Sunday, December 4, 2011

Watch Houdini's overboard box escape

Having discovered a way to combine Quicktime movies for my 13 second Grim Game assemblage, I've now gathered together several trims of what is Houdini's only filmed overboard box escape (to my knowledge) to give us the full event in 01:37. These clips come from The Learning Channel's 1999 documentary, The Greatest, the 1971 BBC documentary, The Truth About Houdini, and The Houdini Code (2008).

Unfortunately, I don't know where or when this escape was filmed. But I love then tension you can feel as the crate is lowered into the water and the agonizing beat as it is completely submerged up to the lid...and then plunges lower. Also, is that Harry Kellar who shakes Houdini's hand at 20 seconds and then looks at the camera at 31 seconds as the box is lifted away? Check out the screen capture on the right. I think it is.

Enjoy the show.

UPDATE: This is confirmed to be Harry Kellar. The man standing next to Kellar, who also shakes Houdini's hand, is magician Nate Leipzig.

UPDATE 2: You can now watch a more complete and clearer version of this footage HERE.


  1. The Overboard Box Escape was usually done at some pier in New York City. I see lots of trees so it's probably somewhere else on this film.

    Perhaps it was filmed in somewhere in Jersey? There's a long retaining wall at the river's edge.

  2. this web site is just awesome. Never ever saw the beginning of this clip before.Whats with the small flag Houdini is holding and sticks out from the box? A signal to his assistents that he is free from the cuffs and that the gaff is ok and he is safe to continue the escape? I assume he tells the surrounding nearby audience and press that the flag just proves he is in the box after its been sealed? Next it would be great to splice together the French movie Houdini made back in 1902. Ive seen it in bits and pieces but never as one continious clip.

  3. Thanks Anon. That front piece is from the TLC doc. Finding that is what inspired me to assemble this. I think the flag is to just show that he's inside the whole time. You can't really see it, but I believe it's waving all the way to the waterline.

    As far a location goes...that's a mystery, but the presence of Harry Kellar suggests this could be the west coast.

  4. An unrelated there anyone that is known, still alive, who saw Houdini perform on stage?

  5. Sure looks like Kellar to me. Kellar lived on the East Coast before he retired, so I'm not sure his presence in the video is an indication of where it took place. Very cool though that you picked him out of the crowd!

  6. any idea on how he escaped from the box and kept it intact, maybe pulling side or bottom boards inward?
    in relation the unrelated anon question. how is it that of all his siblings their bloodline diminished vs grew?!?

    1. Maybe teleportation or could it be that he's a ghost???

  7. I'm always perplexed by how much traffic this old post attracts. Number 1 this week. Can anyone tell me what is drawing you here? Just curious. Thanks!

  8. This post always get so much traffic. Still don't know why.

    But heads up that I have the complete clip that runs a good 2 mins longer and I will be sharing that very soon.