We wrote last week of Turner Classic Movies’ plans to present Houdini’s film The Grim Game. It was a major find and we knew there had to be more to the story. Fortunately, Inside Magic Favorite magicians Dorothy Dietrich and Dick Brookz, from the Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania, wrote to fill us in. By the way, we heard that Ms. Dietrich was just elected President of Assembly 160 of the Society of American Magicians for Scranton. Congratulations to an outstanding performer and great person.
Houdini made the film in 1919 but it was considered lost until recently. Mr. Brookz writes that 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 anything 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.”
Mr. Brookz said the juggler had a different perspective on his keeping the film out of circulation. “Over the years Larry invited us to see the film on two occasions. He found it odd and incomprehensible when I told him that some magicians berated him for hoarding the movie that he preserved over the years at great personal cost.”
Ms. Dietrich and Mr. Brookz brought in their well-connect friend, Rick Schmidlin, to work as a go-between with Mr. Weeks and TCM. Mr. Weeks passed away on October 13, 2014.
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.
“We are so proud to have accomplished this,” said Ms. Dietrich. “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.”
We owe Ms. Dietrich and Mr. Brookz for their work in bringing this classic back. If you have not visited The Houdini Museum, you need to make plans to do so immediately. It is a wonderful experience, expertly presented by Ms. Dietrich and Mr. Brookz. Visit their incredible site here: houdini.org