This section is from the book "The Adventurous Life Of A Versatile Artist: Houdini", by Harry Houdini. Also available from Amazon: The Adventurous Life of a Versatile Artist; Houdini.
"What do you consider the greatest stunt you have done for the screen?" I asked, when I had recovered my breath.
"Another incident in the same picture," answered Houdini. "I stood in the archway of a prison, thus-" Here he took up a crouching position in the corner of the room, and enacted the whole thing for my benefit. "A heavily loaded lorry, going at twenty-two or four miles an hour rolled by me. I threw myself on the ground, completely rolling over between the fast revolving fore and hind wheels, over and over, till I caught the transmission bar. and hung there for very doar life! Thus was I carried to the aid of the heroine. Though my words may not convey very much, this was my greatest stunt. It allowed for no rehearsals-I said to the camera-man, "Get this now or never!" And had I made the slightest false move I should have been crippled for life, if no"t killed."
In spite of the risks he has taken before the camera, Houdini has a profound love and admiration for the "movies."
"I think the film profession is the greatest," he told me "and that the moving picture is the most wonderful thing in the world. One reason why I love the screen is because it has use for the derelicts of life, and gives employment to tin old as well as the young. I entered the profession myself because I knew I should eventually be losing my strength, and before that happened I wanted to perpetuate my feats, and by so doing everyone, in all parts of the world, can see them. Pictures have increased my drawing power two-hundredfold.'1
Houdini, as related at the commencement of this chat, had one of his greatest compliments paid him by critics of his film work, but before I left him he confessed that what he considers the very greatest tribute ever made to his unique achievements is recorded in a dictionary! Turn to Funk and Wag-nalPs Standard Dictionary, and there you will find it:
"HOU'DI-NI. I, hn'di-ni;
2, hn'di-ni, HARRY (4-6, 1874). American mystericist, wizard, and expert in extrication and self-release HOU'DI-NIZE vt. To release or extricate oneself from (confinement, bonds, or the like), as by wriggling out." So, taking Houdini all in all, I may consider the fact that this wonder-man, this "expert in extrication," made no effort to escape from at least one thing this interview!
MAY HERSCHEL CLARKE.