Paramount-Artcraft Pictures: Classic Houdini Publicity Poses

1920s Harry Houdini Original Paramount Pictures Photo

The above photo of a classic Houdini pose just sold on eBay February 9th for $204.70; congratulations to the winner.

Below are other classic Houdini publicity poses taken when Houdini was working for Paramount-Artcraft Pictures:

TGG PressBook Cover 001

The above image of Houdini appears on the cover of the pressbook for The Grim Game as well as the pressbook for Terror Island. This image of Houdini may have been used more than any other image of Houdini for publicity abroad; See Kevin Connolly’s blog.

Lawsons Auction Sale 7919 -Lot 1813

The signed photo above will be auctioned by Lawsons in New South Wales on Friday, February 22, 2013. See John Cox’s blog for more info on auction.

Note: All of the above images can be found on various cards. Below are some examples from eBay that as of this date are currently for sale:

Topps Hollywood Walk of Fame Card

eBay 1920 Spanish Card

eBay 1920s Card from Cuba

Still 298-7 Lock Him In The Strongest Cell!

This photo (Still 298-7) is one of 5 photos that appeared in a 1920 Cinema Chat Ad for The Grim Game. It is also the image that was used to make the following 11×14 lobby card which one sold for $956 at 2010 November Beverly Hills Movie Poster Auction #7029.

So what is going on in this photo?  The description for the lobby card at auction read as follows:

Harry Houdini is manacled and about to be thrown in “the strongest cell.” But everyone who followed the top escapologist career, knew what was coming next! Note that Houdini, ever the alert showman has pulled his coat sleeves up to reveal the cuffs clearly and visibly outlined against his bare skin, so as to preclude any “trickery.” This is exactly as he performed it many times on stages throughout the world.

Spanish Trading Card Translated

A rare 1930 Spanish Houdini Trading Card just sold on Ebay for $214.50. Below is the text from the back of the card translated to English by Google translator:

One movie has been enough for this fantastic artist was known universally. Son of a wealthy merchant born in Chicago in 1887, where he studied engineering. From child showed always a strong character and determined that led to the realization of their daring plans. I build armor-plating which was the reason of his only film prinicipal “Houdini and human tank”, which gave him much popularity.

It is of a nervous temperament, and among his numerous feats has made the climb in front of  a “skyscraper” with the sole help of his feet and hands.

Now retired from filmmaking.

So now that it’s somewhat translated, what does this all mean? Your guess is as good as mine.  My real interest in this card is actually the image of Houdini on the front.  You see it is the same image that appears on the cover of The Grim Game Press Book and
The Terror Island Press Book:

RARE ORIGINAL HARRY HOUDINI 1919- THE GRIM GAME- RIALTO THEATRE PROGRAM

RARE ORIGINAL HARRY HOUDINI 1919- THE GRIM GAME- RIALTO THEATRE PROGRAM fails to sale for $231.49 on Ebay private listing that ended today; Reserve not met. Below is the description of the rare item:

FRESH TO THE MARKET -1ST TIME FROM THE ORIGINAL OWNERS ESTATE –!!A RARE ORIGINAL NOT A REPRODUCTION !! SILENT MOVIE PROGRAM SCHEDULE FROM MUSKEGON MICHIGANS  MOST POPULAR PHOTO PLAY HOUSE – THE “RIALTO”  THEATRE FEATURING HARRY HOUDINI ,PARAMOUNT STAR IN THE 1919 SILENT MOVIE “THE GRIM GAME”-THIS PROGRAM SCHEDULE FEATURES HARRY HOUDINI IN THE CENTER FOLD –(UNDERNEATH THE PICTURE PUBLISHED BY BRADFORD & CO) THIS  PROGRAM  ALSO SCHEDULES SILENT MOVIES FROM THE MAJESTIC,ELITE AND REGENT THEATRES –PRINTED ON GREY PAPER –VERY GOOD CONDITION –NO TEARS OR STAINS –SHOWS VERY LITTLE WEAR FROM HANDELING –THIS WAS FOUND FOULDED UP IN A STACK OF OLD POST CARDS -PROBABLY THE ONLY REASON IT SURVIVED ALMOST 100 YEARS!—LAYING FLAT OPEN  MEASURES 9” X 5” –FOLDED MEASURES 3-1/8” X 5”

Weird Tales Sketch Card

This is a scan of an original character sketch card by Studio-Hades that sold on eBay last month.  The scan contains slightly more contrast and considerably less detail than the original, the scan really does not do this piece justice.

It is from the WEIRD TALES 2 sketch collection and is numbered 13 in the series; there is only one of each card in a series.

The following text appears on the back of the card:

Few periodicals have had such a lasting impact on literature and popular culture as Weird Tales. First published in 1923 during the heyday of the pulp magazine, Weird Tales broke the constraints of what was conceivable in popular fiction at that time. Crafted by a diverse group of authors, including Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert Bloch, Tennessee Williams and August Derleth, they seamlessly melded themes as disparate as space viruses and necrophilia to sword and sorcery and historical speculation – all for a penny a word. Conan the Barbarian, arguably Weird Tales most famous son, enjoys more fame now than at the time of his creation.

Acheron Mint celebrates the unholy legacy of the strange, occult, the supernatural and bizarre and the fearless writers who conceived it with the Weird Tales Sketch Collection Set Two.

The sketch is of course from The Grim Game.  In fact, it was from the following famous image that can found in the Library of Congress.

Harry Houdini was a frequent Weird Tales contributor.  Here are some Houdini Weird Tales covers.

  • Weird Tales Volume 3 No. 3 March 1924 
  • Weird Tales Volume 3 No. 4 April 1924
  • Weird Tales Volume 4 No. 2 May June July 1924

Houdini’s “Strange Power Over Locks”

Above all, the performer must give the impression that he possesses some mysterious power over locks.” [Burling Hull, the Challenge Handcuff Act]

According to Patrick Cullington [Houdini the Key], Burling Hull added this text to the written instructions that went with Houdini’s Defiance Handcuff act when he republished them under his own name. Hull didn’t steal that idea from Houdini’s writings, he stole it from Houdini’s act.

Houdini’s “strange power over locks” was demonstrated in every performance of his handcuff act and it was definately demonstrated in his movies as evidenced by The Grim Game movie stills depicted in this blog. 

Everything about Houdini’s expression indicates that he is exercising a “power”. [Patrick Cullington, Houdini the Key]

 

Houdini Believes in Posters

Houdini is one of the worlds greatest showman.  He believes in posters more than any other advertising method.  He attributes his fame to his lavish use of paper.  Follow his example on his picture and see what happens. [Pressbook for Houdini’s 1919 Movie]

Below are the One Sheet Posters for The Grim Game which many of us have seen:

Reproductions of the one sheet posters are available for sale on the internet.

Next blog on posters will include the Three Sheet Posters for The Grim Game.  Then a Six Sheet Poster and last but not least, a Twenty-four Sheet Poster.

Unbelievably RARE Houdini Movie Still Movie Card

A 1919 Unbelievably RARE Houdini “The Grim Game” Movie Still Franklin Kimema Theatres Movie Card just sold on ebay.  Below are the photos and description of the rare item:

 

1919 “The Grim Game” Harry Houdini Kinema & Franklin Theatres MOVIE STILL Movie Card (Oakland, CA)

 RAREST OF THE RARE!

Houdini’s Best and Greatest LOST FILM!

“Shackles, Fetters, Chains Fail to Hold HOUDINI in “The Grim Game””

These little cards (2 3/4 x 1 & 1/4 approximately) were EXCLUSIVE to the Kinema, Franklin and the T& D Theatres in Oakland and San Francisco  (All owned by the Turner & Dahnken Theatre Circuit on the West Coast based in San Francisco!!)   These cards were NOT nationally distributed – and were exclusive to T&D Theatres! 

As far as I know – this is the only one of this image in existance.  (Correct me if I am wrong!)  This real photo collector card is advertising the UPCOMING showing at the Franklin in San Francisco, the year was obviously 1919 (Maybe 1920), but UNFORTUNATELY – the actual play dates are not printed!  FACIMILIE signature in white.  Card is in PHENOMONAL condition!  No rips, tears or ANY damage!  A ‘bump’ in the photo under certain light.  (This needs to be preserved in an acid free environment!)  SEE PHOTOS.  The 2 right corners have VERY slight bumps as well – you have to look under magnification.

EXTREMELY RARE still image from Houdini’s FIRST feature Length Silent film where he starred and produced!   This still is AFTER the mid-air plane crash, and he is bloodied and holding the limp body of his lady love – she lived!  This is actually a very handsome photo of Harry.  YOU CAN SEE IT HERE!!!  At about the 5:10 mark!  THE ACTUAL FILM FOOTAGE OF THIS STILL!!!! 

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7sXLOEaxSA

(I wish I could tell what she is holding in her right hand – I can’t even tell in the photo using a loupe!  It looks like a rock?  or a Walnut??  It obviously was part of the plot – a memento from her love, Harry?)

FROM WIKI:  The famous mid-air plane collision was not scripted. It was a real accident caught on film over the skies of Santa Monica, CA. Stuntman Robert E. Kennedy was doubling Houdini at the time. Miraculously, no one was killed, and the story was rewritten to incorporate the accident. Publicity was geared heavily toward promoting this dramatic “caught on film” moment, claiming it was Houdini himself dangling from the plane..

This card is also promoting Charles Ray in “The Egg Crate Wallop”.

 

L302-55 versus L302-60 Part II

My previous blog, L302-55 versus L302-60, which we will call Part I showed two famous images of Houdini standing shackled in a Jail Cell with cuffs and ball & chains that are similar but slightly different images.

This blog which we will call Part II presents some physical evidence of where these images have shown up.

In the Los Angeles Times, The Book Review Section, on Sunday, January 22, 1978, the L302-55 image appeared in the article that Ricky Jay did on the book Houdini: His Legend and His Magic by Doug Henning with Charles Reynolds.  The funny thing is that in the actual book, the L302-60 image is the image that appears in the book on page 147.

Also, there was a seller on E-Bay who was selling an item titled, Famous HOUDINI with chains photograph-Antique NegativeOne of the better quality portraits of Houdini extant that had a picture of the actual negative for sale and a picture of what it would supposedly look like developed.  On closer inspection, the negative was of L302-60 and the developed picture was of L302-55; note both pictures on E-Bay had the L302 numbers cropped off.

See below for more evidence.

L302-55:

L302-60: