Monday, April 1, 2013

No joke! Never before seen footage of Houdini and Marie Blood

It may be April Fools Day, but this is no joke. Recently our friend Jon Oliver -- the man who sleeps in Houdini's bed -- shared with me a remarkable 40 second fragment of film showing Houdini and Haldane of the Secret Service co-star Gladys Leslie cuddling and cooing over a small child with a puppy. The child, it turns out, is none other than Houdini's niece, Marie Hinson, who many Houdini buffs came to know as Marie Blood later in life. While there are photos of Houdini with young Marie, this is the only film footage that is known. Wild indeed!


But this footage is fascinating even apart from Marie. What is this exactly? It could just be Houdini, Leslie, and Marie relaxing on the set of Haldane having some fun before the camera. But I think this is much more. The head of the footage also contains a slate. This tell me this was shot specifically for the movie and looks like it could have been an alternate or even lost original ending. Terror Island had a similar ending; there Houdini and co-star Lila Lee are brought together for the final screen kiss by a small child. As it exists now, Haldane ends rather abruptly with a still photo of a ship presumably bringing Houdini/Haldane back to the United States.

The slate is also curious in that it shows the director as "King." This is almost certainly Burton King, director of The Man From Beyond. Houdini is credited for directing Haldane, but this shows that King was involved at some point. That's a bit of a game-changer. The name Zuker refers to Frank Zuker, one of two cameramen on Haldane. Note that the slate calls the film "Houdini Pro 2" (Production #2).

But enough of my yapping. I know what you want, and Jon has graciously allowed me to post the full footage here. So click below and watch film of Houdini and Marie Blood that has never been seen before (sorry for the time code). Action!



Marie Blood retained a handful of vivid memories of her "Uncle Harry" and spent the last decades of her life touring and talking about Houdini and "Aunt Bess." Marie also penned a delightful afterward in Ken Silverman's Houdini!!! The Career of Ehrich Weiss. I had the pleasure of meeting Marie in 1995, at which time she shared some family secrets. Marie Blood passed away in 2004 at the age of 87.

17 comments:

  1. I could swear there is a photo of Houdini holding up Marie that is a still from one of his films. It could heve been Haldane.

    Great job on this one, John!

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    Replies
    1. Oh, yes, there are two photos of Houdini and Marie on the set of Haldane, one she used to sign and give away. I posted that one here:

      http://www.wildabouthoudini.com/2004/11/marie-h-blood-1917-2004.html

      But this appears to be from a different day. They are dressed differently.

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    2. I'm the one who had the original photo reproduced, and copied. Marie would sign them at Mall shows, conventions, Magic shops and anywhere else we would appear (or she alone) for fans.

      I sold the bulk of these to a magic collector in Texas, who then resold them. Much to my very real chagrin, I think I lost the half-dozen or so I had left during flooding here last October. Jeff, Marie's son, may still have a few, I don't know.

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  2. This begs the question...........does Jon have any other films oh Houdini that have never been seen before?

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    1. The answer is yes. Nothing as historically or personally interesting as this one and apart from one piece of film I'm not sure there's anything that's 100% unseen (meaning fragments have appeared before). Jon has been very generous in sharing some remarkable items with me and I'm still absorbing, researching, and talking with him about what I'd like to share.

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  3. BTW, Jon said he thought the time code could be removed with editing software. I talked to a friend who's an editor and he thought it would take more sophisticated VFX software to remove it. I have a few more friends in editing and post production and I'm going to ask them about it. If I can get it removed, I'll replace it.

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  4. I'm still waiting and hoping that someone comes forward with a film of Houdini performing the WTC. You would think at some point in time his performance of his greatest escape was filmed.

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    1. Thing is, shooting film indoors back then was much more involved what with lighting and all, so it couldn't just be done during a performance. It would have needed to have been a special performance just for the camera. Everything we have of Houdini is outdoors, except for the Pathe film, so he might have never had it filmed. But oh if he did!

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  5. Incredible! I am so glad that Jon is allowing you share these items. Looking forward to see what else you share from Jon. I would love to see a script from Haldane and read scene 463.

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    1. Yes, I thought the same thing. Wish I had a Haldane script.

      Let's just say what else Jon gave me will take this blog to a whole new level, but it's going to take some work to present it correctly.

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  6. Mr. Cox, I thought I told you about a film container at Harry Hardeen home.
    After his death, his widow told me about several film containers out in the
    garage with Houdini written across the tops of them.
    One of them she thought was a film of Houdini doing the water cell.
    She knew footage was somewhere of this, and she told me the next time I was around that I was free to go thru them.
    Unfortunelately Mrs. Hardeen died shortly there after.
    Jon Oliver

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    1. Whoa! If you told me about that, I forgot. Sorry. (You've told me so many astounding things, I can't hold them all in my exploding head.) Wonder what happened to that film???

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  7. Where ever it is we should put out an all points bullitin to find it! Can we call relatives of Mrs hardeen and inquire? letting them know if found they are holding a fortune would motivate I am sure. this would be the find of the century and I'd pay just about anything to view this film.

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  8. What are we waiting for? Let's contact relatives of the family to see where this film could be stored.

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  9. This is a wonderful film. I'm sure Marie didn't know of its existence, she commented that the photos of she and Harry were her only lasting mementos, many times (these being the ones I had reproduced, so she could autograph them). Do you know who owns the rights to it? I'd love to use some stills in the Marie Blood book project.

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    Replies
    1. This came from Jon Oliver, so you'd need to ask him where he got it. Appears to be from some stock footage collection.

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