The Most Dangerous Game (9/16/32) What is now considered Cooper and Schoedsacks test reel for their later epic, was always meant to be an epic of its own. I think reducing the budget helped make it a better movie, cutting away anything extraneous leaving us with the best version. There is nothing subtle about this thriller, everything is telegraphed like a freight train whistle, which is not a bad thing for our tight little island tale of terror and sadism. Banks gives us another villain in fancy dress with impecable manners, yet bug house crazy. The horror elements are limited to his trophy room and Zaroff’s decorating sense.
Banks’ white Russian expat libertine madman, stroking his TBI like Bloefeld’s cat, gives us a good idea why the Reds decided to give them the boot. Fay is well…Fay….blonde or brunette, there is no other woman you can drag through a jungle day and night and still look magazine cover fresh. Joel would stay swoon worthy until well into the 1950s, I would take him over that block of wood Bruce Cabot anyday. But my favorite in your face injoke, is seeing the great Noble Johnson in white face. And I think Cooper’s anti temperance stance did Robert Armstrong’s character no favors, that fella that drunk on that island would have been short lived.
For those who have no tolerance for drawing room anti-comedy and coded threats, you can nip up to minute 39 when McRae/Wray start running through RKO’s Stage 12 test driving Kong’s swamp, cave, and fallen tree over the ravine. Gloriously elaborated with matte paintings, rear screen projection, picture in a picture, employing all of the cutting edge illusions. These magnificent jungle sets seem so lifeless without all the birds and creatures, perhaps Zaroff has already killed off everything. Cept for Harold LLoyds dogs which are fascinating to watch…yes they are 1930s Great Danes, all kinds of scary and muscular. Danes these days look like skinny ponies in comparison.
The movie has it’s own thing going on, but most people are brought to it because of the Kong associations. I always try to watch it paired with Kong and keep checking youtube for an edit mashup of the two films. Zaroff meet Kong.. ..then Kong would rag-doll the hell out of him like Hulk v. Loki. Ha