The Master Mystery (1920) starring Harry Houdini
The Master Mystery stars Harry Houdini as Justice Department agent Quentin Locke, who is investigating a powerful cartel that’s protected by a “menacing” robot (referred to in the film as “the Automaton‘); the cartel is using a gas weapon called “the Madagascar Madness” — and, given that this is an old-time silent film serial, there’s a cliffhanger ending at the end of each chapter. And, since this is a Houdini film, there’s plenty of escape artistry to get out of them. The Master Mystery is available on DVD as part of the DVD collection, Houdini: The Movie Star.
The Master Mystery Chapter Titles:
- Living Death
- The Iron Terror
- The Water Peril
- The Test
- The Chemist’s Shop
- The Mad Genius
- Barbed Wire
- The Challenge
- The Madagascan Madness
- The Binding Ring
- The Net
- The Death Noose
- The Flash of Death
- The Tangled Web
- Bound at Last or The Unmasking of the Automaton
Trivia for The Master Mystery
- Probably the first on-screen portrayal of a robot.
- A novelization of the serial was written by John W. Grey and then-popular mystery writer Arthur B. Reeve, who also co-wrote the script. Published in 1919, it contained many stills from the film.
- 13 of the original 15 episodes of this serial survive in the UCLA Film and Television Archives, the two missing episodes are chapters 4 and 10. Their whereabouts are unknown at this time and are presumed lost.
- The Kino Video version contains chapters 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14 and 15 in complete form and fragments from chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, 10 and 11.