Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Houdini's great wall

While browsing photos at the online archive IMAGO, I spotted this shot of Houdini in Los Angeles that I've never seen before. 

You may recognize this as Houdini atop a large wall that appears in several stills from The Grim Game. The wall does not appear in the movie itself, so it's unclear if this was a cut scene or if the wall was just used to stage these "action" shots.

You'll notice Houdini is having his feet tied in this new image (is that Jim Collins doing the tying?). I'm wondering if this is how he pulled off the shot that shows him holding co-star Ann Forrest.

In 2015 the great Los Angeles locations sleuth John Bengtson identified this as being the retaining wall that fronted the old County Court House on what was then New High Street in downtown L.A. If there was any doubt about this, this new pic confirms it as you can see the court house behind Harry.

The old court house is long gone, but John did point out that some people believe part of the retaining wall remains on current corner of Temple and Spring. You can see that below. Thinking back on those times I've done jury duty in this building, I never knew I was passing in front of Houdini's great wall!

Thanks to John Bengtson.

UPDATE: Another photo mystery solved at this same site. Check out Locating Houdini's lion.


  1. Wow, that is an incredible image!
    The wall was used to stage the publicity shots and was cut from the movie due to Houdini’s broken wrist.
    According to the Paramount Script: Houdini frees himself from a straitjacket, swings like a pendulum at the end of the rope, catapults his body through a small window; and then scales a wall and disappears over the other side.
    However, this changed to the following: Captured after a fight, Houdini was taken to a rooftop, strapped in a straitjacket and suspended head down over the side. He released himself, fell into an awning, then dropped to the ground.

  2. That's definitely the remaining section of the wall. The brick structure is identical.

  3. Excellent reporting, well done. Especially intriguing is the iconic photo of him upside down holding onto the female actress. She is significantly elevated above the street, wonder how she got into position for that shot!