Posted on Monday, October 15th, 2012 by Russ Fischer
I think I like Joe Wright more when he’s working in a tweaked genre mode. Wright’s literary films (such as Atonement and Pride & Prejudice) are great, but it’s Hanna that really stuck with me. And with his version of Anna Karenina finished, he might be edging back towards the unusual with The Secret Life of Houdini, a biopic of the famous escape artist and anti-Spiritualist that tackles some of the more outrageous stories about Houdini’s life. Wright is reportedly in early talks to make the film that once had Gary Ross attached.
William Kalush and Larry Sloman wrote the book The Secret Life of Houdini as an all-in biography that deals not only with Houdini’s most public acts, but also his clash with followers of Spiritualism, and his on and off friendship with Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle, who became a devoted Spiritualist. But there’s other stuff in the book, too, such as allegations that Houdini acted as a British spy, reporting on events from Germany and Russia, and that his death was part of a murderous act. (Noah Oppenheim scripted based on the book.)
The LA Times reports on the early talks, but we don’t know if Wright is really going to commit. but with several other Houdini projects in the works, there’s clearly interest in the man’s life, and the potential it has for the screen. (DreamWorks has a Houdini spec script by J. Michael Straczynski; Sony had Francis Lawrence set for a biopic; and Aaron Sorkin and Hugh Jackman have a stage musical.)
Indeed, Houdini was a fascinating guy, and there’s more room for multiple films about him than there might be for many other figures. If Wright signs for this one, it will probably shoot to the top of the pile as the one with the most potential.