollywood Reporter.
Gary Ross ("The Hunger Games") may direct an adaptation of William Kalush and Larry Sloman's The Secret Life of Houdini for Summit. Meanwhile, it seems that Columbia Pictures might be planning its own Houdini flick, to be directed by Francis Lawrence, who will also direct "Catching Fire," the sequel to Mr. Ross's successful "Hunger Games." Watch closely: how many Houdinis do you see?
Loyal Dorothy (Lena) Young, the last surviving of Houdini's assistants, died March 20. She was 103. Through the years, Ms. Young never told the secrets of Houdini's amazing deceptions, although she did occasionally describe some bits of stage business that pleased audiences. After performing for a year with Houdini and his wife Bess, Ms. Young went on to a short career in films (Flying Down To Rio) and toured the country in a dance act with her second husband. Ms. Young appears in the documentary Houdini: Unlocking the Mystery (2005) as herself. Veras Films made a documentary about Dorothy Young a few years ago. More here about Houdini, his assistants, and his mission to uncover spiritualists and fraud here.
October 31st isn't just Hallowe'en. It's the anniversary of Harry Houdini's death in 1926. He died in Detroit (I know--not a very Hallowe'eny place). His insurance policy paid "double indemnity" because his death was the result of an accident. More on Houdini's will and estate here.
Want to attend a seance to see if Houdini returns? Try The Harry Houdini Museum which hosts such an event each year. Harry has been a no-show so far, however, just as he was for his wife Bess through 1936. She gave up that year and revealed the secret word he had told her he would send her if there was an afterlife: "Believe." A link to the final seance is here. Some of Houdini's colleagues keep trying, however. Here's a link to a seance from last year, hosted by the inimitable James Randi.
Maybe, like Greta Garbo, Mr. Houdini just "vants to be alone." After all, there is such a thing as the right to privacy. And even if it doesn't survive death, a famous dead magician might just want the neighbors, the family, and colleagues to stop dropping by, especially on a busy day, like Hallowe'en.
For those of you wondering just what one can give a favorite magician this year for the non-denominational gift giving holidays, check out the Unemployed Philosopher's Guild website, where I spotted a great Houdini mug. I'm ordering one for my favorite magician.
Another good place to scour for gifts: The For Counsel catalog and website. I've given the Attorney Work Product romper to a young person (actually to the parents, but the kid had to wear it--no IIED claims allowed), and I have the Christmas tree (in our abode renamed the non-denominational gift giving holiday shrub). I covet the beer stein. I don't like beer particularly. I just like the stein. The website also has gavels, bookends with justicial emblems and lots of Lady Justice figures, just so you know in case you are trolling for such.