Monday, September 12, 2016

Houdini rises at Paramount

Our good friend Steven Bingen, who has written books about Warner Bros and MGM, is now completing a new book about Paramount Studios called Paramount: City of Dreams. While doing research, Steve came across this October 1952 issue of the studio newsletter showing an impressive new construction on the backlot for their upcoming production of Houdini.

Click to enlarge.

The building facade would be used to shoot Houdini's suspended straitjacket escape. Here are a few images of the shoot itself from the archives of LIFE magazine. Unfortunately, I don't know the name of the stuntman who performed the straitjacket escape that day. It's interesting to note that this was filmed around Halloween 1952.

I can't help but think what a nice companion piece the makes to last Friday's post about Houdini himself doing a stunt 33 years earlier on a building facade at the Famous Players-Lasky studio for The Grim Game. Famous Players-Lasky was later folded into Paramount.

Houdini (1953) is due to be released on a new DVD and Blu-ray on November 15. Steve's Paramount: City of Dreams will be released November 1 and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

Thank you Steve.



  1. Fantastic find! Look forward to the new book and new DVD.
    According to a production sheet for the movie, the building façade for the Straight-Jacket escape represented a skyscraper in Times Square.
    HH actually did perform his suspended straitjacket escape in Time Square on November 5, 1917; he was hauled up by a derrick on the north end (Broadway and 46th street) of the Times Square subway construction building as opposed to a 13 story skyscraper as depicted in the movie.

  2. Speaking of DVDs, any word on any re-showing of the Grim game, or on DVD?

    1. No DVD and no scheduled reshowing on TCM that I'm aware. But The Grim Game will screen at the Harry Ransom Center on Oct. 4. Just added to calendar.

  3. John, you make reference to a "stuntman" doing this USD straitjacket scene...

    MAYBE there was no "Stuntman" for Tony?

    The 4th photo is clearly a "dummy".

    Every other photo that I have from this "Life" photo-shoot shows either Tony himself suspended over a net and/or the 'dummy' (the latter used probably for camera & lighting set-ups).

    Has a "stuntman" credit ever been found for this film?

    1. Thanks Joe. I think you may be right about this.