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"The Most Dangerous Game" (1932)


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I presume this RKO Radio film, must belong to TCM's Library. I do not know if it has been aired, but it should be, it's quite magnificent in its own way. I bought Criterion's DVD edition sometime ago and I watched it again yesterday, especially because of the Joel McCrea chatting that has been going on in Frances Dee's Thread.

 

BTW, now there's another very cheap edition of the film (7 bucks I believe) from Gotham-Alpha, which is said to be excellent too.

 

I've just wrote this review on another website:

 

Very amusing horror-adventure film

 

?The Most Dangerous Game? (1932) aka (in Britain) as ?The Hounds of Zaroff? was filmed simultaneously-and using some of the same sets and actors (Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong and Noble Johnson)-with ?King Kong? (1933), although the latter?s shooting took much longer, being a grade ?A? Super production with a huge budget and awesome special effects (for its time).

 

At only 62 or 63 minutes of complete running-time, the film is obviously fastly paced & non-stop entertainment. It tells the story of the sole survivor from a shipwreck, hunting-expert Bob Rainsford (Joel McCrea), who manages to arrive to a nearby mysterious island, which is only inhabited by Russian Nobleman, Count Zaroff (expertly played by british actor Leslie Banks in his talkie-film d?but) and his exotic servants, among them a very scary Noble Johnson, impersonating a Cossack. The Count lives in an intimidating fortress, built centuries ago by Portuguese navigators, where he meets the Trowbridge brothers (Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong), survivors from yet another shipwreck.

 

Leslie Banks gives the most notorious performance of the movie and is most effective as the villain of the story; Fay Wray confirms why she was the beautiful ?queen of the screaming victims? during the early 1930s (other films include ?Dr. X?, ?The Mystery of the Wax Museum? and the aforementioned ?King Kong?); Joel McCrea is great (& youthful) as the the good-natured hero and Robert Armstrong (wearing a moustache) is quite annoying as Wray?s drunken brother.

 

The film was released during the Pre-Code era, so there are aspects not to be found on horror or adventure films produced during the enforcement of the Production Code, especially related to Zaroff?s somewhat indirect allusions to the effects of hunting in a man?s sexual libido. I won?t tell anymore about the story or these aspects in order not to spoil the surprises.

 

The film has a very good score by Max Steiner, which wasn?t usual (film scores) in those days.

 

The Criterion Edition?s transfer is excellent, beautiful, sharp and crisp, and the featured commentary is highly informative.

 

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Just watched this one myself, a couple of weeks ago, because I'd gotten from Netflix. I think you may have recommended it previously, and that's why I had rented it.

 

Excellent summary, making all the same points I would including Steiner's score, the shortness of the film, and the King Kong sets (which "jumped out" at me, causing me to look up on the internet if they were indeed the same) & cast.

 

Also, I thought the villain was a bit too over the top. And, I think I'd seen this story done previously as an episode on TV's Fantasy Island (and/or Gilligan's Isle;- )

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If you're buying this, I'd spend the extra bucks for the Criterion edition. The cheapo DVD is of poor print quality whereas the Criterion is up to their usual high standards. (I don't work for them!)

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I have the Alpha Video DVD of this movie, and the print is EXCELLENT. The detail and depth of field are amazing. I don't see how you could get any better, and this DVD lists for only $6.95 -- a steal!

 

Compare this to the Criterion DVD, which lists for $24.95, where the only extra on the disc is Bruce Eder's audio commentary. If you can live without that, and the print quality is all that matters to you, the Alpha DVD is definitely the way to go.

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