Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

The Most Dangerous Game (1932) was based on  the 1924 short story of the same name by Richard Connell, involving a mad hunter who arranges to have a ship wrecked on his private island so that he can indulge in his favorite sport, the hunting and killing of human beings.

The film was directed by Irving Pichel, who played Sandor in Dracula's Daughter (1936) and Ernest B. Schoedsack, who is best remembered for being the co-director of King Kong (1933).

The Most Dangerous Game (1932) starred King Kong (1933) leads Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong along with Joel McCrea and Leslie Banks.  Noble Johnson played "Ivan the Cossack", his role is the earliest known instance of a black actor working in "whiteface" to play a Caucasian character.  Johnson, who also appeared in Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932), was a childhood friend of Lon Chaney Sr. 

 Johnson started his own studio in 1916 and produced what was at that time called "race films", movies made for the African-American audience, which was largely ignored by the "mainstream" film industry.

This film had several ties to King Kong (1933) not only did it share actors, Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong  and co-director Ernest B. Schoedsack, some of the screams of the sailors as the ship sinks are the same as the screams of the sailors in King Kong (1933) when Kong shakes them off the log. Jungle sets used in The Most Dangerous Game (1932) were also used for the filming of jungle scenes in King Kong (1933).

Zaroff's dogs were actually Great Danes borrowed from silent comedy legend, Harold Lloyd.  The dog’s coats were darkened and they were filmed at a very low angle to make them appear more menacing.

Because the film was released 2 years before the Hays Code was enforced both Joel McCrea and Fay Wray were able to get away with wearing little clothing in comparison to other films of the same era. However after 1934 when the Hays Code was strictly enforced, the film was considered indecent and was barred from re-release. The Most Dangerous Game (1932) would not be shown publicly for several decades.

Although often categorized as a horror film, the only real horror film is the hunting of humans by a crazed individual. But the plot driven story is strong enough to entertain the most hardened horror fans. The film has gained a cult following in recent years and its plot line has been in several films and television series including, Gilligan's Island, Lost in Space, Get Smart, Fantasy Island, and Predators.

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