The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

“We’ll have gorgeous sport together.”

“The world is divided into two kinds of people in life–the Hunter and the Hunted” boldly declares world famous hunter Bob Rainsford (Joel McCrea). He explains his philosophy behind hunting to a yacht full of wealthy middle-aged men who’ve paid him to accompany them on a safari. Bob’s words are spoken moments before the yacht is shipwrecked–perhaps deliberately–and Bob manages to swim to the shores of an island. Once there, he is drawn to the lights of a castle belonging to the sinister Count Zaroff (Leslie Banks).

In the Count’s castle, Bob meets two fellow survivors from an earlier shipwreck–Eve Trowbridge (Fay Wray) and her drunken brother, Martin (Robert Armstrong). The Count is aware that Bob is a world-class hunter, and the Count confesses that hunting is his “one passion.” It seems that the Count no longer hunts game. It’s too boring. Now he hunts humans, and those who lose hang in his trophy room. The Count invites Bob to join him in his bizarre hobby.

All of us have probably seen one version or another of humans trapped and then hunted by some maniac. But The Most Dangerous Game is a superb, fresh little thriller with a tight script and exhilarating plot. The evil Count is a great character. He has a large scar left from a boar hunt, and he can’t stop himself from touching it whenever he’s disturbed. There’s one brilliantly shot scene in the Count’s trophy room when the use of light and shadows depicts Zaroff as a satanic figure. Of course, he has his evil eyes on the slender Eve (note her almost see-through, form fitting gown), and we know his wicked intentions when he gleefully claims that one must “kill then love. When you have known that, then you have known ecstasy.”

The Most Dangerous Game is a surprisingly good film. It’s only 63 minutes long, and not a scene is wasted. The action scenes are extremely tense, and this is a film that has aged incredibly well. Made in 1932, the Alpha DVD transfer is excellent. The picture is clear and the sound good. There are no extra features–just the option to hit “play” and an index/scene selection.

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