Restored Serials // 1922 // 62 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // August 6th, 2007
See Houdini whirled to the brink of Niagara Falls to rescue the girl.
A man encased in a glacier for a hundred years is revived by an Arctic exploration team, and he is searching for lost love. His name is Howard Hillary, and the gentleman on ice is played by the great Harry Houdini. The scientists bring him home to study, since they're interested in a man from 1820 thrust into 1922. Things get strange when they take their recently thawed study subject to a wedding, and the out-of-time gentleman assumes the bride is the reincarnation of his lost love. Howard does everything to thwart the nuptials and, as a result, is thrown in a strait jacket into an insane asylum. But he does what we expect, and escapes.
Of the five movies famous escapologist Harry Houdini made, The Man From Beyond is the best known. It's a film Houdini wrote as well as produced, and it allowed him to pull off one of his most famous stunts on celluloid. Yes, we get to see him avoid death at Niagara Falls and that's the best part. Harry wasn't a great showman; in fact, he was far better known for his daring escapes than his stage magic act. He's not a great thespian, and his screen presence is never as compelling as the feats he pulls. At the core of the film are some interesting meditations on reincarnation and a man lost in time, but little is made of these potentially exciting themes. The Man From Beyond is more melodrama than anything else, and it's most entertaining when we see Harry Houdini doing his escape thing.
This presentation is from Restored Serials Super Restoration Corp. and, surprisingly, it comes on a high-quality DVD-R. The transfer is astoundingly clear for a film from 1922, and the soundtrack is a nice consistent score credited to SonicFire Pro. The claim is this is the most complete version of the film at a running time of 62 minutes. It appears to be completely unedited, and the picture is not as jerky as previous VHS incarnations from British companies. All in all this a solid effort, and speaks well of a company that has its main distribution on Amazon's Marketplace and eBay. Extras include some newsreel footage from when Houdini was in Ohio, and two press books including one for this film and another serial he made.
If you're curious, it is a whole lot of fun to see Harry Houdini in a silent movie. While The Man From Beyond will be remembered for little else than some great escapes, it is a chance to stare at the world-famous magician. The "Super Restoration Series" is a great find, releasing titles with great care taken in making sure they are complete and clear. There's certainly nothing to complain about. The film is almost a hundred years old, and it remains a curiosity simply because of one man's name.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Restored Serials
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English, Music)
Running Time: 62 Minutes
Release Year: 1922
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Newsreel Footage
* DVD ROM Pressbooks