Saturday, June 21, 2008

DVD: Houdini the Movie Star #2 -- June 21, 2008

I had the opportunity to watch another movie on Kino's set Houdini the Movie Star. The Man From Beyond was another title that I have always admired. The plot is less admirable. The movie starts with a brief, confusing statement about reincarnation. Then it shows two survivors of an Artic expedition trying to reach civilization. François Duval, "a half breed", is about to abandon Doctor Gilbert Trent when he spots a sailing ship trapped in the ice.

The scenes where they explore the long-trapped ship has a good spooky atmosphere. Duval discovers a man frozen in ice and starts to chip away. I was afraid Duval was looking for food.

The movie uses a fairly complex set of flashbacks, switching between the Artic and civilization or upstate New York. The ice man, Houdini, is shown from about the shoulders up. The doctor tells Duval "Get those wet things off his legs." He hands Duval a scarf and says "Wrap this around him." Duval bends down for a moment and drops a pile of wet clothes. At that moment, the ice man, Houdini, awakens and runs up on deck. He is wearing a bulky breechclout.

The doctor, for some reason, decides not to tell Houdini that he has been frozen for 100 years and brings him back to civilization or upstate New York. A subtitle seems to suggest that he has amnesia. He doesn't seem to be confused about riding in an automobile. He does remember the leading lady, who seems to be the reincarnation of his 1820 love. I feel ungentlemanly to mention it, but the leading lady is not attractive.

There is only one escape. Houdini is thrown into an insane asylum. The keepers wrap him in sheets and put him under a cold shower. One keeper remarks that this was a dark ages trick that the authorities would not allow any more. I wonder what group insisted on that. They make a good use of a flashback: the keepers look in the room and Houdini is gone. He later explains to the leading lady how he escaped from the sheets, used them to climb the wall and kick out the window, then let himself down the outside wall.

Bits of the movie are obviously missing. Nita Naldi hardly has anything to do. There are some shots that appear to be out of place. I enjoyed the piano score by Jon Mirsalis.

The remote for the dvd player needs new batteries, so I couldn't watch any of the extras.

It has been very hot.

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