Houdini ★★★½

Harry Houdini (Tony Curtis) works in a side show as a wild man and also has a magic act. A schoolgirl, Bess (Janet Leigh), is so attracted to his act that she marries him. She becomes his assistant in the act, but not liking the circus, she encourages Harry to get a regular job. He takes a job in a lock factory but gets fired when he locks himself in a safe while trying to find a way to break out of it. Harry and Bess go to Europe where he learns more about magic. Harry becomes expert in escaping from chains and locked boxes and other types of constraints. Harry hopes to contact his deceased mother by seance, but he soon determines that the séances are all phony. Before his performance one evening, Harry feels a tenderness in his side due to an appendicitis, but goes on stage anyway. The performance involves an extreme escape and Harry, in pain and weak, is unable to free himself. His assistant breaks him out of the constraints, but his untreated condition has reached a critical stage. As he dies, he promises Bess that he will return if it is possible.

Entertaining and earnest biography of the famed escape artist contains more fiction than fact.