Houdini the Grim Game Glass Movie Slides

Congrats to the winner of this beautiful slide that just sold for $846.99 on eBay:

A similar slide sold for $2,350.00 on 10/11/2015:

Back in the day you could get this slide as part of a set of four for sixty cents:

Image from 1919 Grim Game PressBook

Today that set would cost you a tad bit more. Below are some sale prices/dates and color images of the other three slides from the set that sold at auction:

6/16/2015 $161.00

4/10/2016 $232.00

8/2/2015 $950.00

6/16/2015 $611.00

Lot 120 One Sheet Grim Game Poster

Lot 120 PP June 25

On June 25th, Potter&Potter will be having a Golden Age of Magic Posters the Nielsen Collection auction that will include a beautiful one sheet Grim Game Poster (See Lot 120 Description below).  For more details on other items being offered and a downloadable catalog, you can go to Potter and Potter website: http://www.potterauctions.com/.

The estimate for the Grim Game poster is $40,000/60,000.

Lot 120 Description:

Houdini, Harry (Ehrich Weisz). Houdini In The Grim Game. Cleveland: Morgan Litho., 1919. Iconic one-sheet poster for this silent film presented by Jesse Lasky, and featuring the world’s most famous magician and escape artist, pictured at the center of the image in a straight jacket and being held back by a group of eight men, including police and hospital attendants. 28 x 41″. Minor restoration at old folds and a few tiny chips. A-. Scarce. Houdini starred in this stunt and escape-filled film opposite Ann Forrest, who played his fiancée. As Harvey Hanford, Houdini is framed for murder and falsely imprisoned, but escapes his jail cell and pursues the men who framed him and also kidnapped his fiancée. The film concludes with a mid-air collision of two airplanes, which was unplanned at the time of the filming, but was later worked in to the script to utilize footage of the crash, an event that had, until that time, never been captured on film. The movie was directed by Irvin Willat and featured a story by John Grey and Arthur Reeve. Produced by Famous Players-Lasky, it was distributed by Paramount Artcraft Pictures. All posters advertising this film are scarce and desireable, as they combine the allure of the silent film era with the unforgettable and iconic escapes that made Houdini the most famous magician of the century.


  • The one-sheet for Houdini’s The Grim Game sold for $24,000 (including buyer’s premium) with just one bid! It fell well below the estimate.


Random Treasures Inaugural Auction was a Grim Game

Last Week, Random Treasures International had their inaugural auction that had approximately 25 Houdini items up for bid. Twelve of the items got passed on without a bid, including a Buried Alive Poster for $13,000. The starting bids were awfully high on most items IMHO.  The items that did sell were the photos and movie related items and they went between $200 and $410 w/o auction fees, despite many of them being cropped on the web-page.  I bid on one item and won, or at least I thought I did, but when I checked the site later, there was no confirmation.  I sent an email via LiveAuctioneers to Random Treasures International requesting status, but never heard anything one way or another. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.  That said, there were three Grim Game stills for sale, L302-54 (Lot 80), L302-14 (Lot 82) and L302-42 (Lot 84) which I would like to comment on:


To read about the events that led up to Houdini going over the wall in the movie, see the following post: Over the Edge With Death Below and Imprisonment Above!


L302-54To read about why Houdini is being visited at the jail cell in the movie, see the following post: THE GRIM GAME Cinema Trade Promotion (Stills 298-54 and 298-63)



And keep reading this blog to find out what the scene in still L302-42 is all about:

As Houdini creeps toward the door of the Lodge, the unknown assailant seizes a bolo from the wall and hides under the cot.  Houdini cautiously, closes the door behind him and strikes a match.  He throws the burning match on the floor, then turns and starts towards Ethel’s unconscious form.  He steps in his tracks as the burning match which he dropped near the cot is put out by a hand from under the cot.  Houdini is standing very close to the cot when he sees this.

We see Houdini’s boots standing near the cot. The bolo swings viciously toward them and they crumble.

We then see that Houdini, has swung himself to the rafter, leaving the boots on the floor.  He swings his legs over the rafter, reaches down and lifts the cot from over his man.  In the light we recognize Allison.

Houdini drops from the rafter and a terrific fight ensues between Allison armed with the bolo and Houdini.  [Paraphrased from Paramount Files at Margaret Herrick Library]

An Amazing Magical Work of Art

The following amazing magical work of art that was estimated to sell between $1,200/$1,500 just sold yesterday at Potter & Potter Auctions for the starting bid of $600.00.  Congratulations to the winner.  BTW, I was the winner.

Houdini Grim Game Limited Edition 1 of 10

366. Houdini, Harry. Grim Game Dimensional Giclée Print. American, 2006. By Dave Avanzino. Number 1 from a signed and numbered edition of 10. Recreating a three-dimensional version of the color lithograph advertising Houdini’s silent film, The Grim Game. Handsomely framed to an overall size of 18 ¼ x 24 ¼”. Signed and numbered by the artist. Fine condition.

This artwork originally debuted at the Los Angeles Conference on Magic History in November of 2007 with remaining pieces offered to the rest of the magic community via ads in magic magazines like Genii (e.g., Vol 71 Issue 3 and 5). The listing price in the ads was $1200 each.

Mixed Media and famed Disney Artist David Avanzino used this beautiful rich piece to create a unique dimensional scene where the characters seem to come alive and float in space.  Each element has been hand cut by the artist and, after painting the edges of each piece, he assembled them in a shadow box of amazing dimensionality.

The classic poster image was reproduced from the library of Nielson Magic Posters with their permission.  All of their posters are scanned directly on 1:1 proportion from the original.

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.

Aeroplane Sketches

The following original art work sold at the Manuscript and Collectibles Auction in November 5, 2005:

(Houdini) Original Art Work. Pencil and Ink Sketch, 20″x12½”, Signed by the artist: “R.B. Ogle / 1920.” The scene shows a frightened Houdini dangling by a rope from one bi-plane as it crashes with a second plane. This scene actually occurred while Houdini was filming The Grim Game. The legend below the sketch, with the title “Exploits of Houdini,” quotes Houdini: “…I was dangling from the rope end ready for the leap. Suddenly a strong wind turned the lower plane upwards, the two machines crashed together – nearly amputating my limbs – the propellors locked in a deadly embrace, and we were spun round and round….” This scene could possible have been drawn for a lobby card to be exhibited in the theater. In any event, it is intriguing.  Realized:  $1265

(Houdini) Art Work From The Master of Mystery. Pencil and Ink Sketch, 10¾”x14½” of Houdini looking over the side of a biplane assessing his next action as the pilot watches., c. 1919. Lower border identifies the scene as being from “‘The Master of Mystery (7th instal. p. 4.)” “Kinema Comic” is stamped in the lower left border, and some measurements are marked on the sketch, which is mounted to board. R.B. Ogle is identified as the artist on the back. The art work was probably for a lobby card.  Realized:  $575

The Grim Game Core Experience

I decided to go for it.  That is, I took a day off from work and drove to the Margaret Herrick Library with the hope of making a future appointment to finally see The Grim Game, Master File 681 Paramount Script Collection and Archive of photos (original stills).

I showed up at the Margaret Herrick Library with a notepad, pencil and driver’s license.  The guard at the front greeted me, took my drivers license and had me fill out some paper-work.  After signing in, he told me to take the elevator to the second floor and check in at the desk.

My heart was pounding as I got off the elevator.  I was given a library card that was good for the day; I was then directed to go discuss my research project with the librarian.

Within moments, the librarian filled out a card for me to see the core collection for The Grim Game and the core collection for Terror Island.

The Grim Game core collection consisted of three envelopes:

Contents of Envelope 1 (1 card)

Contents of Envelope 2 (4 pages)

  • Copy of November 1919, Photoplay article (Page 112 and Page 115)
  • Copy of New School , program notes by Wm. K. Everson, “3/1/1974” (1 page)
  • B&W Copy of Page 19 from MUM Society of Americans Magicians Monthly Magazine August 1919 (Click here to see it in color)

Contents of Envelope 3 (Six stills): The two in bold (298-19 and 298-51), I had never seen before

  • 289-19 (Note:  prod#  is mis-labeled on still, should be 298 not 289)  Harry Houdini and Ann Forrest reading The Daily Call Illustrated Magazine
  • 298-51 (similar to this Library of Congress image) minus the chains and cuffs
  • L302-64 (same as this Lot 271 image that sold at Potter and Potter auction)
  • 298-16 (same as image found in MAGIC April 2001 magazine on page 106) Harry Houdini risks his life to escape by leaping out of moving car
  • 298-53 (same as this Kevin Connolly’s L302-53 image but with 298-53 prod# on it)
  • 298-87 (same as image in Grim Game Press Book  and image in The Adventurous Life of Versatile Artist) Harry Houdini lying down on the top wing of an airplane


After reviewing the core files, the librarians showed me how to use the library computers and helped me locate some other references on Houdini.

While I was there reviewing other Houdini references, I also had the opportunity to discuss my research project with Barbara Hall, Special Collections Research Archivist and Faye Thompson, Photograph Department Coordinator.  And schedule an appointment to see The Grim Game, Master File 681 Paramount Script Collection and Archive of photos (original stills).   Stay tuned!