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James Randi, illusionist, on:
the Water Torture Cell

James Randi There’s no way to see what Houdini’s greatest illusion was. I think that late in his life he considered that the Water Torture Cell was probably the most dramatic of all, because it instilled terror. You see, you actually saw him under the water in the cell, upside-down, imprisoned. And then you saw the curtain drop over it. And the tension was unbearable. It was different from the Milk Can. The Milk Can was closer, it’s true, but you didn’t see him actually under the water. With the Water Torture Cell, you did see him clearly illuminated, and you knew that he was under the water. There was no doubt of that whatsoever. So it was probably the most emotionally involving of all of his stunts. And it probably, if anything, was his greatest stage illusion.

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