GenreAdventure, Drama Duration CountryUnited States
English intertitles WriterArthur B. Reeve, John Grey Release dateAugust 25, 1919 (1919-08-25) Initial releaseAugust 25, 1919 (New York City) ScreenplayIrvin Willat, Walter Woods CastHarry Houdini (Harvey Hanford), Thomas Jefferson (Dudley Cameron), Ann Forrest (Mary Cameron), Augustus Phillips (Clifton Allison), Tully Marshall (Richard Raver), Arthur Hoyt (Dr. Harvey Tyson) Similar moviesSalt, Knock Knock, Blackhat, 12 Years a Slave, Saving Private Ryan, Casino Royale
Houdini the grim game 1919 the plane crash
The Grim Game is a 1919 American silent drama film directed by Irvin Willat and starring Harry Houdini and Ann Forrest. The basic plotline serves as a showcase for Houdini's talent as an escapologist, stunt performer and aviator.
A gang of men frame Harvey Hanford (Houdini) for murder, and also decide to kidnap his fiancée. Hanford is quickly apprehended by the police and falsely imprisoned for the crime. Shortly afterward, Hanford escapes and pursues the men who framed him. The film unfolds as a series of Houdini's trademark set-piece stunts and escapes; his tormentors chain him up and imprison him on numerous occasions, only for Hanford to escape. The film concludes with a climactic mid-air collision following an aeroplane pursuit. Following the collision, Hanford is reunited with his fiancée.
Harry Houdini as Harvey Hanford (credited as Houdini)
Thomas Jefferson as Dudley Cameron
Ann Forrest as Mary Cameron
Augustus Phillips as Clifton Allison
Tully Marshall as Richard Raver
Arthur Hoyt as Dr. Harvey Tyson
Mae Busch as Ethel Delmead (credited as Mae Bush)
Edward Martin as Police Reporter
Jane Wolfe as Hannah (credited as Jane Wolf)
The famous mid-air plane collision was not scripted. It was a real accident caught on film over the skies of Santa Monica, California. Stuntman Robert E. Kennedy was doubling Houdini at the time. 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.
Widely considered to have been a lost film, a complete print of the film was acquired by Turner Classic Movies from Larry Weeks, a former juggler from Brooklyn who had obtained his copy from the Houdini estate.
Following up on a lead from Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz of The Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania, The Grim Game was restored by Rick Schmidlin. TCM gave the restored version a world premiere as the closing film for their annual Classic Film Festival on March 29, 2015. TCM premiered the film on October 18, 2015.
An original 1919 movie poster from The Grim Game was auctioned by eMoviePoster.com for $67,166 on December 3, 2013, a new auction record for any Houdini poster (movie or magic). The poster was purchased by illusionist David Copperfield.