Houdini risked his life and sustained injury in making “The Grim Game”

Mr. Houdini in a short speech before the showing of the picture expressed his pride in the picture, and his hope that it would be a popular success.  He said: “This is really the first big picture that I have ever done and I am banking a great deal on its success.  If it goes across it will mean a lot to me.  I risked my life a dozen times in the making of it, and broke several bones.  I assure you that there is absolutely no trick photography in the entire picture, all of the stunts having been actually performed.  I thought of my life insurance policy all the time during the filming.”  [Sphinx September 1919, page 162]

In a fierce battle in which Houdini fights with a quartet of burglar “extras” his wrist snapped in the midst of the action and, though the scene was finished, further work on the picture had to be postponed for several weeks for it was found that a large bone in his wrist had been broken clearly in two.  [The Mt. Sterling advocate, March 02, 1920]

In Houdini’s previous movie, The Master Mystery: He did all his own stunts for the movie, and according to Bess, suffered from three broken bones in his left wrist and seven black eyes. The black eyes healed quickly enough, but the broken wrist troubled him for months afterward. [Harry HOUDINI, Death-Defying Showman by Rita Thievon Mullin]

And in escaping one of the prison cells, he again fractured his left wrist, not as badly as the year before but enough to have his arm wrapped and delay completion of the film by two weeks. [Houdini!!!  The Career of Ehrich Weiss by Kenneth Silverman]

So much for break a leg; in Houdini’s case, it was break a wrist.


Happy Valentines Day! The Grim Game is a powerful romance.

Every critic says that “The Grim Game” has more thrills than any play ever conceived, and the romance which carries these thrills is one of the best of its kind ever written.  The heart interest is of the most intense kind, and what is best it is clean, wholesome true heart interest that grips by reason of its truth to human nature, Picture-lovers will have in “The Grim Game” not only a powerful romance, but a story that contains the greatest thrills ever produced, a coherent, clever narrative, and staged in a manner that excites wonderment.

 See Harry Houdini’s Romance in the movie.

The Poverty Bay Herald, Thursday 1920

Have you seen Ann Forrest in The Grim Game?

John Cox launched a blog post today featuring a look back at the leading ladies who starred the bill with Houdini in his silent movies.  He started off with Ann Forrest who co-starred with Houdini in “The Grim Game”.  This inspired me to do this post on “Have you seen Ann Forrest in The Grim Game?”:

How many photos of Ann Forrest from “The Grim Game” have you seen?

So far, I have seen the following:

This photo above also appears on page 360 of The Secret Life of Houdini by William Kalush with the caption: “Harry gets cozy with a young Gloria Swanson”.  Note: This is an error: it is really Ann Forrest.


The above photo also appears on page 148 of The Original Houdini Scrapbook by Walter B. Gibson with the following caption: “Agile and acrobatic as well as physically powerful, Houdini stages a heroic film rescue”.


The photo above is identified as being from the movie “Haldane of the Secret Service” more times than not, but it is actually from “The Grim Game”.

Click on the links below to see other photos of Ann Forrest:

Also, in Milborne Christopher’s, Houdini A Pictorial Life, on page 96 there is a rarely seen photo of Houdini and Ann Forrest with the following caption next to it: Only the heroine believed he was innocent, not guilty of an alleged murder.

American Heritage April 1972 Houdini’s High-flying Hoax by Art Ronnie on Page 108 has a picture of Ann Forrest posing with the principals of the air collision after the accident.   Robert Kennedy seems to be thinking more about film star Ann Forrest than about his brush with death.

Have you seen any others?