‘Houdini’ Straitjacket

14 January 2022

This is the straitjacket used by actor Tony Curtis (1925 – 2010) in the 1953 biopic of Houdini, with the U.S. movie star performing an escape act first performed by Houdini in 1896. Magicians still ‘escape’ from straitjackets despite the fact that these days they are rarely seen outside an escapologist’s performance.

Magic and the movies have been inextricably linked since moving pictures were first shown within magic shows. The ‘Father of Film Fantasy’ is considered to be George Méliès,  a Parisian magician turned movie pioneer who obtained his equipment via our first President, David Devant, one of the first to shown film to the public in the UK.

There have been mad magicians, bad magicians and great magicians in the movies. Notable recent films include The Illusionist from 2010, and The Prestige from 2006, and of course (although based in wizardry rather than sleight of hand) the Harry Potter franchise which has arguably introduced new generations to the art.

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