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Haldane of the Secret Service

Tom's Recommended Film of the Week


Haldane of the Secret Service

This week I am recommending a film with some trepidation. Haldane of the Secret Service has several marks against it, as well a number of interesting curiosities. First and foremost, it is one a a handful of filmsstarring magician, psychic skepticand world famous escape artistHarry Houdini. That's what drew me towards this film and it may be what you would come looking for also.

Now here's some of the drawbacks. Haldane of the Secret Serviceis a silent filmand is relatively difficult to locate. The best and maybe only available copy is on a complete set of Houdini filmspackaged from Kino. They're on DVD and you may be able to find them to rent in your library system, as I did.

Another drawback; this film is extra melodramatic, as are many silent films. Lot's of dialogue, a bit of action, moves a bit slowly. Also, being filmed in 1923, with much of the plot taking place in the Far East, you will note some bad news stereotyping of the oriental characters.

Now here are some of the bright spots, which have me recommending this odd duck. Hey, it's Harry Houdini, live! Houdini does an interesting escape scene! There is a reasonably good mystery, with a few twists and a neat ending. Plus, for my numismatic readers, the plot revolves around a banknotecounterfeiting ring, with scenes about clandestine distribution and such. Haldane himself must follow this trail of counterfiet notes back to their source, while rescuing the heroine from her own naivete. What more could you ask for?