A Game of Death (1945)

A Game of Death (1945), directed by Robert Wise.

In this remake of The Most Dangerous Game (1932), a ship is lured onto the rocks, wrecked, and the passengers and crew devoured by sharks. The only survivor is a world-famous hunter and author who finds himself on an island ruled by a German-accented psycho who also fancies himself a great hunter.

Our hero quickly divines his host's interests. Can he survive the sport and rescue the brother-sister pair who are also prisoners?

The film is only 72m long and the real action doesn't begin until the final 25 minutes, but then it is pretty exciting with running, setting and avoiding traps, escaping from the dogs, etc.

Joel McCrea was was 27 in the original film, where John Loder is 47 in the remake. The character is still a man of action, but more experienced and thoughtful than his younger self.

I don't recall Audrey Long from anything else, but she looks something like Fay Wray from the first film, vulnerable in her nightgown. I expected the sexual menaces to be toned down in the Code era, but our villain comes out and says it: "first the hunt, then the kill, then the woman. That is true ecstasy".

Noble Johnson is in both films. Since some of his footage from the first film is reused here, so he actually appears three times.

Photographed by J. Roy Hunt and the excellent visual design looks much like his dark and dangerous tropical island of I Walked with a Zombie (1943). It is understandable that this early Robert Wise film from RKO has a distinct Val Lewton ambiance.

Paul Sawtell gets credit for the score, but a lot of RKO library cues are used.

Available on Blu-ray from Kino. Image quality is just fair. The commentary track by Richard Harlan Smith is rich with production detail. He points out some good aspects of this version: