The Grim Game for the first time in many many years. As far as the motion picture industry was concerned, this movie was lost. Only a small 5 minute segment of film seemed to remain from the original print. The magic world, at least some of us in the magic world knew otherwise. We knew a print existed though it's condition was anyone's guess.
Thankfully, through the tireless work of Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brooks from the Houdini Museum in Scranton, Rick Schmidlin a Film Preservationist, along with Turner Classic Movies the movie was purchased from it's previous own, Houdini collector Larry Weeks and tonight the movie will make it's 21st Century debut.
I have a wish, and I doubt it would come true, but I would love to see this movie get released to movie theatres all over the country and then perhaps find it's way to get nominated by the Academy Awards Committee for some honor. If nothing else, perhaps it's time to recognize HOUDINI for his contribution to Movie Making.
Oh, by the way, I was slightly incorrect when I said that HOUDINI aka Tony Curtis wasn't going to be there. Actually, according to the list of movies at the Festival, the 1953 Paramount movie HOUDINI, starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, will be showing at the Turner Classic Movie Film Festival. I know we will get a full report from our friend John Cox about these movies. And I'm sure we will hear from Dick and Dorothy as well as they will be at the festival as well. Exciting times to be a Houdini fan!
UPDATE: Ok, I got the date wrong! It's tomorrow night. That doesn't make me any less excited about this. I'm going to throw things over to John Cox who is THERE and has been following this much better than I have. John runs WildAboutHoudini and if you don't know that you are either new to all this stuff or living under a rock. Here is his latest post about the movie, http://www.wildabouthoudini.com/2015/03/tomorrow-grim-game-will-be-free.html
Friday, March 27, 2015
Monday, February 9, 2015
There are two interesting articles on Houdini today in the news. One concerns more of the behind the scenes dealing with the Grim Game Movie acquisition. It's a very interesting article, here is the link.
The next article is about Allan Slaight's Magic Poster Collection being purchased in Canada. According to the article, "this is the second largest collection of Houdini material held in a public institution." The collection is more than just Houdini, there are 600 posters, 200 rare books and 200 documents all about the golden age of magic.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Recently, the news came out that The Grim Game was being restored and would soon appear again. This is possibly Houdini's best movie and also one that hasn't been seen by the masses since it came out in 1919. Thanks to the ongoing efforts of Dick Brookz and Dorothy Dietrich from the Houdini Museum, we have the story. And a BIG THANK YOU to both of them for once again making the impossible possible!
Houdini Museum in Scranton PA Reveals the Secrets of Uncovering Houdini's 1919 Lost Silent Film The Grim Game
Magicians Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz, from the Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA, tell the story of the finding and restoration of the long lost Houdini silent movie from 1919, "The Grim Game\u001D". Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz from The Houdini Museum in Scranton, PA revealed, "The film has not been shown to the general public for 96 years. This was one of the most sought after items in Houdini History."
Houdini's movie Grim Game made in 1919, has been unavailable until now and considered lost. Brookz commented, "The only complete copy of the film was hidden in the collection of juggler Larry Weeks who got it from Houdini's wife after Houdini died. I have known Larry since I was in my early teens. Larry trusted us and knew we would never do any thing that was not in his best interest. He knew with us involved it would be done in a proper way to protect his legacy. We even put together and host his web site" http://larryweeks.info
Dorothy and Dick had kept a friendly relationship with Larry Weeks and that is what helped to make this happen. Juggler Larry Weeks called himself "Houdini's biggest fan" and amassed one of the best Houdini collections in the world, specializing in films of Houdini. He had the only print of Houdini's lost film, "The Grim Game hidden away in his collection." He was known to show it at various occasions in his life time. It is reputed to be the best of Houdini's five films. Dick Brookz commented "Over the years Larry invited us to see the film on two occasions. He found it odd and incomprehensible when I, Dick Brookz, told him that some magicians berated him for hoarding the movie that he preserved over the years at great personal cost." Dietrich added "Our show business contact for negotiations, film producer and friend for over 20 years, Rick Schmidlin, was the right person to bring this project to fruition. Rick Schmidlin's mother, who we also knew, lived nearby The Houdini Museum. In April of 2014 Rick Schmidlin made another one of his occasional visits to The Houdini Museum in Scranton. At that meeting we decided to tell him about the whereabouts of The Grim Game and our long time friendship with Larry Weeks We called Larry Weeks on his private number and told him about Rick and our desire to have the film restored. It took several calls to convince Larry to meet with Rick. Larry finally agreed and gave us permission to pass along Larry's number. Rick set up a meeting and arranged to acquire the film for Turner Classic Movies. Rick had to jump through a lot of hoops and clear several hurdles with tough negotiations. In the end, Rick put the pieces together to get the film, have it restored and added an original movie score. The wonderful thing is that the film content is complete., although it required a lot of restoration. Just prior to this time we had spoken with Larry several times and he informed us of his rapidly diminishing health so time was of the essence. The deal was made!" Larry Weeks died October 13, 2014, before the public would get news of the acquisition on January 23, 2015.
The restored film will have an musical score composed by Brane Zivkovic an award winning film, television, and theatre composer. This was all done with financial help from Turner Classic Movies, who will premiere it at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival held Thursday, March 26 - Sunday, March 29, 2015, in Hollywood.
Dietrich continued, "We are so proud to have accomplished this. To know that essentially every magician in the world big and small, will get the thrill of viewing this wonderful Houdini movie because of us. This includes future magicians for all time, as well as millions of non magicians. It was our goal to get this to someone who would release it to the public and not hoard in their cellar or a back room somewhere. Background information.
The Houdini Museum located in Scranton, PA is the only building in the world dedicated to Houdini. It has been put together by well known professional magicians Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz. The Houdini Museum has also taken on the responsibility of taking care of the abandoned Houdini Grave site, and recently replaced Houdini's missing bust that was destroyed 40 years ago by vandals. http://houdini.org
Dorothy Dietrich is considered the leading female magician and escape artist in the world having been called "the First Lady of Magic," and "The Female Houdini." She has appeared in countless Television specials including "You Asked For It", a Bill Cosby Special, " The Tomorrow Show", "Atlantic City Alive", " Evening Magazine", "Just For The Record, the Best Of Everything", Montel Williams, etc. She was Special Guest Star in HBO's "The World's Greatest Escapes," costarring movie legend Tony Curtis, in which she escaped hanging from the bottom of a parachute ride hundreds of feet in the air while hanging from a singe piece of rope that was set on fire and she is the only women in history to accomplish The Jinxed Bullet Catch in the mouth, the one stunt Houdini backed out of. The stunt has killed over 13 men and injured many others. This stunt was done at Resorts International in Atlantic City. Both stand as world records to this day. When not doing crazy stunts such as these she travels with a magic show that features doves, a duck, a rabbit and two pet poodles. When in her home town of Scranton she appears on a regular basis on stage of The Houdini Museum. http://dorothydietrich.com
Dick Brookz has been a professional magician his entire life. He has fronted for Bobby Darin, Jack Jones, Neil Sedaka at performed at such venues as #1 Fifth Ave, The Rainbow Grill, The Americana Hotel and Casino in Puerto Rico, Aruba Hotel and Casino, etc. For a while in his spare time he wrote songs, one that became a "bubble gum" hit in the mid-west, "Powerhouse" that ended up being the theme song for the candy bar of the same name. Dick Brooks owned The Magic Towne House on the affluent Upper East Side of Manhattan. He pulled Brother Theodore out of retirement in the last 1970's for special weekend midnight performances. This resulted in a resurgence of interest in Brother Theodore that brought Brother Theodore success in his later years. The show was a success and ran for several seasons. http://dickbrookz.com
Rick Schmidlin is a film preservationist, silent film scholar, and a producer-director whose work has focused on restorations, reconstructions and documentaries. Rick is the only filmmaker to ever receive awards for two consecutive years from The National Society of Film Critics and The Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
To see this release with pictures go to http://houdini.org/houdinigrimgameuncoveredbyhoudinimuseum.html
Grim Game posters at http://houdini.org/thegrimgameposters.html