|Sep 16 2022
Tired of checkers, chess, and cards? Has he got a game for you.
Man hunted in the wild by a supposedly more intelligent and powerful foe is a concept used numerous times in Hollywood with great success, perhaps reaching its pinnacle with 1987's sci-fi actioner Predator. The idea goes all the way back to The Most Dangerous Game, a pre-Code chiller starring Joel McCrae, Leslie Banks, and Fay Wray. When a luxury yacht of upper crust types runs aground off the Pacific coast of South America, only McCrae survives. He's landed on a jungle island owned by a mad Russian named Count Zaroff, played with walleyed fervor by Banks, who hunts humans for kicks.
Zaroff's creepy ole stone mansion doesn't look like a place where one might hope to find aid, but McCrae has no choice but to go there. He isn't the only stranded raw meat hanging around. Boats occasionally crash because the Count moved the channel markers that are supposed to warn boaters away from the rocks. With each shipwreck he has new game to hunt. Wray is already on the island, having run aground before McCrae. She has an inkling things are not kosher, and she turns out to be correct.
The movie is stagy and clunky in its expository sequences, like most pre-Code productions, and Wray's acting is a sheer hoot, but there are positives. There's striking outdoor footage shot around Rancho Palos Verdes, which adds excellent imagery to a film that is indisputably a high visual achievement, and that in turn helps the action sequences come across as both gripping and believable. And of course the basic idea always works. Hunter and hunted, a battle of wits, a match to the death. The Most Dangerous Game premiered today in 1932.
*sigh* I'm getting mighty fucking bored on this island. Even my best formal wear doesn't lift my mood anymore.
My God. I suddenly have the most dastardly idea.
And now we shall play a very dangerous game! Staring like cats! We'll be in danger of enjoying ourselves!
Stand against the wall and I'll throw this knife at you. I mean—not at you. Close enough to be dangerous. I mean— Okay, I can see you're not into it.
How about a little Russian roulette? That's a fairly dangerous game.
Erm... Joel? I think we should flee before he gets to the most dangerous game.
We're lost aren't we? I said flee. I didn't say flee with no goddamn idea which way you were going.
Are you sure we shouldn't have turned left back there at the bog of doom?
Just admit you're lost, Joel. And not to add to your worries, but I'm getting pretty hungry. If I'm snippy it's your fault.
Okay, now we're just going in circles.
See? He's found us! You never listen!
Count! Can you hear me? I'll make you a deal! Take her, and let me leave!
RKO Radio PicturesHays CodeThe Most Dangerous GameJoel McCreaFay WrayLeslie BanksRobert Armstrongposter artcinemamovie review