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novel variation on "Most Dangerous Game" from wr-dir Wyott Ordung
django-12 February 2003
Best known for some classic "B" science fiction films of the 1950s such as MONSTER FROM THE OCEAN FLOOR, writer/producer/director Wyott Ordung attempted to work in the LA film noir/psychological drama vein with this 1956 rarity, taking the classic "Most Dangerous Game" scenario as a starting point, but reinventing it in a very novel way. I don't want to give too much plot away as the film unrolls in a surprising way. Chuck Connors, although best known for his Western roles and his fatherly manner on The Rifleman, plays over-the-top psycho roles well (see DEATH IN SMALL DOSES for proof!), and does so here, pitted against Korean War vet Don Ross (billed as "introducing"). It's an interesting psychological game of wits. Although many of the expository scenes are shot on a few small sets, much of the action takes place on the streets of 1950s Los Angeles, fascinating to look at and giving the film a wonderfully gritty and authentic feel. The film also has the ironic development of a Twilight Zone or Thriller episode, but further developed to feature length. This seems to be a unique entry in Mr. Ordung's filmography, and it shows that he can work well within the low-budget crime drama field with minimal resources because he can as a writer and director create tense situations and he had the good sense to hire actors such as Chuck Connors. Don Ross is fine too, although he is the down-to-earth one here and other than being tough and ingenious is not given the opportunities for histrionics that the script gives to Connors. Perhaps because Ordung is a "cult" name in Science Fiction circles, someone will do a video/dvd release of this little-known gem--I certainly hope so. It is due for re-evaluation. (It has a vague resemblance to CONFESSIONS OF A PSYCHO CAT, made ten years later...although that is probably coincidental. PSYCHO CAT was the first film I thought of while watching this)
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Sporting Stalk.
rmax30482321 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Chuck Connors is a strange actor -- tall, sinewy, rangy, and not only giving the appearance of athleticism but displaying a history of it. His features seems almost unreal. He's a little like Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator with the flesh still on him. But that appearance limited the kinds of roles he could play. In the right part, and with competent direction, he could deliver the goods, as he did with his hoarse-voiced mob muscle in "Designing Woman." He's okay here, too, because the part isn't really very demanding. He's the brother of a young man who was killed in Korea. The younger brother blamed his Lieutenant (Ross). And Connors is determined to take revenge for his brother's death. Not that Connors shows much in the way of mourning. (If you can, you should avoid asking Connors to project an emotion as complex as "grief".) But Connors dominated the younger guy and hates Ross for having taken him away from his umbra.

After the Korean War is over, Ross happens to drop in on Connors. Not to apologize or anything like that. He has no idea that Connors holds him responsible. Connors is simmering with hatred and manages to suggest this by scowling, squinting, and grinding his teeth whenever he looks at the amiable Ross. Ross is blandly handsome and doesn't project much one way or the other.

Of course it's wildly improbably that Ross would just happen to look up Connors and drop in unannounced. Why should he? But it's even less probable that the two men should discover that they are both hunters, Connors more avid than Ross.

Over drinks, still glowing with rage, Connors suggests a game. Connors and Ross will hunt each other with camera guns in a delimited area of Los Angeles. Connors gives odds of ten to one and Ross needs the money so he agrees. What Ross doesn't know but the astute viewer does is that Connors gives him an ordinary looking rifle loaded with film while Connors will carry a real hunting rifle loaded with a real bullet. The two contestants, one in the know and one not, will stalk each other anywhere on the LA streets or in the stores or cafés. True, Connors may be arrested for murder but he doesn't care. The docs have told him he has a "bum ticker" and doesn't have long to go anyway.

There are two other characters. Regina Gleason, in still another improbability, is the ex girl friend of Connors' dead brother and she has been tracking Ross too. If it can be said that Connors and Ross both underact for whatever reason. The same can't be said of Gleason. Of Gleason it can be said that she overacts. When she plans to humiliate the trusting Ross, it might as well be Delilah planning to turn Samson into a skinhead.

It all sounds kind of exciting. "The Most Dangerous Game" in Echo Park. Actually it's rather dull because of the shamelessly inept performances and the lackluster direction. Well, I'll give an example or two.

During the hunt, both men independently spot a vacant tourist ship, the Avalon, tied up at a dock. And both board her, each unaware of the other's presence. Yet both stalk carefully through the passageways and over the boat deck, carefully peering around corners, warily opening doorways. They walk openly around the streets but act as if they know their quarry is aboard the Avalon.

And the pacing is glacial. The pauses between utterances are long. Dynasties rise and fall. Epochs come and go while one waits for a reply from the person he's speaking to.

(After a long silence.) Gleason: "I'm over twenty-one." (Long silence.) Connors: "I'd never have guessed it." (Long long pause.) Gleason: "You should have been a diplomat." (Pause that lasts so long you'll think you're stoned again.) "How do you know I'm not?" I can't really go on with this. It's an unpretentious and inexpensive movie with no principal actors. To ask anything of it is like breaking an iridescent butterfly on the rack.

This is a movie for when you have absolutely nothing else to do except maybe write a Master's thesis on the history of B features in 1956.
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The Most Dangerius Game rides again!
JohnHowardReid7 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
TV actor Don Ross and TV actress Regina Gleason have rare starring roles in a real movie here. True, Miss Gleason's role is comparatively small, but it has impact. Ross, however, is hero-of-the-day as he most effectively plays unwitting clay pigeon for maniacal Chuck Connors in this somewhat slow-paced but picks-up-at-the-climax, low budget noir thriller, obviously inspired by The Most Dangerous Game and variants such as Run for the Sun (1956) which it managed to beat into release by a month or two. Director/writer/producer Wyott Ordung could have employed sharper direction and editing to disguise the fact that his hero is somewhat impulsive or even feeble-brained. Perhaps an explanation of battle fatigue would have helped. Nevertheless, effective use is made of Los Angeles locations at the suspenseful climax. Available on a very good Alpha DVD.
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Complete and utter crap.
MartinHafer22 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Wow, did I hate this film. If it wasn't for the fact that the technical aspects of the film were okay, I would have given this film a score of 1. Why? Because the plot really makes very little sense and because apart from the main plot, the writing really was awful. Seldom have I seen a film which appears so poorly written.

As another reviewer stated, this film is a variation on the old story "The Most Dangerous Game". Now this story was brilliant and some of the films (most notably the 1932 version) were wonderful. So, it isn't that part that bothers me--it's all the unnecessary back story as well as the nonsensical setting.

First, the unnecessary back story. The film begins in Korea during the war. A Lieutenant is having problems with his Sergeant--the Sergeant is very resentful he didn't get the commission and he broods about it. Little does the Lieutenant know that the Sarge wrote to his insane brother about all this--and rambled on and on about how the Lieutenant had it in for him. So, when the Sarge is killed, the brother is convinced the other guy is responsible.

Some time passes and the war is over for the Lieutenant. He goes to visit the Sergeant's brother to offer his condolences--unaware the brother is a nut-case. The brother is a big game hunter and suggests a game--that the two of them will hunt each other throughout the city--using their 'camera guns' (a gun with a camera built into it instead of ammo) to 'kill' each other. Naturally, the guns are NOT cameras and the brother plans on running around a big city with a giant hunting rifle and just shoot the other guy!! To top it off, the insane brother just happens to have a heart condition and MIGHT just die during the hunt. Not surprisingly, at the very end, that is exactly what happens.

Did the writer not understand what the word 'contrived' means?! After all, the plot takes all the best of "The Most Dangerous Game" and tosses it out--and inserts all sorts of unnecessary and ridiculous elements into it. The idea of a big game hunt in the city?! Insane! And, the way the brother's part was written?! Totally insane!! I really hated this film and hoped it would have style and intelligence. Alas, it had neither. I don't care if the film is free to download because it's in the public domain--it's not even worth your time to download!! Terrible.
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Walking around LA with a rifle over your shoulder, and nobody notices ?
GJValent4 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
As alluded to, this is an updated variation on Most Dangerous Game. Chuck Connors plays a sportsman/hunter/psycho who blames Don Ross for a friend's death, or something. (When I saw this on TV, the Rifleman had just premiered.) He challenges Don to a game, where they hunt each other using 'camera' guns. First one to photograph the other, wins. Apparently just using cameras wouldn't have been any fun. But, Chuck's 'camera' gun, is a REAL gun. How will he get away with killing Don ? Claim ignorance ? Anyway, they start out from separate locations carrying these standard appearing, cased, rifles over their shoulders. And, in mid-1950s Los Angelos, it's no big deal !?! Don does get picked up by the cops, but, once they see that it's not a 'real' gun, they let him go. Now the fun begins. It starts raining, so Chuck and Don both duck into the same store to pick up raincoats, without seeing each other, and naturally, the guns get switched. Chuck soon discovers this, and now, he's on the run. If you ever catch this, it's more than interesting, but, not much more. The mid 1950s LA locations are kind of cool. Even some scenes shot on the old Avalon excursion ship, that use to ferry tourists to and from Catalina Island. Now, for some perspective. I was in Telluride Colorado for the 1983 Jazz Festival. There was a young woman walking down the street with a basket of laundry and a pump action shotgun over one shoulder. Now, you know.
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An Imaginative Spin on "The Most Dangerous Game"
zardoz-139 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"Monster from the Ocean Floor" director Wyott Ordung spent his life in Hollywood working on one grade-Z movie after another. For example, he served as the assistant director on a couple of schlocky creature features such as "Navy Vs. the Night Monsters" (1966) and "The Mummy and the Curse of the Jackals" (1969). Ordung penned the screenplay for the so-bad-it's-good science fiction film "Robot Monster." He wrote the John Ireland backlot Korean War epic "Combat Squad" and the not-quite-as-bad aliens attack Earth flick "Target: Earth." Later, he wrote the Robert Day directed sci-fier "First Man into Space," a generally respectable effort.

Surprisingly enough, Ordung (talk about a self-prophesying surname) wrote and directed a real diamond-in-the-rough with his 1956 outing "Walk the Dark Street" that toplines Chuck Connors of TV's "The Rifleman" fame. The psychotic villain that Connors plays in this suspenseful film noir entry has little in common with Lucas McCain. Indeed, both guy carry rifles, but the comparison ends at each other's arsenal. Connors plays big-game safari hunter Frank Garrick. He is single with no family except the memory of his late brother. The provocative title "Walk the Dark Street" suggests that this trim low-budget thriller would take place under street lamps after midnight. Not only does the action transpire at night but also during the day. Essentially, the use of 'dark' in the title is more metaphorical than literal. Ordung has cleverly provided a fresh spin on the vintage Richard Connell short story "The Most Dangerous Game," which won O. Henry Memorial Prize when Colliers magazine published it back in 1924 and he has done an efficient job of staging it. Mind you, this minimalist survivalist thriller differs enough from the usual item to stand out on its own with more than a modicum of merit. Some of the things that Ordung tries to get away with probably wouldn't have flown back in the 1950s, but "Walk the Dark Street" doesn't seem too far-fetched by today's standards.

Revenge lies at the heart of "Walk the Dark Street." Frank Garrick dearly loved his good-for-nothing little brother, U.S. Army Sergeant Tommy Garrick (Eddie Kafafian of "Flesh and the Spur"), and he cherishes a hand-written letter that little brother sent him from Korea. Apparently, the military handed out a battlefield commission and chose another sergeant, Dan Lawton (veteran TV guest star actor Don Ross), over him. One day, Tommy goes berserk and disobeys Lawton's orders and is riddled by sniper fire. Before Tommy died, he wrote Frank about Lawton and assured him that if he died, Lawton would be the prime suspect. Of course, Lawton had no control over Tommy's demise. The insubordinate fool got himself killed with his impulsive behavior. After the war, Lawton comes home to find his sporting goods store in the doldrums because of his business partner's inability to manage it. Meantime, he pays Frank Garrick a visit and explains the circumstances surrounding Tony's unfortunate death. Garrick treats Lawton with courtesy, pours him a drink, and even shows him some 16mm film of a safari that he went on in Asia. Interestingly enough, the footage of a crocodile and later a python look better than anything from "Wild Kingdom." Frank explains that he suffers from a poor heart and his physician prohibits him from hunting. Nevertheless, Frank wants to go on a different hunt. He wants to hunt a man. Initially, Lawton is dubious about such an endeavor until Frank explains that he has perfected a cartridge that takes a picture of his target rather than blowing it to smithereens. Lawton would like to oblige him in the hunt, but he is wrestling with his business woes. Frank offers to pay Lawton the sum of $10-thousand dollars if he can out-hunt him. Lawton doesn't have that kind of cash and he is $5-thousand in the hole as it is with his business. Frank dismisses the inequality of the deal and convinces Lawton to compete with him. He prepares a map and confines the hunt to the concrete jungle of Los Angeles, California. Writer & director Ordung delivers modest gem with a couple of twists that make it a good movie to watch. The only other character of any substance is Helen Leyden (Regina Gleason of "Speed Crazy") who was Tommy's girlfriend that Frank hated. Mind you, "The Most Dangerous Game" has been remade many times, but "Walk the Dark Street" qualifies as one of the better variations.
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lovable movie
Cristi_Ciopron27 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Lovable thriller, with Ch. Connors in a leading role. A Nouvelle Vague movie made in '56, exquisite, suspenseful, intense, rewarding, exciting, stylish, about a manhunt, it reminded me rather of Clément than of a Georgian drama somewhat similarly themed, but pretentious, bombastic and a bit patronizing; Chuck Connors, already the rifleman, looked fierce and gave a strong performance, he resembled Lundgren a bit. As to its genre, I am one of those for whom the essence of the thriller is the action drama (meaning action and suspense), viz. a dramatic action movie; so, here you are. And this is a Nouvelle Vague thriller made in good faith; there is no Hollywood and no schmaltz in it, it can be enjoyed by those who dislike Hollywood movies, and it's endearing in its modest integrity; there are some other movies meant this way, but they are, on the contrary, camp, not the low camp of silliness, but the high camp of pretenses, and it's also plausible there are some movies as achieved as this one. Perhaps it was a meteoric achievement, or perhaps the director went on with other such outings. Either way, he knew cinema, and did his best. Such movies make the cinema worth-wile.

The cast is very small. As usually, there's no need of an imposing cast and budget, for very good storytelling; and annoying, unmeant silliness never comes from tiny budgets, but from untalented morons, art can be cheap, when there's craft. The main characters are a veteran of the Korean war and the brother of his sergeant, played by Chuck Connors. An exquisitely crafty drama, enthralling, deeply satisfying, it has a flawless taste but also a nice aesthetics of the feminine, with a couple of statuesque broads. So you can safely ignore mainstream tips, and discover movies perhaps not very hailed.
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