In the past year, legendary magician Harry Houdini has had quite the renaissance. He received his own miniseries on the History Channel (where Adrien Brody played him) and his own French cartoon series. The Houdini comeback continues this March, when TCM will premiere a restored print of one of Houdini’s silent films at their Classic Film Festival.
The film, entitled The Grim Game,features Houdini’s escape skills as well as an actual plane crash that accidentally happened during in production (that’s what I’m most curious to see... how often does that happen in a film?). The Grim Game is a particularly rare film of Houdini’s, and has not been released for years -- until now. This was mainly due to the fact that Larry Weeks, a retired juggler, purchased the film in 1947 and refused to let others touch it. Weeks was finally convinced to part with the film and will soon be juggling some hefty stacks of cash.
In addition to its red carpet premiere, The Grim Game will air on TCM later this year. It is set to undergo a full restoration and will even receive a new score.
The release of The Grim Game once again begs the question: why the sudden interest in Houdini? I last speculated that it may be due to the fact that our culture has become so over-ridden with technology that we have forgotten what it’s like to believe in magic. I still think that this could be part of it, but I also think that our society may have a new interest in magicians. “SNL” recently featured a skit making fun of magicians (or, rather, audience members at magic shows); in 2012, a documentary following the lives of children at Magic Camp was released (the film, entitled Magic Camp, is quite charming and is on Netflix); one of the hottest new book series, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, follows, well, a group of magicians; not to mention Neil Patrick Harris's appearance on "American Horror Story: Freak Show" as an unhinged magician/ventriloquist. It seems time to say goodbye to the vampires and hello to the magicians!