Houdini Museum Announces Hollywood Tour

Inside Magic Image of The Grim Game PosterInside Magic Favorites Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz  will be traveling west to lead tour of Hollywood Houdini Sites on what would have been the great magician’s 141st Birthday, March 24.

Ms. Dietrich and Mr. Brookz recently uncovered Houdini’s long lost film The Grim Game are in Hollywood as special guests of Turner Classic Movies to introduce the world premiere of the film.

Those in the know consider The Grim Game the best of Houdini’s five feature films but it has not been seen by the public for more than 96 years.  Thanks to Ms. Dietrich and Mr. Brookz, the film will be featured as part of the finale of the TCM Film Festival, March 29.

After the Hollywood showing, it will be exhibited at The Directors Guild in New York City and then in Scranton, Pennsylvania – the home of the incredible Houdini Museum.  Turner Classic Movies intends to broadcast the film on their cable channel later in the year.

The Hollywood tour will begin on March 24 at 10 AM in front of the Hollywood Heritage Museum at 2100 Highland Ave. The museum was once part of the Famous Players-Lasky Studio where Houdini made The Grim Game.  Dorothy Dietrich will perform magic for those in attendance and then she and Mr. Brookz will join John Cox for a private Hollywood tour.  Mr. Cox is the host of the most important Houdini website in the universe, Wild About Harry.

The Houdini Museum has the largest and only continuing traveling exhibit on Houdini, “Houdini Road Show,” that has finally all come back from being on display at the Seminole Coconut Creek Casino in West Palm Beach.

Ms. Dietrich and Mr. Dick Brookz are also currently starring in Psychic Theater’s Haunted Seance!  The show is the longest running performance of its kind in history – more than 10 years at the Houdini Museum Theater.

Visit The Houdini Museum at http://www.houdini.org.

David Ben Advises Canadian Museum on Houdini Collection

Houdini Buried AliveMagician David Ben is in the news today as Montreal’s McCord Museum announced it has acquired a collection of 600 posters, 200 rare books and 200 documents documenting magic in the 19th to early 20th centuries.  The acquisition cost approximately $3,000,000.00 but sounds priceless.

Mr. Ben is  the Artistic Director of Magicana – an organization dedicated to the study of magic – and was a key adviser to the museum.

“It’s the second-largest collection of Houdini material held in a public institution,” Mr. Ben told reporters today.

The US Library of Congress houses the largest collection.

The materials will be made available for scholars and will be the subject of a 2017 exhibition at the museum.

The artifacts trace Houdini’s beginnings as a magician in eastern Canada, but also the rise of spiritualism – the belief that the dead can communicate with the living. It also “tracks the social history of advertising” through the use of lithography and its posters, Ben said.

The acquisition is the gift of the Emmanuelle Gattuso Foundation.  Ms. Gattuso is the wife Standard Broadcasting’s Allan Slaight.  Before becoming a major media mogul, Mr. Slaight was a professional magician and mind reader.

We will keep you advised on public opportunities to view the collection.  We cannot wait.

Read more in The Montreal Gazette.

Houdini’s Classic Film The Grim Game Restored

Inside Magic Image of The Grim Game PosterTurner Classic Movies will air its restoration of the previously considered lost Houdini film The Grim Game at its TCM Classic Film Festival in March.

Like all magic enthusiasts, we have seen the movie poster for The Grim Game and perhaps some stills or clips but never the entire film.

In fact, we were speaking with Magic Castle Librarian Lisa Cousins just a couple of weeks ago and she shared a rumor that the only remaining print might become available in the near future.  She, like the Oracle at Delphi, offered nothing more; indicating but not revealing.

We are loyal TCM watchers and love learning about movies – and surprisingly do not miss the constant commercial interruptions that accompany films shown on other networks – and cannot wait to learn more about TCM’s involvement in this project.

Houdini produced this film in 1919 and stars as Harvey Hanford (see how the character’s initials are HH just like Houdini’s — we don’t think that is a coincidence), a young man framed for murder.  Houdini was apparently not afraid of being type-cast as an athletic escape artist as the movie shows him escaping, leaping, fighting and other daring do.  TCM relates that the film captures a mid-air collision between two airplanes that was a real accident caught on film.  The filmmakers used the amazing footage in the story.  We read somewhere that Houdini claimed to have been on one of the two planes even though he was safely on the ground at the time of the incident.

Surprisingly, there was only one surviving complete copy of the film, owned by Larry Weeks, a 95-year-old retired juggler.  Mr. Weeks got the film from the Houdini estate in 1947 and was never willing to sell it.

“Harry Houdini is an compelling cultural icon, but most people don’t know about his movie career,” said Charles Tabesh, SVP Programming at TCM.  “He made several films, but The Grim Game was his first feature, considered his best.  It’s fascinating to see Houdini as an actor.  It’s really fun to watch [the film] that even the most hardcore fans haven’t had a chance to see.”

TCM will screen the film in Hollywood and has booked composer Brane Zivkovic to conduct a live performance of his new score written just for the movie.  TCM will air the restored classic on its channel later this year.

Hollywood Press Ga-Ga Over the Illusionists

The IllusionistsOut here in the greater Hollywood environs, just about everyone gets The Wrap delivered throughout the day to their email address.

It is one of the industry news sources, along with The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, relied upon by those in power and those hoping to one day attain power.

The Wrap emails come as entertainment news breaks: a dependable Hollywood star loses funding on his next big movie, a venerable talent agency picks up a new five-star client, a disgruntled writer sues a studio for allegedly ripping off a script idea.  If Congress decided to declare war on Canada, it would not likely be in The Wrap, Hollywood Reporter or Variety unless it affected production on some film project in Toronto.

The big three also publish reviews of plays, movies, live shows and artistic endeavors.  The Hollywood reviewers are usually very knowledgeable and pragmatic in their evaluation of the shows.  They can also be brutal.

We were relieved, then, to read the glowing reviews of The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible in The Wrap.

The producers of that ill-fated “Houdini” musical starring Hugh Jackman can let out a collective sigh of relief that their star decided not to do the show. “The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible” opened Thursday at the Marquis Theatre and there’s no way a tuner based on the life of the world’s most famous illusionist could possibly be any more fun and awe-inspiring than this new magic show on Broadway.

The review describes the performers in glowing terms and with the enthusiasm normally found in a devotee rather than a jaded critic.

“Anyone who’s ever seen newsreels of Houdini performing this feat, or others like it, has wanted to go back in time to experience first-hand the cheesy excitement of seeing a brilliant stunt performer at work risking his life. Here’s your chance.”

The reviewer describes Inside Magic Favorite Dan Sperry’s performance as the most frightening.

The scariest moment in the show, however, involved a woman from out of town who really, really didn’t want to play a game of Russian roulette with the very Goth and genuinely weird Dan Sperry (The Anti-Conjuror). By the way, what is an anti-conjuror? Whatever, in addition to creeping people out, Sperry conjures up a whole menagerie of flying birds from his Count Dracula get-up. Truly amazing.

The Illusionists: Witness the Impossible runs through January 4 on Broadway before embarking on a multi-city tour of the United States.

Read The Wrap’s review here.

Criss Angel Does It: Houdini-Inspired Escape a Success

Criss Angel FoxwoodsThe headlines coming across our teletype here at the Inside Magic News Room confirmed that Criss Angel succeeded in his “Houdini Death escape” at the lovely Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Anxious editors stood hunched over the clicking wire machines as they typed out the news that Las Vegas magician and television star Criss Angel entertained “a crowd of hundreds of fans from a 75-foot crane, while restrained in a regulation straitjacket with a 50 lb. weight hanging from of his neck by a noose.”

One of the grizzled old copy editors dropped his filterless cig into his coffee mug. “Well, I’ll be . . .” he said to no one as he reviewed the news feed.

Yessir, It was quite a day around the horseshoe-shaped city desk here at Inside Magic.

According to local news reports, Mr. Angel was “suspended upside down by his feet, arms constricted in a straitjacket, dangling from a 75-foot-high crane, with a 50-pound weight hanging from a noose around his neck, Angel wiggled and swung his way to freedom, seeming to rock to the beat of loud electro-rock music.”

The performer dedicated his performance to America’s veterans in keeping with the spirit of the day.

How did the 46 year-old feel?

“My legs are just spent,” he said. “I spent a lot more time up there than I would have liked to.”

Mr. Angel told reporters he succeed only half the time in rehearsals.

One school child told the local paper, “It seems almost impossible to get out of that, so it must be magic. I thought it was scary, cause he could fall and hurt himself really badly.”

Mr. Angel is performing his new touring show, Mindfreak Live at Foxwoods Thursday through Saturday.