The Grim Game
|The Grim Game|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Irvin Willat|
|Produced by||Jesse L. Lasky|
|Written by||Arthur B. Reeve
|Cinematography||Frank M. Blount|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
A gang of men frame Harvey Hanford (Houdini) for murder, and also decide to kidnap his fiancée. Hanford is quickly apprehended by the police and falsely imprisoned for the crime. Shortly afterward, Hanford escapes and pursues the men who framed him. The film unfolds as a series of Houdini's trademark set-piece stunts and escapes - his tormentors chaining him up and imprisoning him on numerous occasions, only for Hanford to escape. The film concludes with a climactic mid-air collision following an aeroplane pursuit. Following the collision, Hanford is reunited with his fiancée.
Widely considered to have been a lost film, a complete print of the film was acquired by Turner Classic Movies from Larry Weeks, a former juggler from Brooklyn who had obtained his copy from the Houdini estate.
Following up on a lead from Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz of The Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania, The Grim Game was restored by Rick Schmidlin. TCM plans to screen it at their annual Classic Film Festival in March 2015.
The famous mid-air plane collision was not scripted. It was a real accident caught on film over the skies of Santa Monica, California. Stuntman Robert E. Kennedy was doubling Houdini at the time. Miraculously, no one was killed, and the story was rewritten to incorporate the accident. Publicity was geared heavily toward promoting this dramatic "caught on film" moment, claiming it was Houdini himself dangling from the plane.
An original 1919 movie poster from The Grim Game was auctioned by eMoviePoster.com for $67,166 on December 3, 2013, a new auction record for any Houdini poster (movie or magic). The poster was purchased by illusionist David Copperfield.
- Dietrich Brookz Houdini Museum provides lead
- Houdini!!!: The Career of Ehrich Weiss, Kenneth Silverman, 1997, pp. 239-240
- The Grim Game at the Internet Movie Database
- I've seen The Grim Game - Wild About Harry blog.
- How The Grim Game was uncovered - Houdini Museum Grim Game
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