Mr Peter G George | Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom | 07/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Most Dangerous Game is a superb early horror film. It is a really creepy, chilling film with great atmosphere. I always prefer this sort of moody horror to more modern films in the genre that depend on shocks and gore. The Most Dangerous Game can really get under your skin with its central theme of a manhunt. I had always thought, until watching the movie, that the `Game' of the title was referring to a game like Poker or Baseball, but really it is game in the sense of big game, lions and tigers and such. It is man who is `the most dangerous game.' For humans with their intellect are more of a threat to the hunter. This idea of a hunter matching his wits against a fellow human being is a deeply disturbing idea.The film has a really fine cast. Leslie Banks plays the villain Zaroff and is suitably sinister without using histrionics. Joel McCrea shows why he would remain a leading man for the next thirty years and more. He had real star quality and a quiet acting ability similar to that of Gary Cooper. Fay Wray is delightful in a role which gives her more to do than just scream. The Criterion DVD is very good indeed. The print is superb. There is some occasional damage, but it is hardly noticeable. The images are nearly always clear and sharp and show off the black and white photography very well. Best of all however is the sound quality. Many early talkies have terrible sound with indistinct dialogue and lots of background noise. This DVD has great sound and Criterion should really be congratulated. The DVD also has an audio commentary track by film historian Bruce Eder. His commentary is worth listening to as he is obviously enthusiastic and well informed about The Most Dangerous Game."
Excellent (and Underappreciated) 1930's Era Horror Movie
Joseph Hudson | Chicago, IL | 01/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Most film viewers are familar with the great horror movies of the early 1930's: Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Mummy, King Kong, etc. This title belongs in this group! The Most Dangerous Game has a great cast (Joel McCrea as big game hunter Sanger Rainsford; Fay Wray as the beautiful Eve; and Leslie Banks as the sinister General Zaroff); compelling plot (General Zaroff hunts humans on his private island); energetic pacing (the movie runs approximately 62 minutes); high production values (many exterior scenes were filmed from same set as King Kong); and a memorable music score (Max Steiner). What is so amazing about this movie is that all of the above elements came together in a movie that was shot in about 30 days with a limited budget.The Criterion print of The Most Dangerous Game is excellent - the best print I have ever seen of the movie. Most of the prints available previously on inexpensive videotapes are very poor. In addition, the critic commentary by film historian Bruce Kawin is an added bonus to the Criterion offering."
Most Excellent DVD
E. Parsons | 07/28/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There has been some debate by previous reviewers of 'The Most Dangerous Game' about the quality of the digital transfer on to DVD. My own view is that the picture quality is outstanding. You do occasionally catch sight of objects shimmering, but the effect is negliable. What really hits you is the incredible sharpness and clarity of the print. This isn't limited to the picture either - the sound quality is equally as impressive. For a movie 70 years old you simply could not hope for better. The only extra feature is a very good commentary by Bruce Eder, whose knowledge of 'The Most Dangerous Game' seems limitless. This guy really knows his stuff and what's more, he delivers it in a very relaxed and friendly manner. The film itself is an action packed 63 minutes that is enlivened by a luscious Fay Wray with great support from Leslie Banks and Joel McCrea. The relatively short running time actually helps maintain a high level of suspense and interest - it feels like an 80 minute movie but with all the boring stuff cut out! To label 'The Most Dangerous Game' as a classic is an exaggeration. It is still a well-made, exciting movie that has stood the test of time exceptionally well. The film itself deserves 4 stars, but the great picture quality, sound and commentary make this DVD worthy of a 5 star rating."
Mommy, Can Zoroff Come Out to Play?
Teresa Anson | Michigan, USA | 11/25/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Most Dangerous Game is actually what my group of friends call our late-night, hardcore Scrabble sessions. Many have been injured, a few have even died. Heck, most of the time I even wear full football pads. But actually, the Most Dangerous Game is a sadistic big game hunt orchestrated by a borderline-vampire Russian count by the name of Zoroff on a desolate island--and he's hunting shipwrecked MEN. (It's never a good thing to be shipwrecked in Hollywood. You either become the prey of killer shrews and crazy Russians, or you end up with only Gilligan for company). You decide which is more entertaining!
In any event, this DVD by Legend Films is probably the best extant version of The Most Dangerous Game, in terms of both quality and features. Released in 1932, the film has subsequently become public domain, which has the effect of ensuring no entity had reason to update and preserve it, until now. Working again with legendary special effects guy Ray Harryhausen, Legend has fully re-mastered (in the George Lucas sense) the original black and white and imbued it with their trademark color, though they are always sure to include the original black and white on the same DVD has the color version.
And, unheard of for most `30s era releases, Legend has imbued this DVD with loads of extras and special features, including classic theatrical trailers and short subject films highlighting the importance of film scores, the career of legendary producer Merian Cooper and the work of composer Max Steiner. Though geared to the hardcore movie fan, these extras can provide an illuminating glimpse inside the industry for the rest of us schmucks."
Gripping Tale Of Man Hunting Man With Fay Wray And Joel McCr
Simon Davis | 01/09/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I think probably one of the greatest terrors you could experience would be as the prey of a hunter out to get you as a "trophy" in an isolated region far from help. As actor Joel McCrea says during the lead up to the exciting climax in "The Most Dangerous Game", "now I know how the animals feel!". RKO's film version of the short story by Richard Connell explores that chilling idea to perfection where one human being indulges in the "ultimate sport", (for lack of a better term), of hunting down and killing a fellow human being. As foreign and distasteful as that idea may be to the majority of people it makes for a fascinating story here that succeeds beautifully in keeping you on the edge of your seat for almost the entire film's running time. Fay Wray always remembered as King Kong's love interest and for possessing the best scream of any person in Hollywood in the 30's, here takes on a different kind of role which she filmed concurrently with "King Kong",on the RKO lot. Long consigned to terrible public domain copies that were almost unwatchable, Criterion here have given this fascinating movie a deluxe restoration treatment that returns it to the pristine condition it deserves to be seen in.
As the action opens we see big game hunter Bob Rainsford (Jole McCrea), who is also an author of hunting books, travelling with his group on a ship towards his next worldwide port of call. The Captain approaches a strange set of lighted markers in the water which somehow seem in the wrong spaces and very soon the boat has crashed into a reef and sunk leaving Bob the only survivor after a vicious shark attack removes all the others that survived the sinking of the boat. Making his way to the nearest shoreline he finds himself on a strange island and before long stumbles across a large fortress-like Castle which he enters. There he makes the acquaintance of the castle's owner , the mysterious Count Zaroff (Leslie Banks), a Russian nobleman who lives along on the island except for a few Russian attendants. At first Zaroff seems the perfect host and Rainsford finds out that he is not along as Zaroff's reluctant houseguest when he is introduced to two other survivors of a ship wreck. Brother and sister Eve and Martin Trowbridge (Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong). All is soon appearing not well as Eve reveals to Bob that other members of her party have already "disappeared" , and very soon Bob begins to worry about the sanity of his host when their ideas on big game humting seem to vary greatly. Exploring the castle at night Bob and Eve discover the real purpose of thir host's hospitality when firstly Martin disappears and then they dicover Count Zaroff's sinister "trophy room", which is full of human heads preserved in bottles alongside torture instruments. The prey that Zaroff likes to hunt is now revealed and when they are discovered in the room Bob and Eve become the Count's latest "sport" when he reveals that by placing the false lighted markers in the water he lures unsuspecting travellers to the island for his "sport". The pair now become the hunted and are given a head start to try and evade the insane Count Zaroff until dawn of the following day. Being pursued on the island the pair endure the terror of being hunted animals as they try to outsmart their twisted host. Only after a final confrontation with the Count's savage hunting dogs does Bob work out a plan whereby he fakes his own death and later returns to the castle to rescue Eve. The finale sees a fight to the death between Bob and the Count which ends once and for all the barbaric "sport", being practiced on the island.
Film-makers Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper certainly had their work cut out for them in 1932 with their concurrent production schedules for "King Kong", and "The Most Dangerous Game". Indeed many of the sets served duty in both productions and cast members Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong worked on both films on the RKO lot at the same time. "The Most Dangerous Game", is memorable for its clear character definitions with upright and basically decent Joel McCrea drawn up to a fight to the death with the dastardly villian as seen in Leslie Bank's mysterious Count Zaroff character. Fay Wray at first glance may seem like the token love interest thrown in for good measure but she is allowed in this screenplay to show some resourcefulness when she and McCrea are being pursued through the jungle. She and McCrea team very well here but the really memorable character is of course Leslie Banks' bizzare Russian count who is seeking the ultimate 'thrill", of hunting down and killing a human being. Leslie Banks' real life injuries incurred during World War I which paralysed some of his facial muscles ironically help him in his sinister characterisation here and a huge makeup scar on his forehead also increases the sinister look of this deranged killer to great effect. Alot of the eerie feel of "The Most Dangerous Game", thus stems from his character and Banks makes the most of it. Some of his best scenes occur early in the film long before the chase sequences begin when we sense that something is very wrong on this island but are not yet totally sure of his real purpose in entertaining his "guests", on the island. Visually the film has that rich 1930's feel to it and of course because of the close relationship between the two productions, it does have a similiar look to alot of "King Kong". The set of Count Zaroff's Castle is also one of RKO's best from this time full of sinister stairways, huge rooms full of gothic furniture, with his "Trophy Room", being quite startlingly by even today's standards with severed heads preserved in jars and with horrific looking instruments of torture ready for use. The film's short (63 minute), running time also serves the story here well as character development is kept to a minimum and the action moves rapidly from such scenes as the original boat sinking, through to the introduction of Count Zaroff's character, and then on quickly to the extended chase sequence not letting up until the conclusion.
It is a pleasure to have this exciting film returned literally from the "dead" via Criterion's superb restoration for this new DVD release. For those that have only ever seen this film in fuzzy, badly copied versions on video, they would be well advised to experience this film's real qualities in this new version. It combines a first class thriller with its quite frightening theme of man's basic inhumanity towards man with fantastic visuals that belies this film's great age. Very little of the interesting work of Fay Wray and Joel McCrea is readily available for movie buffs to enjoy but "The Most Dangerous Game", is one of the best that both actors worked on and it certainly reveals Fay Wray as an actress who should be remembered for much more than simply screaming at King Kong's approach. For edge of the seat suspense set in exotic far away places "The Most Dangerous Game", makes unsurpassed entertainment that I recommend highly to you in this beautifully restored new version.