This brief post struck my interest from ComingSoon.net. DreamWorks has bought a script called Voices From the Dead, a buddy film about Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle investigating a murder…only with the help of a psychic. The writer is Michael Straczynski, also known for his work in writing scripts for comic books.
I certainly like the pairing up of Houdini and Doyle but when you throw in “help of a psychic” I’m wondering if the premise is ruined. Houdini exposed psychics at the end of his career, but I suppose Doyle was susceptible to such beliefs after being fooled by the Cottingley fairy hoax which is one of his greatest embarrassments. The fairies were simply faked photos, painfully obvious. Something I would guess Houdini could have spotted as his career depended on trickery.
And sadly, Houdini and Doyle we’re friends in real life until Houdini went on his debunking exercises of psychics and eventually alienated Doyle, which I’m sure was very painful. As a Sherlock Holmes fan growing up, I never could understand why Doyle was so damned gullible. The character of Sherlock Holmes was scientific and thorough and could have taught his author how to be skeptical. Even worse, Doyle thought Houdini was at fault and not the fake psychics. Per Wiki: “Conan Doyle came to believe that Houdini was a powerful spiritualist medium, had performed many of his stunts by means of paranormal abilities and was using these abilities to block those of other mediums that he was ‘debunking.'”
It was not that Houdini necessarily wanted to expose psychics, he was forced to in good conscience because he could spot all their tricks. You could read about his adventures in debunking in his book, penned by Houdini himself in A Magician Among Spirits.
So you might see, with all this history, why I would find this premise offensive concerning “psychic help.” However, to be fair, I do not have access to the script and therefore the psychic could be a fake or the murderer, etc. It’s doubtful. I’m guessing Straczynski will take the easy way out and go in a supernatural direction. Hollywood almost always demands it.
What a wonderful movie it would be to explore Houdini and Doyle’s relationship and their eventual departure as friends over this issue of psychics being exposed.