The Grim Game
|The Grim Game|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Irvin Willat|
|Produced by||Jesse L. Lasky|
|Screenplay by||Walter Woods|
|Cinematography||Frank M. Blount|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Language||Silent (English intertitles)|
The Grim Game is a 1919 American silent drama film directed by Irvin Willat and starring Harry Houdini and Ann Forrest. The basic plotline serves as a showcase for Houdini's talent as an escapologist, stunt performer and aviator.
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 chain him up and imprison 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.
- Harry Houdini as Harvey Hanford (credited as Houdini)
- Thomas Jefferson as Dudley Cameron
- Ann Forrest as Mary Cameron
- Augustus Phillips as Clifton Allison
- Tully Marshall as Richard Raver
- Arthur Hoyt as Dr. Harvey Tyson
- Mae Busch as Ethel Delmead (credited as Mae Bush)
- Edward Martin as Police Reporter
- Jane Wolfe as Hannah (credited as Jane Wolf)
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. 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.
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 gave the restored version a world premiere as the closing film for their annual Classic Film Festival on March 29, 2015. TCM premiered the film on October 18, 2015.
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.
- Kenneth Silverman (1997). Houdini!: The Career of Ehrich Weiss. HarperPerennial. pp. 239–240. ISBN 978-0-06-092862-9.
- "Turner Classic Movies to Host World Premiere Screening of Long Lost Harry Houdini Classic The Grim Game at 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival" (Press release). Turner Classic Movies. January 23, 2015. Retrieved 2015-10-18.
- Lisa de Moraes (January 23, 2015). "Rarely Seen Harry Houdini Film 'The Grim Game' To Premiere At TCM Film Festival". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2015-10-18.
- John Cox (December 3, 2013). "Houdini 'Grim Game' Poster Sets New Auction Record". Wild About Harry. Retrieved 2015-10-18.
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