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This movie has it all: a riveting plot, an evil foreign count, a
dashing hero, and a really foxy damsel in distress -- and about all
other movie clichés you can imagine. The difference is, this is the
movie which created all those clichés. And unlike many action movies of
this era, which only seem quaint by today's standards, this one sucks
you right in. The acting is great and the sets are outstanding: I read
afterwards that this movie was filmed at night on the same sets that
were being used for King Kong (also starring Fay Wray -- she must have
been working double shifts) during the day.
This is truly a classic movie, and sadly a somewhat forgotten one. Enjoy. And remember: it's only make-believe!
By itself, the great hall with its swooping staircase is enough to
justify this rousing RKO actioner. Populate it with florid actor Leslie
Banks whose accordion-like eyes can't seem to settle down, a grotesque
Cossack assistant, and a collection of thuggish Asian types, and you've
got to pray for the luscious Fay Wray trapped in their clutches. She's
got handsome big game hunter Joel McCrea to protect her, and in his odd
way, the demented Banks talks like a sporting fellow, but can they
elude his hunting posse long enough to escape the island prison. It's a
rip-roaring chase through the forest primeval then being prepared for
the A-budget King Kong.
Shrewd move on the producers part to sneak this little 60 minute production around Kong's shooting schedule, using some of the same cast. None of the many remakes equals this one thanks to the great sets that are just bizarre enough to be unforgettable. And where did they get the wild-eyed Banks who approaches his role as if he's a mental patient declaiming Shakespeare. But then that's just the sort of out-sized personality the part calls for, having to compete with the cavernous stage sets. The Count's (Banks) problem is that he just can't seem to, uh, "perform" unless he's just bagged a human quarry and, I guess, proved himself. And, of course, the prize is Fay Wray in a clinging gown that appears to get shorter as the chase gets longer. No wonder the big gorilla risked a dive off the Empire State Building for her; McCrea's a lot luckier since his tumble is only from a forest waterfall. When guys "fall" for her, they really do. Anyhow, this little throw-away remains one of the luckier accidents of that depression-era decade and is easily the best of the many versions of the Connell novel.
"The most dangerous game" (1932) made by Pichel and Schoedsack as new
kind of humorous and evasive movie quite grotesque as entertainment,
concerning a story narrated on a mythic island near the Caribbean sea,
it attracts however the foreigner for a visit to a mansion castle lost
in the time. Where the time was like stopped in the past of a strange
small realm, with cruelty as delicacy for the meals also as pleasure of
a fake gentleman, that with his servants catch people as though doing a
hunt against another specie of savage animal. Searching for adventure,
a gentle pair of individuals is trapped in the selfish fantasy, but
there is something of unforeseen that helps surviving some to the
carnivore gambler. That is also an irony of destiny for each of them,
as visitors to this hell over the landscape of an island so beautiful
if not damned.
As it was an exiled exponent of terror in tropical jungle the rhythm is defiant like the perspective of the servant, that is lean because he is deficient and what is somehow new - inside the mansion bad illuminated by handle candles by someone at the place of the butler - it is here the construction of the fear. Not enough for scaring immediately, but slowly intoxicating the characters, as visitors of a strange isolated world of someone that is half concealed by the shadowy atmosphere there till the diner. Where the stairs and the rooms had begun for belonging to another mind, in which the absence is there like omniscient and quite unbreathable for the travelers, searching adventure and understanding why such a hospitality very intriguing, but at the same time attracting them for the unknown of mental disease.
Certainly as dishes for the Gothic monster and surely someone of careless from lost civilization, after Zaroff was chased from another land far away of this island and mystery, as count of a nowhere despair of escaping and now tormenting people as ghost of a past injustice. Fear is also like a chemical reaction from the body tired by such an exercise climbing in the darkness and entering in a lost world, since two centuries ago before electrification, that is present in his small universe of perversity against these young characters in excursion and whose bodies were the aim of his hunting for flesh and degraded pleasure for killing, as medieval sport for living with his wounded spirit making prisoners of the soul alone by abduction and servitude like in the past on the steppes.
I was pleasantly surprised to watch this quality effort in "The Most
Dangerous Game" that I'd never heard of, till today, shown on a
low-budget Australian TV channel named "TVS".
Most "B-grade" movies don't seem to have much plot or much evidence of thought going into their production! It seems the theory was to knock out movies quick & crude, however flawed. Out the 1930s movies I've seen, "The Most Dangerous Game" joins only Claude Rains' movie, "The Clairvoyant", & "Dr Syn" starring George Arliss, as well as light-hearted fun movies by Jessie Matthews, as truly quality contributions I have personally watched from that era!
It has to be taken into account that these movies were made so long before such action movies as "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" & the "007" movies! What's more, they were made on a shoestring budget!
When I saw the high rating of 7.5 out of 10 looking at your website & read some comments of others who were generally impressed by it, I could see I was not alone in admiring this quality effort!
I knew nothing about it having so many connections amidst it all to the acclaimed "King Kong"! "The Most Dangerous Game" is a worthy & gripping action thriller & only a couple of comments by viewers who seem to expect modern action scenes in a 1930s movie, appear to be disappointed by it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I first read Richard Connell's short story The Most Dangerous Game
quite some time ago when I was a child. It being one of the first
stories of stalking and murder I had read, it scared me to no end and
gave me nightmares (keep in mind that I was only 10 or 11 years old at
the time). But the story stuck with me over the years, and now, thirty
years later, I've come across two different film versions of it to
reawaken my childhood terror (the other was Ralph Brooke's Bloodlust!,
which was not a very good movie, but I digress).
This film version of the story has some changes that I don't remember in the written tale-such as the addition of a female companion for Bob Rainsford (Joel McCrea) in the character of Eve Trowbridge, played by the beautiful and delightful Fay Wray. I can never complain when a film decides to add Fay Wray to the line up. There are other differences between the film and the story (at least-the story as I remember it but it has been thirty years since I've read it), but the film seems to do quite well even with them.
This is a wonderful adventure thriller with horror elements that gave me a knot in my stomach while watching it. It has a suspense filled atmosphere with a fast enough pace and enough action that no one could be bored watching it. Originally filmed in black and white, and I think this is the best way to watch this particular movie, the DVD version I have (the 75th anniversary edition by Legend Films) also has a colorized version for those who want something a bit brighter.
The acting also adds to the charm of this film. Joel McCrea is excellent as the hero and big game hunter turned prey. He shows his character's hunting and survival skills, as well as his gallantry towards Fay Wray. And I can never say enough in praise of Fay Wray, whose presence on the screen is always a delight. And Leslie Banks is a charming but very menacing and cool villain in the role as Count Zaroff.
Altogether a great cast, great script, good sets and good timing make this a fast paced thriller.
Sure, The Most Dangerous Game comes with one helluva pedigree: from the
producers David O (Gone with the Wind and other things) Selznick, and
Merian C (King Kong) Cooper (also co-directed by the co-director of
Kong), and featuring famous scream-queen Fay Wray in one of the leading
roles, comes a story of terror and suspense. Unfortunately- and this
should go without saying having not read the original short story the
film is based off of- it's not as great as it's touted to be. Going in
to it I wondered if it might be as superlative as 'Kong' was, holding
up over time and being an entertaining and exciting adventure picture
with an original twist. In this case it's about a man who washes up
on-shore of a madman's island who sets his 'prey', humans, out into the
jungle and hunts them for sport, and how Joel McCrea's Bob is just the
right target as he's a famous hunter himself.
It should be hard not to see what is classic about the movie, however. There's some amazing cinematography and atmosphere on this island "no bigger than a deer park". There's some fabulous over-the-top acting from Count Zaroff, who has his door-knocker giving a wink-wink at what's really going on and, if that doesn't catch on, his trophy room (or, for that matter, his damn crazy face, with bug-eyes and a bastardly chin- beard, Banks attempting to top Lugosi's Dracula performance). And there's even some decent action and chasing in the jungle... that is until it sets in how a lot of this- i.e. a lot of the acting and how the plot moves forward with the characters- is silly and kind of stupid. It makes little sense that Fay Wray's character would go along with McCrea, or that he would let her, since a) she'd slow him down, and b) keep on chit-chatting about this and that.
To be sure there are reasons for her to be there, not least of which that she's Fay Wray and that she's a honey and something to look at during those, you know, "action" moments. But the lack of logic is frustrating, when it should be so much more intelligent with just the two men mano-a-mano. It also has an unsatisfying ending, not because of what happens per-say but because of the lack of denouement. And yet, despite (or because) of its flaws, I can still see why it's so highly regarded today. Many films wouldn't have the sort of blueprint Cooper and company created, about someone hunting someone else for sport or game (indeed Predator, Hard Target, and Predators from just this year owe a great debt to the film - and, actually, are better at doing what this film tries to set out to do at the least). Its influence is noted, and it is entertaining when it wants to be, despite (or because) of its hammy acting and the deliberate choices in its mood and tempo. But the results are frustratingly uneven for a modern audience.
Most Dangerous Game, The (1932)
**** (out of 4)
A famous hunter (Joel McCrea) survives a boat crash and ends up on what appears to be a deserted island. Soon the man finds a house with shelter where he meets the strange owner (Leslie Banks) as well as a sister and brother (Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong). Soon all three guests are going to wish they were somewhere else because the owner, who considers himself a hunter, wants to stalk the most dangerous game, which to him is humans. It's well known that a lot of the people here were also working on KING KONG, which is a film everyone knows and loves but for my money this one here is the better of the two films and this here might stand as the greatest "B" movie ever made. This sadistic and suspenseful film just keeps getting better and better with each new viewing and a lot of this is due to the wonderful cast with the standout being Banks who really turns his character into one of the greatest villains in film history. The story is very simple yet so brilliantly told that one can't help but feel the creepiness of the characters, the island and the actual game being played. This story has been told dozens of times in film and television but nothing has ever come close to capturing the power that is this film. McCrae makes for a great hero and Wray is her typical charming self. I think the one weak link here is Armstrong who is a bit too far over the top. The film runs an incredibly short 62-minutes but there isn't a single second that doesn't capture the viewers attention and that includes the early stuff on the boat before it sinks. The final hunt is incredibly tense and rich with wonderful atmosphere. The final shot of the film is incredibly well done and one that you won't forget. A true masterpiece of the genre and one of the best of the decade.
An early horror/action movie. It may be over 70 years old, but there's not a better sinister, suspenseful, action movie better made and more enjoyed than this one, and all said and done in 63 minutes. If you can find this movie to rent grab your kid, pop some corn, turn lights out in the TV/Video room and hold on for the ride. Better yet buy the DVD, I'm going to.
Big game hunter Robert Rainsford (Joel McCrea) is shipwrecked on a
remote island. He finds Count Zaroff (Leslie Banks) lives there in a
castle and finds two other shipwreck survivors--Martin Trowbridge
(Robert Armstrong) and his sister Eve (Fay Wray). He soon realizes that
Zaroff is also a big game hunter--and completely mad. Soon him and Eve
are running for their lives around the island with Zaroff in pursuit.
Like seemingly everybody else I also read the short story this was based on in high school. I loved it and love the movie too--although in the story it's just Rainsford alone being hunted, there's no Eve. This movie is visually beautiful (love the castle) and moves like lightning. Some of the people involved with this one helped make "King Kong" which came out a year later. The jungle and swamp used here are the exact same ones "Kong" used. The hunting sequence in this film is easily one of the most exciting sequences ever put on film.
The acting varies--Armstrong plays the role of a comedic drunk--naturally he's not even remotely funny; Wray and McCrea are both very attractive but pretty bland in the leads--but Wray does let loose a few of her infamous screams. Banks however is just great. He overplays Zaroff to the point where it's just amusing to watch his facial expressions. His overdone performance keeps the movie going and prevents you from taking it seriously.
A fast, quick-paced adventure film.
This film has tested the sands of time and even more, it inspired Michael
Landon to do his excellent variation for the Bonanza TV series made in 1972,
and later aired on January 16, 1973, entitled "The Hunter", starring Michael
Landon and Tom Skerritt. Neat, errie, and with little dialogue. The best and
only remake of The Most Dangerous Game ever feated, and with total and sheer
genius, as the original 1932 feature film. The differences are The Hunter is
in living color and is remade 40 years later in 1972. I would say the 1932
to 1972 gap of 40 years is purely coincidence. The carry-over to TV is
motion-picture quality in Panavision at Arizona, which provides a beautiful
and equally haunting landscape. Landon as the prey and Skerritt as "the
hunter" is enough to make anyone's hair stand up and become entangled in the
46 min presentation. It's more nightmarish and so realistic, and given the
short runningtime of 46 minutes, a masterpiece. Originally recreated by
Landon himself. I would imagine he was highly impressed when he saw this
1932 film on TV in the 1960's.
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