Forgotten Films

The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

An adaptation of a 1924 short story by Richard Connell, The Most Dangerous Game's claim to fame is that it was filmed on the same jungle sets of the somewhat more famous movie King Kong (1932) and shares many of the same cast members, most obviously Fay Wray who once again plays the wench in distress. Big game hunter Bob (Joel McCrea) washes ashore on a mysterious island and ironically becomes the prey of a Russian noble, General Zaroff (Leslie Banks). Although the opening half in the castle is stagey despite Banks's mesmerizing performance (surely the ancestor of all James Bond and Doctor Who villains), it's the second half when the hunt is on that makes this film a forgotten classic.

As Bob and Eve disappear into the jungle, the pace increases and but for odd moments when the 'game' stops to build traps, it becomes a largely silent affair, an incredible mood created simply through the lighting effects of cinematographer Henry W. Gerrard, silhouettes lost in bush and fog -- it looks like a Murneau film. It's in these sections that McCrea is at his most heroic and actually, Wray is a far more beguiling here than Kong simply because she doesn't have to scream quite so much. You will shudder when Zaroff releases his hounds or has Bob in his sights. Pure hokum, but really, really fun and available on dvd.

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