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The Grim Game

movie review of The Grim Game (1919) starring Harry Houdini

The Grim Game was a silent film starring the great magician and escape artist Harry Houdini as Harvey Hanford, a man wrongly convicted of crimes that he didn’t commit.  Using Houdini’s renowned escape abilities, Houdini quickly escapes out of the jail that he’s being held in, and pursues the true criminal, who has kidnapped his love interest.

The movie is a series of classic Houdini escapes, but it’s best remembered for one classic scene: Houdini, jumping from the wing of one biplane to another, resulting in the only midair collision, nose dive, plane crash and escape ever filmed.  Although Houdini used the publicity from the accident to promote the film, the actual scene involved stuntmen, and not Houdini himself.  Another unfortunate point is that the actual movie is lost; only fragments remain, including the famous plane scene show below, courtesy of YouTube.  The surviving five minutes of footage, along with Houdini’s other movies, is available on Houdini the Movie Star, a DVD collection of Harry Houdini’s film work.

Trivia for The Grim Game

  • The person jumping from one plane to the other is not Harry Houdini.  It was a stuntman named Robert Kennedy (other sources say it was actor/stuntman Monte Blue). When news of the mid-air collision of the planes made headlines, Houdini cheerfully offered a reward to anyone who could prove that it was not him doing the stunts. Of course, he failed to mention that it really wasn’t him performing the feat.