The Most Dangerous Game (Irving Pichel/Ernest B. Schoesdack, 1932, USA)

The Most Dangerous Game (1932) was the first cinematic adaptation of Richard Connell's 1924 short story of the same title. Published in the magazine Colliers, the story is a standard in many American short fiction anthologies and has been considered possibly the most popular short story ever written in English. Bringing the film to the screen were directors Irving Pichel and Ernest B. Schoedsack. Most cinephiles know Schoedsack as the director of the original King Kong, and in fact, The Most Dangerous Game was filmed at night using the sets from King Kong. The sets were not the only thing The Most Dangerous Game has in common with King Kong. Both films also featured actress Fay Wray, known as the earliest scream queen for her role in Kong. Featured in the lead role is Joel McCrea, who had an immensely prolific career, working with many of the great American directors of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. 

The film itself is a tight 60-minute adaptation, which is great in that it doesn't overstay its welcome. The film is perhaps more popular for its reputation than the actual filmmaking itself. The low-budget can be felt, especially in the over-the-top performance of the villain Count Zaroff, played by Leslie Banks. The Most Dangerous Game is truly a precursor of all action and survival horror films and shares elements also with James Bond films. The film also apparently had some real-life echoes, with San Francisco's anonymous Zodiac killer citing it in the letters he would send to the police. The story has since been adapted several times, including in the 1990s with Ernest Dickerson's Surviving the Game, starring Ice-T, Rutger Hauer, and Gary Busey. Overall, The Most Dangerous Game is one of the better action-thrillers of the 1930s and is worth revisiting for fans of the genre. 



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