The Man from Beyond (1922)
Director: Burton L. King
Cast: Harry Houdini, Arthur Maude, Albert Tavernier
Synopsis: A man who has been frozen in the Arctic ice for 100 years returns to civilization to find his lost love.
Famed escapologist Harry Houdini plays Howard Hillary, a man who has been entombed in a block of ice in the Arctic for one hundred years in The Man from Beyond. He’s discovered by Dr Gregory Sinclair (Erwin Connolly – Sherlock Jr., The Son of the Sheik), one of only two survivors of an ill-fated expedition who waste no time defrosting their discovery before taking him back to 20th Century civilisation. Interestingly, Hillary doesn’t actually realise it’s now 1922 – and not 1820 – until he’s at the wedding of Felice Norcross (Jane Connelly – Sherlock Jr) to a Dr Trent (Arthur Maude). You’d think that automobiles, telephones and electric lights might have caught his attention, but no, it’s only when he’s shown the date on a newspaper after insisting that Felice is his betrothed that the penny drops. Trent has him committed to an insane asylum in a straitjacket, but that proves no obstruction to Hillary’s determination to reclaim the love of his current life (and her previous one).
You’d think a movie starring a man whose popularity was built upon his ability to escape from virtually anything would feature a lot of scenes of said man escaping from virtually anything, but The Man from Beyond has only one scene of Houdini shedding his straitjacket in double quick time. To be honest, the escape is shot from a distance so that all we see is him wriggling around on the floor for a while, so perhaps it’s not such a bad thing. There’s also a rousing finale in which Hillary and Felice find themselves adrift in a river that’s surging towards a waterfall, but everything that takes place before is rather ordinary. This dullness of the storyline is compounded by the fact that Houdini just wasn’t leading man material and gives a rather lifeless performance.
(Reviewed 25th October 2014)