The Most Dangerous Game is a 1932 Pre-Code adaptation of the 1924 short story of the same name by Richard Connell, the first film version of that story. It stars Joel McCrea, Leslie Banks, and King Kong leads Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong, and was made by a team including Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper, the co-directors of King Kong (1933). Because it was so inexpensive to make, costing only $200,000, The Most Dangerous Game made more profit for RKO than the very expensive King Kong did.
Famous big game hunter and author Bob Rainsford (McCrea) is the sole survivor of a shipwreck. He swims to a small, lush island. He becomes the guest of the expatriate Russian Count Zaroff (Banks), a fellow hunting enthusiast. Zaroff remarks that Bob’s misfortune is not uncommon; in fact, four people from the previous sinking are still staying with him: Eve Trowbridge (Wray), her brother Martin (Armstrong), and two sailors.
That night, Zaroff introduces Bob to the Trowbridges and reveals his obsession with hunting. During one of his hunts, a Cape buffalo inflicted a head wound on him. He eventually became bored of the sport, to his great consternation, until he discovered “the most dangerous game” on his island. Bob asks if he means tigers, but Zaroff denies it. Later, Eve shares her suspicions of Zaroff’s intentions with the newcomer. The count took each sailor to see his trophy room, on different days, and both have mysteriously disappeared. She believes their host is responsible…
“The Most Dangerous Game is part adventure film, part horror (portions of the “trophy room” scene were cut when preview audiences started leaving the theater in horror/disgust). The principals make an engaging group, and the overall flick is like And Then There Were None without the mystery. If King Kong is the more ambitious and better known of these pieces of Siamese celluloid, Dangerous Game at least needs to be acknowledged in its own right as a classic example of early adventure, Hollywood style.” Classic Movies Digest review
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