|Marc Wanamaker/Bison Archives. (Click to enlarge)|
This shot shows Houdini and co-star Ann Forrest posing with stunt dummies used during production. They are standing in front of one of the bi-planes used in the famous aerial sequence. The Kelly book identifies the other man as Robert F. Kennedy, the stunt man who doubled Houdini in the aviation action. He is posing with a dummy used to double actor Clifton Allison who played the pilot, Augustus Phillips. All three dummies were used in the shot of the plane as it comes crashing down into a town square following the (real) mid-air collision.
One thing that's interesting is you can clearly see the cast on Houdini's broken left wrist. Houdini had originally sustained the injury during the making of The Master Mystery. The wrist was broken in three places, and after being set, it developed adhesions on the joints and needed to be re-broken by a physician. Even after six months he had not regained full flexibility. He then re-fractured the same wrist when he took a fall from a platform while filming the jail escape sequence in The Grim Game. The injury delayed completion of filming by two weeks, and was the stated reason Houdini did not do the famous mid-air plane to plane transfer himself (possibly a blessing in disguise).
Houdini's left wrist continued to give him problems his entire life. Even as late as 1926 the wrist was reported to be at only 50% strength and in traction.
Thanks to Joe Notaro for helping me I.D. the third dummy, and to Marc Wanamaker of the amazing Bison Archives for allowing me to share this terrific image from the set of The Grim Game.
Aviators in Early Hollywood by Shawna Kelly can be purchased on Amazon.