Most Dangerous Game, The (1932)

The Most Dangerous Game (1932), directed by Irving Pichel and Ernest B. Schoedsack.

A big game hunter (young Joel McCrea), shipwrecked on a fortress island, finds himself the hunted when a mad Russian aristocrat explains his own sporting innovations.

This was made by the same crew as for King Kong (1933) and uses the same jungle sets. They fit it in when Fay Wray had down time from the other picture, the same way she was able to work on Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933). She was a horror-thriller specialist during this period and has 11 film credits for 1933 alone. Her clothes are always getting ripped up or off.

The plot has been used many times since. This version was supposed to be more ambitious but after losing half the budget they chopped out everything inessential, resulting in a quick 63 minute cut. Which is all to the good; you don't need to drag this out.

They did have more footage of Count Zaroff's trophy cellar, but the exhibits were too much for preview audiences who were leaving the theater, so that was also cut.

The other pre-Code excess was not skin this time, but rather blunt sexual menace. Zaroff announces he becomes romantic after killing a man and will turn his attention to Eve after dispatching Bob. So our hero must not only save his own life, but keep Eve safe from rape and probably gruesome murder. Eighteen months later and that plot would not have been allowed.

Once the hunt starts it is awfully exciting, and the King Kong (1933) locations are easy to spot.

Does Leslie Banks' accent seems a bit much? They had two Russian-speaking language coaches on hand.

Max Steiner score.

Available on DVD from Criterion. The film is in the public doman and this version is just fair. It has a good commentary track giving both production details and an insightful analysis of the psychological deviance on display.

Flicker Alley has it on Blu-ray but I haven't seen that.