Monday, November 18, 2013

Unpublished Houdini: Harry at work

Welcome to Unpublished Houdini. In this series I share a new never-before-published photo of Houdini every Monday from our generous Hinson Endowment.

Here is an unpublished shot of Houdini hard at work in Hollywood on his first feature length film, The Grim Game. I'm not sure if this is a scene from the actual film. There is another photo of Houdini on this same wall hanging upside down holding actress Ann Forrest in his arms (which can been seen in Gibson's Original Houdini Scrapbook page 148). That shot was almost certainly taken for publicity, so maybe this one was as well? What I'd really like to know is whether this wall still exists somewhere in Los Angeles. [UPDATE: Now I know.]

"The present generation can see me in person, but I want my most thrilling feats perpetuated on the screen, so people in later years can assure themselves that I actually did them. That's why I have saved the most sensational stunts I have ever done for this picture and have worked my head off to make them as successful as possible."

The irony of Houdini's quote above (from The Grim Game pressbook) is that The Grim Game is the one Houdini movie that isn't available to the very audience that Houdini says he is making the film for. Hopefully at some point a print will free up and we will finally be able to enjoy the result of Houdini's hard work.

Oh, what the heck, here's a bonus photo. This shot shows Houdini and Ann Forrest in some Grim Game cliffhanger action. The man works hard, people!

Click to enlarge.

More Unpublished Houdini:


  1. I am so glad that these Grim Game stills (298-15 and 298-40) can now be shared with everyone; My sincere thanks to John Hinson. Hopefully one day, a print of the Grim Game can be shared.
    I have seen another still (298-14) that shows Houdini going over that wall as 3 police officers and 3 hospital attendants give up chase; According to the Paramount script, Houdini frees himself from a strait-jacket and then scales the wall and disappears over the other side. As far as whether the wall still exists in Los Angeles, the wall photo with Ann Forrest has the best clues (i.e., Lamp Post and a tall building in the background). If someone knows, please let us know.

  2. Ironically, the "most thrilling stunts" we'd really like to see are his stage shows. Oh, well.