Saturday, September 29, 2012

The master mystery of the grim drain

Kevin Connolly has posted a terrific photo of Houdini tied between two drain pipes spouting water at his blog, Houdini Himself [UPDATE: Kevin's site is now offline so this photo is no longer available.] It's an image I've never seen before. According to Kevin, the shot appeared in a 1920 magazine and is from Houdini's silent serial, The Master Mystery. That's exciting because this means it is one of the "lost" escapes not on the existing print/DVD (according to Patrick Culliton, the original uncut serial has two escapes per episode).

I'm wondering if the photo below, from my own collection, is from this same sequence? This pic appears in Christopher's Houdini A Pictorial Life with photos from The Grim Game; but this isn't in The Grim Game screenplay and the clothes and ropes on Houdini seem to match Kevin's shot. However, he doesn't appear wet here.

Anyway, check out the terrific photo of Houdini lashed to "the grim drain" at Kevin Connolly's Houdini Himself.

UPDATE: Checking out The Master Mystery photoplay, I believe I've found the escape depicted in Kevin's photo. The scene is set inside a water tank on top of De Luxe Dora's apartment (page 138):

There were two spouts at the bottom of the tank through which water was pumped. Also there were pipes running upward. To these pipes they tied Locke. Then the men climbed out and, as their last fiendish act, turned the water on.
With a sneer Dora turned and led the way down-stairs again.
"They'll find his body when they have to clean the tank again," she exclaimed.

Having found this description, I now don't think the photo I posted above is from the same sequence. There we see brick walls and a wood floor. Certainly not inside a water tank. Kevin believes this pic might be from the acid vat sequence.


  1. Great detective work on finding the escape depicted in Kevin’s incredible photo. It led me to check my copy of The Master Mystery First Edition 1919 where I found the same scene on page 138.

  2. Oh, thanks, Joe. I'll change it to page 138. I was using an electronic version so I could key word search.

  3. Nice work boys.

    Now let's find "The Soul of Bronze". :)

    1. I'd settle for even a poster. ;)

    2. The best I can do is a Láme Du Bronze French Silent Movie Poster:

    3. I'll be darned. Is that OUR The Soul of Bronze? It was a French film Houdini acquired.

    4. Not sure if it is OURS; the poster’s estimated date fits the time when the French Film Láme du bronze came out; this would have been before Houdini picked up the US distribution and copyrighted the story under his own name as The Soul of Bronze.