Let the Grim Games begin


John Cox at Wild About Houdini shares HUGE Houdini news today:

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has acquired the only known print of Houdini’s 1919 feature, The Grim Game. The movie has undergone a full restoration by renowned preservationist and silent film scholar Rick Schmidlin. The restored film will have its world-premiere at the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood in March with a live score conducted by composer Brane Zivkovic. It will then play on the TCM network later this year.

Click here for a link to the rest of the news shared by John Cox.

23 thoughts on “Let the Grim Games begin

    • I do recall someone saying that there will be no fighting over the Grim Game and that it would make its long awaited appearance in March. Who could that be? I always believed him.

  1. I believe quite a few people already knew that TCM bought the film from Larry and kept it sub rosa until John announced this. I’m not sure why it was kept a secret other than to keep Houdini fans in suspense as long as possible. I’m just glad it wasn’t Copperfield. It would have gone into a climate controlled vault in his museum and away from us in our lifetimes.

    I hope TCM puts the GG along with Houdini’s other films in one mondo box set down the road.

    • I concur. Everything about the Grim Game has been done sub rosa for years and reasons I don’t fully understand. Like I said in my earlier comments, I have been waiting years to hear this Grim news. Glad that it is finally going to be made available to the public by TCM.

  2. Well Joe, as the evil Emperor Palpatine said to Darth Vader in Star Wars Episode 6:

    “Your work here is finished my friend.”

  3. In answer to hhce… the six or so people on the inner circle of causing this to get done were very clearly instructed not to say any thing until it was announced by TCM. That information was first released to the public by TCM last Friday Jan 23. Since the funding for this came from TCM they were the ones, right so, who called the shots. I believe the following was the first press release to go out…

    This is probably the press release John Cox saw.

    Here is our side of it with some additions from last time.

    • That is fully understandable and makes sense. I was alluding to the fact about all of the secrecy about why the Grim Game has not been made available to the public for all of these years, not so much about the TCM deal. I am elated about the deal and your involvement in it. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Apparently Larry Weeks didn’t want to allow any restoration or copies made while he was alive. Mr. Weeks had his reasons that no one will ever know.

    There is still a mystery here. Weeks, at some point, transferred the print to 16mm film. The TCM restoration was made from the 16mm print. So what happened to the original print that Bess sold to Mr. Weeks?

    • In October of 1958, MUM Vol 48, No. 5 reported:
      Now Larry Weeks has acquired some 50,000 feet of silent 35mm master print from the Houdini Estate. This is all inflammable and explosive nitrate film, which if not properly cared for would have turned to powder, or have been burned and lost forever. The plum of the lot is a complete and perfect print of what has been called Houdini’s best effort — “The Grim Game”.

      To clean, re-process and reprint on 16mm safety film is a very expensive business, but Mr. Weeks feels that it should be done before some accident befalls these perishable originals. He feels that with the financial help of collectors, and Houdini Historians in particular, it can be done. Processing costs diminish rapidly when numerous prints are ordered; hence through co-operation, the films may be made available to posterity. All parties interested should write Larry Weeks, 456 Brooklyn Ave., Brooklyn 25, N.Y. for further details.

  5. Dear hhce;

    Boy, that does not jive with our experience. We tried many times over the years to get Larry to preserve the Grim Game that he claimed was rotting away but he never agreed. We even said we would pay for it, and not get a copy for ourselves but he refused. In retrospect it is possible he had already made a copy of it and did not want us to know. He was one of the most anal people we ever knew, but that may be typical of collectors. Even this last time we had to call him several times before he agreed to meet with Rick Schmidlin. I think he knew the end was near and sensed this offer might be from deep pockets. We even broached the subject of his dying and what would happen to his collection. He said he had made “provisions.” Yet we had heard he died without a will, unless there is one somewhere, or someone is holding one.

    Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz
    The Houdini Museum
    The Only Building in the World Entirely Devoted to Houdini

    • At some point, it was converted to 16mm safety film. I know Larry Weeks screened the film in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s at magic conventions, assemblies and after broken wand ceremonies. This included showing it at hotels, a school and a public library, which I doubt would allow a combustible nitrate print to be shown.

  6. It still leaves the mystery of the whereabouts of the original print. I had no idea Mr. Weeks screened the 16mm print of the GG so many times at different locations.

    John Cox mentioned that it was a shame Weeks didn’t live to see the TCM restoration project. I don’t believe it was shame since Mr. Weeks received exactly what he wished for in his lifetime: to hide the GG from us. He could have contacted TCM and had them restore it any time he wanted to while he was still alive.

  7. Be careful of drawing any conclusions, Leo. It’s not at all clear where Larry got his print and what he had exactly. I’ve heard a lot of crazy and contradictory things.

  8. Hi John–so you’re saying Mr. Weeks had the 16mm print, but beyond that is anyone’s guess? He may never have had an original copy? Did he purchase (it) from directly from Bess or her relatives after she passed away?

  9. After hearing a certain Houdin curator talk about the grim game for the longest time, I am thrilled to see it myself. Can’t wait!!!!!!

    • The wait is almost over. We no longer have to ask is this year going to be the year of the Grim Game. 2015 is the year of the Grim Game. Let the Grim Games begin. It is going to be exciting.

  10. Pingback: A Look Back at 2015, Part 1 – The Year of The Grim Game | harryhoudinicircumstantialevidence.com

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