Friday, August 12, 2016

Houdini - Movie Marketing - Part 2

Newspapers and magazines were the primary means of getting the word out about Houdini's films. However, I did come across a couple of interesting promotional items.

The Feb. 22, 1919 issue of Motion Pictures News reproduced the "cut-out" shown below for The Master Mystery. Perhaps this was a large display used at theaters, or maybe a small, die-cut piece that was handed out.

Motion Picture News also mentioned a clever novelty manufactured to garner attention for The Master Mystery. It was a 4 or 5 inch sheet of paper only showing the question, "Can you solve this mystery?" printed on the top of the sheet and a footnote printed on the bottom instructing the processor to hold the sheet over heat for a short while. After a short while the heat caused a scene from the movie to appear on its surface. The viewer could see Houdini caught in the coils of the villains of the movie with the following words: "How does he escape? See Houdini in B.A. Rolfe's super-serial, The Master Mystery." Collectors can only dream if one of these rare pieces of Houdini ephemera still exists. I put together an example of what this might have looked like.

Of course all the show magazines of the day carried full-page ads promoting Houdini's latest films. Below are just a few of these well-designed and eye-catching advertisements.

Until next time...


  1. Very nice! There are definitely some great Movie Marketing ads in Motion Picture News. A Master Mystery Hold-to-Light Mystery sheet does exist. One (Lot 131) sold at Potter & Potter Houdiniana Auction on April 9th 2016 Auction for $325.
    Joe M. Notaro

  2. Thanks, Joe. I'm glad to hear one of those hold-to-light sheets still exists!

  3. Love these! Thanks for sharing.