The Grim Game (1919)

The second of master escape artist and magician Harry Houdini’s five silent films, and the first of two made for Paramount, has long been unavailable to the public as Paramount only had one five-minute sequence featuring a mid-air plane collision. Thanks to a print held by longtime Houdini fan Larry Weeks, however, Festival audiences can catch the world premiere restoration of the complete film. Originally titled Circumstantial Evidence, THE GRIM GAME casts Houdini as a newspaper reporter who fakes his uncle’s murder so he can be convicted of it, only to have villains kill the man and kidnap the reporter’s news hen fiancée. Of course, it’s all a pretext for a series of daredevil escapes, from Houdini’s breaking out of prison to his getting out of a straitjacket suspended from the top of a skyscraper. The plane crash was an accident during filming that the producers decided to incorporate within the plot. Fortunately, both flyers were able to get their planes under control and land safely. At the picture’s premiere, Houdini offered a $1,000 reward to anybody who could prove the collision had been faked. He also claimed to have been flying one of the planes, something studio records disprove. In fact, all of the shots of him mid-air are clearly studio shots cut into the real aerial footage. This screening will feature a World Premiere original score composed and conducted by Brane Živkovic.

(d. Irvin Willat, 71 m)

World premiere restoration presented by Turner Classic Movies

Aimee Kreston

Simone Vitrucci

Clarinet/Bass Clarinet
Joshua Ranz

Susan Svrcek

Musical Contractor
J. Anthony McAlister, McAlister Arts LLC

The Members of the ensemble are represented by Professional
Musicians Local 47, AFM.

Blüthner piano furnished by Kasimoff-Blüthner Piano Co., Hollywood

In attendance: Brane Živković, Rick Schmidlin