Friday, September 4, 2020

Selling The Master Mystery in the UK

Today marks the 101st anniversary of the release of Houdini's The Mastery Mystery in the United Kingdom. As in the U.S., the serial was aggressively marketed to exhibitors via trade magazines. Below are several ads from The Bioscope pushing the serial. Did you know The Master Mystery was "The Greatest Money-Maker Ever Produced"? Now you do. I especially like how the trade screenings were promoted as "Houdini Days." Enjoy.






Houdini had originally planned to be touring the UK while the serial rolled out across the country. But he changed his plans when it was decided to film his second Lasky feature, Terror Island, that Fall. When Houdini finally arrived in the UK in early 1920, The Master Mystery had done its work and England was ready to see Houdini (Himself).

6 comments:

  1. Love those Bioscope ads, along with the related four-page Houdini Herald. The MM had quite the marketing campaign. Happy Anniversary!

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    1. I knew you'd love these, Joe! I wondered whether you had ever come across them yourself. I have more I can send you.

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    2. I have access to them and they are fantastic. Arthur Moses has an original Bioscope Jan 30 1919 4 page insert, as well as an original Feb 6 1919 4 page Houdini Herald in his collection.

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  2. I'm very curious about the dots above all the "I"s in the headline use of his name--and especially the consistency of the one version of it. Wonder if he was trying to create a unique identifying brand-name logo like, say, Ford or General Electric.

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    Replies
    1. Interesting observation! The use of dots above the “I”s appears to be unique to the Master Mystery advertising.

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    2. Yeah, those dots also appear in the US exhibitor campaign. Click the related link "Master Mystery sell sheets sell on eBay" and you can see. I think that was a special "branding" of Houdini's name when related to the serial. Maybe help differentiate from his stage work. Or just good design. All the Master Mystery ads show a lot of design thought. That's one of the reasons I like them so much.

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