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What if hunting for sport was taken to its extreme? What if the "civilized" hunt was turned into a lethal game?

That's the chilling premise of "The Most Dangerous Game," an adaptation of Richard Connell's story about a madman who hunts other men for sport on a remote island. It's a taut, tightly-written movie with some wonderfully shocking moments, and a sense of suspense that doesn't let up until the final seconds.

A ship is wrecked on a reef, and her crew and passengers eaten by sharks. Only big-game hunter Bob Rainsford (Joel McCrea) makes it to the shore of a jungle island, where he is welcomed into the palatial home of the bizarre Count Zaroff, who has several guests waiting for a boat back to civilization. Except according to another "guest" Eve (Fay Wray), his guests have a nasty habit of vanishing.

Bob and Eve find out why, when they break into Zaroff's trophy room... and find other humans on display as trophies. Now that they've found out his secret, Zaroff decides to have Bob as his next prey, with Eve accompanying him. If Bob can get away by sunset, they'll both go free. If not...

Surprisingly, "The Most Dangerous Game" was only made because of another movie -- the original "King Kong." The monkey movie shot during the day, and then the sets and actors were used on "Most Dangerous Game" during the night. It certainly accounts for the lush jungle sets and island setting.

That's where the resemblance ends. "Most Dangerous Game" is a more psychological, suspenseful movie, taking a look at what happens when "killer fun" is extended to human beings. It's a bit on the short side -- just over an hour -- but it's stripped of all extra scenes or dialogue. This is raw filmmaking.

While the first half is about the suspense, the second half is what pays off -- a desperate chase through overgrown jungles and misty swamps, trying to outrun Zaroff. It's all the more frightening because they're on a tiny island. The chase climaxes with a shocking fight on a clifftop with a savage hunting dog, but directors Irving Pichel and Ernest B. Schoedsack have a few tricks up their sleeves.

McCrea and Wray do very nice jobs as the clean-cut American stud, and the English rose who seems to be a lot smarter than he is (why is she the only one who notices that the whole setup is strange?). But Satanic-looking Leslie Banks is the scene stealer. The fact that he is barking mad is underscored by his reasonable, pleasant attitude -- Banks is nothing short of brilliant here.

This short, intense movie is a brilliant piece of work, and may be eve more relevant now than it was in 1932. Thrilling, dark and suspenseful.
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A ship full of mysterious characters is interring a harbor that is miss-charted. We are introduced to them and in two minutes and they are old friends.

A conversation is struck up on the subject of hunting. Bob Rainsford (Joel McCrea) is asked if hunting a tiger is really fare hunt with the hunter having superior file power and asked if he would change places with the tiger.

He philosophically replies, "That is something I will never have to decide... This world is divided into two kinds of people. The hunter and the hunted. I am a hunter and nothing can ever change that."

I will not give you a detailed review of the movie as that is why you will buy the movie to watch the story unfold. However after watching once be sure to listen to the Criterion version voice over and then watch the movie again.

You can tell right off that this is a David O. Selznick picture as he has his name plastered over the credits.

Screen play by James Ashmore Creelman. From a story by Richard Connell.

I found it interesting that many of the actors and the sets will show up in the 1933 version of King Kong.

I also pretty much guessed the story line ahead of time. Not because I saw it or read the book. But I saw most of the remakes and know the formula. Believe me this will not distract from this film.
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on 19 November 2013
I must admit,seeing this classic film when I was a mere 9 years old watching with my gran on a dark winters night in Scotland,Saturday night and well past my bedtime when BBC 2's "horror double bill"was in full flow, it was the film that was shown before the main feature, which was "Zoltan hounds of Dracula"under the original name "the hounds of zaroff,
A truly fantastic film with a brilliant if not unsettling storyline,
A man shipwrecked on an island,( who himself is a hunter!)
Then meeting the slick, cool but sinister Leslie banks,
Along with Joel mccrea and the one and only Fay wray, here we have 3 fantastic performances that will have you gripped to your set for the whole movie.
Banks a hunter himself ,goes about his business very well,already getting rid of a friend of wrays by sending him out drunk into the night, he is hunted down and then slain by banks,
He then sends mccrea and wray out together with the deal that if he catches them before sunrise he will kill them, if they survive he will set them free!!!!
I will save the best for when you buy the movie!
Remastered in superb colour, this enhances the picture and the sound is also fantastic,
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 January 2011
When the ship that big game hunter Bob Rainsford (Joel McCrea) is travelling on sinks, he manages to swim ashore an island (alternating use of the same set as the King Kong movie), where he eventually finds himself sampling the hospitality of the mysterious and sinister Count Zaroff, (Leslie Banks) in his imposing Castle-style home, he joins the already assembled guests which include Martin and Eve Trowbridge (Robert Armstrong and Fay Wray).

The conversation eventually turns to big game hunting, and then to big game hunting of the human kind, and following a tour of the Count's grisly "human Trophy" Room, Bob and Eve eventually find themselves fighting for survival in the jungle landscape on the island, while being pursued by the Count and his fierce Hounds.

Leslie Banks gives an excellent performance as the demented Count, with impressive performances from Joel McCrea and Fay Wray as the desperate pair, who have to use all their guile and survival skills to have any hope of survival.
Considering this is an Elstree Hill release, picture quality is quite good. No subtitles, the movie is 63 minutes approx.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 September 2011
The Most Dangerous Game (AKA: Hounds of Zaroff) is jointly directed by Irving Pichel and Ernest B. Schoedsack and adapted to screenplay by James Ashmore from the short story written by Richard Connell. It stars Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Leslie Banks and Robert Armstrong. Music is by Max Steiner and photography by Henry W. Gerrard.

Shipwrecked on a remote tropical island, big game hunter Robert Rainsford (McCrea) is taken to the castle home of Count Zaroff (Banks), an aristocrat who has become bored with tracking animals and now only finds his urges satiated by hunting `the most dangerous game'..........human beings.

Richard Connell's story has been adapted many times over the years, but no other has the historical significance that this RKO production does, and few would argue that this isn't actually the best version of them all. The Most Dangerous Game is famous for being the movie made at the same time as King Kong, where using the many of the same sets, staff and production crew, film was knocked out during the down time while Kong's effects work was being strung slowly together. The end result is a moody blend of adventure and horror that has been compacted into just over an hour of film.

It's very much a template of sorts in how to not over bloat your movie, makers here realise they have just enough material to cover an hour and the film is fresh, pacey and vibrant because of it. Sure it's very dated (a saying I don't like using as a rule), but there's very good film making craft here courtesy of Pichel and Schoedsack's camera work, Banks' wonderful twitchy, coiled spring like performance as Count Zaroff, and of course those special Kongy sets. There's genuine horror here as well, from the macabre presentations of Zaroff's trophy room, to the snarling hounds that accompany the unhinged Count on his hunt (close ups are very imposing), it's a film worthy of its classic chiller status. 8/10
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on 24 July 2012
I really enjoyed this film.It was brilliant seening skull island from the first ever king kong film as the setting for this film the added bonus was having fay wray in it.It was quite scary and believeable even in these times.
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"The most dangerous game" is a film from 1932 based on an earlier short story by Stephen Connell. It tells the tale of a deliberately ship-wrecked American big game hunter "Bob Rainsford" (Joel McCrae) who is hunted, along with "Eve Trowbridge" (Fay Wray), on the private island of deranged cossack "Count Zaroff" (Leslie Banks, channeling his Count Dracula impression). It is a lot of fun.

Yes, it is a bit cheesy at the start (the captain's last words being; "Oh, it got me" as he is eaten by a shark) but once on the island, the film really gets going in a big way. It is very atmospheric. Banks does a fantastic turn as the piano-playing, wide eyed, bonkers Count, with a habit of rubbing a scar on his temple (given to him by a cape buffalo, apparently) when contemplating his next evil move. He even has a mute helper "E-van" (Noble Johnson).

It comes in at just over an hour and cracks on at a good pace, famously using both the sets and some of the cast from "King Kong". The film itself is a very accomplished, very atmospheric, little gothic chase thriller. The story itself went on to be very influential and has been remade and reinterpreted dozens of times over the following decades. While I have seen quite a few of them over the years (E.g. "A Game of Death", "Run for the Sun", "The Naked Prey", "Turkey Shoot", The Running Man", "Hard Target"....), this one is easily still my favourite, mainly because of Banks, but also because the film just has a great feel to it.

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on 1 October 2009
The Most Dangerous Game was a very innovative film for the 1930's, featuring excellent cinematography and great pacing for the period. The film depicts a reclusive count on a deserted island. A shipwrecked party take refuge in his secluded mansion, one by one, they mysteriously vanish. The remaining guests discover the grisly truth, when they are ordered to leave the house by the count and prepare to be hunted like wild animals. The film clocks in at 63 minutes, it is streamlined and not boring to watch, unlike countless films of the period. The DVD presentation is ok, released by Elstree Hill, notorious for crap picture and sound, this DVD seems to be sourced from a half decent master. The audio is good and everything on screen is audible. If you want the best presentation available, the Criterion version is the one to buy, but this is ok for the money.
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on 29 July 2010
For a few years I had searched Amazon in vain for an old classic favourite of mine, 'The Hounds of Zaroff'. By chance, I recently searched the imdb website for this title and up popped 'The Most Dangerous Game'. Yes, this really was the same film, but with a title different from the one I had always known. Following the link to Amazon revealed the film to be readily available. My prey within reach, I pounced immediately, using g-zoop (marketplace seller) as a means of securing this most prized of bounty. My feast was ready to devour within very few days....

I watched this film the traditional way, late at night, adjusting the colour on my television to zero and turning out the lights.

There are no extras on this disc (even 'chapter search' is not possible)other than that the film has been colourised. For most of it's length, which is little more than an hour, the picture is crisp and clear. There are however a few brief shots in which the picture is noticeably washed out. Had the entire film been like this it would have been unwatchable, but as it is these moments do not seriously detract from the viewing experience.

Plot summary:

A mixed group of travellers are sailing the ocean when their ship is destroyed on an unmarked reef. They all either drown or are soon eaten by sharks except for one, Bob Rainsford (Joel McCrea), who manages to swim to a nearby island. After a short period recovering on the shore, he begins looking around the island and soon finds an impressive castle/chateau which appears to be inhabited. He goes to it in search of help and soon meets the owner of the island, the dashing Count Zaroff (Leslie Banks), who proves a generous and welcoming host. Rainsford is also introduced to a couple of people who had unfortunately been similarly wrecked just a few days earlier. The only way to leave the island would be by using the Count's boat, but that was being repaired at the moment and so the refugees would have to spend a few days as the guests of Count Zaroff. It turns out that the Count, an enthusiastic hunter of game, has already heard heard of Rainsford as the latter had written books about his own experiences as a hunter. With this in mind, the Count invites Rainsford to join him in some hunting. The following day the hunt begins, involving Rainsford, Zaroff, Zaroff's servants and hounds and Eva Trowbridge (Fay Wray), another guest. It is during the hunt that the tension and excitement really mounts, for on this island Zaroff has found prey that he can hunt nowhere else (the sets are the same as those used in 'King Kong', being filmed at the same time).

This film is a classic gothic horror, made on a small budget, which fully upholds the standard set by other 30's Hollywood films in the same genre. Watch and enjoy!

If possible after viewing in b&w, view again immediately in colour, this time to more fully appreciate the work of the art department (sets, costumes, matte artists, etc). Zaroff in particular looks stunning!
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on 1 October 2013
Slightly murky but full of excitement, this very early talkie has the bonuses of a very young Joel McCrea and a leeringly effective Leslie Banks with an accent that veers from Vladivostok via Arbroath in a lively 65 minutes of gothico-chase movie which has its moments of wit and danger throughout. One can like it without loving it. It is so dated it's fun and no doubt the Freudians will have fun with the man who has to hunt before he can love. Bonkers.
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