Long before glorified street performers David Blaine played with electricity or Criss Angel freaked your mind, there was the one and only Harry Houdini. For a life (and death) as theatrical and dramatic as Houdini’s was, with a career that’s a good old-fashioned, American success story, it’s surprising that there aren’t more biopics about the escape artist. Director Joe Wright (Anna Karenina) may remedy that. Wright is reportedly in talks with Lionsgate about helming Houdini, a picture based on the biography, The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero by William Kalush and Larry Sloman. Hit the jump for more.
The LA Times reports that Wright may attempt his first direct biographical adaptation in Lionsgate’s Houdini. The picture has been bounced around a bit, but does have an early draft of a screenplay turned in by Noah Oppenheim (The Maze Runner). It would be interesting to see which direction Wright chooses to go, as Houdini’s history is now remembered as bigger-than-life events, such as the supposed punch to the stomach that killed him and the supposition that he was acting as a British spy, among others.
Here’s a look at the synopsis from The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero by William Kalush and Larry Sloman (via Amazon):
Handcuff King. Escape Artist. International Superstar. Since his death eighty years ago, Harry Houdini’s life has been chronicled in books, in film, and on television. Now, in this groundbreaking biography, renowned magic expert William Kalush and bestselling writer Larry Sloman team up to find the man behind the myth. Drawing from millions of pages of research, they describe in vivid detail the passions that drove Houdini to perform ever-more-dangerous feats, his secret life as a spy, and a pernicious plot to subvert his legacy.
The Secret Life of Houdini traces the arc of the master magician’s life from desperate poverty to worldwide fame — his legacy later threatened by a group of fanatical Spiritualists led by esteemed British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Initiating the reader along the way into the arcane world of professional magic, Kalush and Sloman decode a life based on deception, providing an intimate and riveting portrayal of Houdini, the man and the legend.