Directed by Irving Pichel [Other horror films: N/A] & Ernest B. Schoedsack [Other horror films: The Monkey’s Paw (1933), King Kong (1933), Dr. Cyclops (1940)]
This is one of those classics that I don’t often think about, but after seeing it again, I think it’ll go up in my rankings of 30’s classics.
Based off a short story of the same name written by Richard Connell, the simple story (a hunter becomes the hunted upon arriving on an island following a shipwreck) here contains a hell of a lot of suspense, and that, mixed with some pretty memorable characters, makes this a movie to be aware of.
Though Joel McCrea no doubt does a solid job as the protagonist, it’s Leslie Banks as Zaroff who really steals the show. He feels very much like the madman that he probably is, and while he’s not quite as memorable as Charles Laughton from Island of Lost Souls, he’s still very much the fun character here. For comedic relief, we have Robert Armstrong, who plays a somewhat hilarious drunkard here. Fay Wray is great too, as McCrea’s romantic interest. For her part, she knows a bit more about Banks’ character than McCrea does, so she’s pretty useful also.
The idea of hunting humans (calling them ‘the most dangerous game’) isn’t really something that would bat an eye nowadays, but it was done really well back then, and the hunt through the jungle-like environment, especially near that boggy, misty area, was thrilling from beginning to end.
In the early 1930’s, there are so many classic horror movies that The Most Dangerous Game can easily get overlooked, and like I said, despite having seen and enjoyed it before, I too sort of forgot about it. It’s a good movie, though, and definitely worth a look if you’re a fan of the classics.
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