Reuel Meditz conducts a Live Score for Harry Houdini’s Film

11222190_1020121138031971_6088671548215331512_nSounds like Reuel Meditz had a fun night Sunday, July 19th, performing at the Paramount Stateside Theater in Austin for the Houdini film, “The Grim Game” during its first Texas premiere.

11059984_10205794789123594_1431327149334424925_nAccording to Reuel Meditz on social media, it was an honor to see his name on the marquee sign in front of the Paramount State Theater and be part of this historical project.
11745533_1020120958031989_5983325864792573526_nIt was a very enthusiastic audience and Reuel had a blast playing for everyone.

11182153_1020121174698634_4022622326252209363_nAfter his live piano performance, Reuel answered questions.

According to social media, it was an “amazing score” and “great night”.


The Grim Game has a Score to Settle

BraneScore_TheGrimmGame-300x200Brane Zivkovic conducted a live performance of his new original score for Harry Houdini’s silent film, The Grim Game, at the TCM Classic Film Festival (Egyptian Theater in Hollywood) on Sunday March 29, 2015.

GG Screens Austin Texas 071915

Now on Sunday, July 19, 2015, Composer/Pianist Reuel Meditz will accompany the film with his own original score at the historic “Stateside at the Paramount Theater” in Austin, Texas.

I wonder why they decided to change the music for this screening.

It will be interesting to hear thoughts and impressions on Reuel Meditz’s score compared to the Brane Zivkovic’s score.


John Cox at Wild About Houdini who wrote an incredible review of the screening in Hollywood had this to say about Brane’s Zivlovic’s score:

The new score by Brane Živkovic might be the most controversial aspect of the restoration. Make no mistake, his music is beautiful, and it works incredibly well in places. But this is Živkovic’s first score for a movie, a specialized skill, and he makes a few unconventional choices for a silent film, such as occasionally using no music at all. The decision to not score the jail cell shackle escape was a point of discussion after the screening. I personally liked the choice to let the escape play in total silence. I thought it created tension, almost like a silent drum roll. But others felt thrown. Also, by the end of the film, his four compositions were starting to feel repetitive. But I was happy and relieved that he created a whole new piece for the final plane chase and crash. Still, I’m hoping TCM allows a little more work on the score — perhaps having Živkovic compose a few new pieces and bringing in a music editor — before the movie hits the TCM channel.

BTW: TCM will air The Grim Game on Sunday October 18 at 8:00  PM (ET) and again at 11:45 PM (ET).  It will be interesting to see if they do a little more work on the score.

I would also love to hear the entire original score from 1919, as opposed to just the plane chase and crash which you can check out at this link on YouTube.

For a modern soundtrack and video of the plane crash, check out this link on YouTube.

UPDATE:  Below is the Musical Synopsis from the 1919 Press Book for “The Grim Game”

1919 Musical Synopsis TGG


“The Man From Beyond” and a Personal Appearance of another Escape Artist

Harry Houdini was known to make personal appearances at his movies.

While visiting Fred Pittella in NYC, he shared evidence of another Escape Artist making a personal appearance at one of his movies.  Fred graciously allowed me to share this evidence below:

In 1922 on Friday, Saturday & Sunday, December 15th, 16th, & 17th,  The Man From Beyond”was playing at the Stadium Theatre located at Third Ave & 119th street, New York.  As an added attraction in conjunction with Harry Houdini’s master production “The Man From Beyond”, the escape artist Genesta was to make a personal appearance and escape from a barrel of water:

Genesta and TMFB Pittella Collection A

Credit: Fred Pittella Collection

Wizard of wonders in his sensational and death-defying escape from a barrel of water. After being securely handcuffed by a committee selected from our audience and locked in a barrel.  This is positively the most sensational death-defying stunt ever attempted.  Bring your own padlock.  Inspect barrel in front of theatre. This barrel is the exact duplicate of the infamous torture barrel used in Russia by the Bolshevicks which many of the royalty were tortured and put to death.  To see it is to believe it.

Genesta Pittella Collection A

Credit: Fred Pittella Collection

Special Thanks to Fred Pittella!

FP_LOGO_0009_small_bannerPlease check out Fred Pittella’s excellent website, Houdini and Escapes Museum to see lots of photos of Fred’s magnificent Houdini and restraints collection.


Nevertheless, to get his picture talked about he made personal appearances with it for about three weeks…

He also created four touring companies, hoping to gain a national audience for The Man From Beyond by presenting it in connection with “The Houdini Wonder Show of 1922.” One or two well-known magicians or escape artists headed each unit, notably Frederick Eugene Powell…

Houdini appeared at the opening show of each unit, and made it clear that these were his shows, combined with his movie. [Silverman]


The so-called miracle of July 4, 1922

Ernst houdini

On July 4, 1922, Houdini was enjoying an Independence Day picnic and fireworks display at the suburban New York home of his lawyer and friend Bernard Ernst:

…my greatest feat of mystery was performed in 1922 at Seacliffe, L. I., on the Fourth of July, at the home of Mr. B. M. L. Ernest.  The children were waiting to set off their display of fireworks when it started to rain.  The heavens fairly tore loose.  Little Richard in his dismay turned to me and said:

“Can’t you make the rain stop?”

“Why certainly,” I replied and raising my hands said appealingly, “Rain and Storm, I command you to stop.”

This I repeated three times and, as if by miracle, within the next two minutes the rain stopped and the skies became clear.  Toward the end of the display of fireworks the little fellow turned to me and with a peculiar gleam in his eyes said:

“Why, Mr. Houdini, it would have stopped raining anyway.”

I knew I was risking my whole life’s reputation with the youngster but I said:

“Is that so?  I will show you.”

Walking out in front I raised my hands suppliantly toward the heavens and with all the command and force I had in me called:

“Listen to my voice, great Commander of the rain, and once more let the water flow to earth and allow the flowers and trees to bloom.”

A chill came over me for as if in response to my command or the prayer of my words another downpour started, but despite the pleading of the children I refused to make it stop again.  I was not taking any more chances.

[A Magician among the Spirits]

Note:  Although there is no reason to doubt Houdini’s story, Ernst himself omits it from his book (Houdini and Conan Doyle) about his friend.

According to the New York Times, the local weather that July 4 was “extremely humid”, though with no mention of a storm.  In that same week, the Brooklyn Bridge was closed to automobile traffic after engineers discovered a slipped suspension cable that had “warped in the drought.” [Master’s of Mystery]

H A P P Y  4 T H  O F  J U L Y  !