Death Defying Acts

Synopsis: During Harry Houdini's tour of Britain in 1926, the master escapologist enters into a passionate affair with a Scottish psychic. The psychic and her daughter attempt to con Houdini during a highly publicized séance to contact his mother whose death has haunted him for many years. However all does not go to plan...
Director(s): Gillian Armstrong
Production: Genius Productions
  4 wins & 7 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
97 min

When I was very small,

I had a gift.

I saw things

other folk didn't see.

It was like looking into deep water

and seein' things on the other side.

As I grew up,

the gift vanished

just like

my mam said it would.

And I saw the world

as it really was

with all its sweet lies

and trickery.

Then the Great Houdini

came into our lives

and changed everything


C'mon, Harry...

Don't do this to me again!

Up! Up!

Get the bloody thing

up now!

...the Sun,

the Four Winds and the Sea...

...bowed down before

the Great Houdini.

He was a god.

That's what it said

in my comics.

If you were Houdini,

you wouldn't be livin'

in a place with a leakin'roof,

worryin'how to pay

the coal man.

And you wouldn't be sittin'

on a damp step outside the pawnshop

waitin'for your mam to

hawk her weddin'ring...

...yet again.


You'd be inside somewhere

warm and cosy eatin' cake.

Close that!

We've got work to do!

That's the wedding ring,

back in the window then, is it?

Only good use

I ever had for it.

Mary McGarvie.

A dream come true.

Not for you!


Leave ma man alone,

ya Gypsy strumpet!

I wouldn't have your hand-me-downs

if you paid me!

You tarted-up hussy!

You frigid old piss-pants!


Bloody circumcision!


It's in the Bible...

Oh, give me that!

We were a real double act,

my mam and me.

It was just us against

the cruel world

livin'by our wits.

'Scuse me.

'Scuse me, sir.

Woops, sorry!

Over here, Rose!

I told you

to wait on the corner!

- There y'are, sir.

- Thank you.

You'll be after your usual

posy of violets, Mr. Robertson?

'Aye. They were

always her favourites.

Oh! Pockets, eh?

- Thank you, dear.

- Thank you. See you tomorrow.

'To Charles, with never ending

love, Your Violet'.

'You play the game

or you go under.'

That's what mam always said,

And if it wasn't for her,

we would've drowned long ago.


'Violet Robertson

- died of heart-failure.'

You're that unfortunate.

It was your long lost aunt

a week ago, was it not?

My condolences, Mrs. McGarvie...

You're so kind...

You'll be wanting to...

examine the Records, no doubt?

The information you need...

may be on the... tenth shelf...

Or even the eleventh...

It's the details of those dear

departed one later cherishes...

...don't you think?

'Cherishable details,'

Mrs. McGarvie.

How right you are.

Jump! Jump! Jump! Jump!

Hello again!

Ah! Courtship!

Who's the baboon?

Who you callin' a baboon,

ya wee poof?

Enough monkey play!

No juveniles with us,

I trust?

Then this is your last chance

to see the Tantalising...

...Princess Kali

and her Dusky Disciple!

Oh, be still, girl!

At least that's

one of you decent!

Hurry! Hurry!

Where've you been?


Kali - Kasbah - Magicaram!

I'm receiving a message.

About time, eh?

I sent it a week ago!

I see a flower...

Gallery, mam...

Is there anyone here named...


'Aye! Up here! She's up here!

Darlin', get up!

That's a lovely pair of red knickers

you're wearing tonight, Rose!

Oh! Get away with you!

Prove her wrong, hen!

There is one I can see...

Such a lady!

Like a queen!

The lady's in a garden...

...a beautiful garden.

Third row...

She's like a flower herself.

Not a rose

a deep, dark flower


Violet's all alone.

But there's a space

beside her for another

one left behind

in this world.

For a moment, I saw a funny

wee man in a bowler hat...

Why, it's Mr. Charles Chaplin!

No. Another Charles...

...Charles Robertson.



Oh, I'm sorry, Charles.

Violet says you're not

looking after yourself.

Those cuffs are frayed.


She wants to say something.

She says...

She's sorry her heart

'wasny stronger'...

Do you understand

what she means, Charles?

It's how she went!

Her heart gave out.

It's true. It's true.

Tick-tock, tick-tock.

Who's the one

who's lost his clock?

Have you lost something,


I lost my watch!

It comes...

It comes!

From another world,

it comes!

It comes!


There is an inscription,

oh wise one...

No, no, no.

Don't tell me!

I can see it...

'To Charles,

with never ending love... '

...Your Violet'.

There's a chill wind

in the garden.

- Violet has to go...

- Oh, no...

'Until we meet again.'

'Goodbye, Charles.'

Goodbye... Goodbye... '

Oh, don't go, Violet.

Don't cling to her, Charles.

Be patient...

Until you meet again...

A glimpse of the afterlife?

Or just a glimpse of mam?

It didn't matter.

We gave them

what they wanted.

Showbiz isn't all

it's cracked up to be.

The manager skid-addled

and owed us for a whole month!

Mam said,

'See? That's men for you! '

And so we ended up livin'

in a graveyard.

A wee bit before our time.

What have you got to

laugh about?

The theatre's closed.

Those comics won't

fill your tummy!

It's just

a wee bit of fun, mam!

Oh, you sound

just like your father!

'Just a wee bit o' fun, hen! '

Then all of a sudden,

there was you!

Hurry up!

Mr. Houdini was the greatest

trickster of them all...

...and the whole world

loved him for it.

You couldn't imagine

someone like that

could want

for anything at all.

Oh, go on, mam.

Read to me.

Itjust says what's

in the picture.

You can read it yourself.

'On her death bed,

Houdini's beloved Mother... '

'...spoke her last words

to the Great Man himself.'

'Do Spirits Return? '

Houdini says -

Rate this script:3.0 / 1 vote

Tony Grisoni

Tony Grisoni (born 28 October 1952) is a British screenwriter. He lives in London. His first feature film, Queen of Hearts, directed by Jon Amiel, won the Grand Prix at the 1990 Festival du Film de Paris. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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