Saturday, August 28, 2021

Watch the COMPLETE Houdini-Kellar rope tie film

Today I have something very exciting to share. We are all familiar with the footage of magician Harry Kellar demonstrating the Kellar Rope Tie (aka the Davenport Rope Tie) for Houdini and Hardeen. Unfortunately, all the surviving clips cut off just as the brothers begin to tie Kellar's wrist. But I recently came across the complete footage showing the full tying as well as Kellar's quick in and out escape. This is a thrill to finally see, so enjoy!


This was filmed in front of Hardeen's house at 394 East 21st Street in Flatbush in November 1917. The Houdinis were living with the Hardeens at this time. Kellar was in town to participate in Houdini's Antilles benefit at the New York Hippodrome on November 11.
 
This clip comes from a remarkable reel of undated footage edited and complied by Hardeen, possibly for the S.A.M.* It includes some other complete and never-before-seen clips that I will share in the coming weeks.


Thanks to Brad Hansen of Retro Cars Forever for his editing assistance. A playlist of these clips can be found on the WILD ABOUT HARRY YouTube Channel.

* UPDATE: Escape artist Rick Maisel informs me that he owns this original reel of film. According to Rick, the footage from came from the "rarest of the rare" Houdini-Dunninger collection that was sold through Joe Tanner. Rick has kindly granted me permission to continue to share select clips here on WAH, so get ready to see some great Houdini (and Hardeen) film. Thank you Rick!

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17 comments:

  1. That was incredible! And behind the back. Harry gave him the knee jab when he was tightening the knot. I wonder where Kellar stayed when he was in NYC for that Antilles benefit. 278 was out of contention.

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    1. Yeah, the knee in the back is terrific. And I love Houdini feigning amazement. Not over doing it, but giving the great man his due. SO good.

      In earlier footage we see HH and Hardeen picking up Kellar at the Hotel Astor in Times Square, so presumably that's where he stayed.

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    2. Oh that's right! Kellar was at the hotel when they picked him up. The tie was impressive!

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    3. Yes! It's clear in film just how much HH was respectful of Kellar. The tie looked great, even if you know the secret.

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  2. As much as I love new stuff on Houdini, this footage of KELLAR is breathtaking!!!! Wow! Kellar, Houdini and Hardeen, all captured on film. It's funny they spent so much time fiddling with the Shoelace Knot trick before getting to the rope tie. GREAT FIND!!!

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    1. Never knew that was called the Shoelace Knot. Thanks Dean!

      Our friend Perry pointed out on FB that this is the only footage of Harry Kellar in performance, be that it may.

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  3. Wonderful! John, you and your website continue to impress. Thank you.

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  4. Wow, that trick with the rope was the first thing I was taught at the local magic club 36 years ago! Hopefully, someone with computer skills can stabilize the image on this and soften the white out moments.

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    1. You know I think I can stabilize somewhat on YouTube itself. I'll give that a try at some point, but I have limited skills in this area.

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  5. Fantastic footage, John! Thanks so much for sharing this; a truly wonderful find. In the first section with just Harry and Kellar, one can even imagine what they're saying since it all concerns the rope tie. I also love how Harry, in the second part, takes off his coat and just lets it drop without a thought! (Bess, no doubt, rolled her eyes when she saw this.) And apparently Hardeen also had a dog!

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    1. In the past I've wondered if that is actually Houdini's dog Bobby. But there is another clip in this reel that offers some good evidence that it is Hardeen's dog.

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  6. Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing this.

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  7. I have in my possession the original celluloid film and first copy, also on 36mm film. I transferred it to dvd and this looks like it's from one of the DVDs?
    There's also Houdini's last will and testament and other footage. They came from the Rarest of the Rare Houdini-Dunninger collection, that was sold through Joe Tanner.
    In addition, at same time, I acquired an original 16mm film belonging to Hardeen and one of his bridge jumps from start to finish!
    Rick Maisel

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    1. Hi Rick,

      Thank you for the info. You are correct that this also has the last will and testament clip. But I didn't get this from any DVD. I got this from an old VHS tape found among a collection of VHS tapes in a private collection. But as you possess the original I will not share any more without your permission and I'm happy to take this one down. Just let me know. (You can email me privately if you like.)

      But this is really fantastic film with true historic value and I'd love people to see it and also add what I know.

      Thanks again.

      John

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