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KING KONG'S SISTER PRODUCTION 'THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME'

The opening credit doorknob in Most Dangerous Game Year: 1933
Based a short story by Richard Connell, the GAME template has been used many times, but the best adaptation is the Cooper & Schoedsack production that proceeded the groundbreaking KING KONG, filmed mostly in the same RKO island location sets and co-starring several familiar faces.

We spend the first few minutes on a boat where a group of high class, cigar puffing gentleman talk about their favorite sport, highlighting special guest Bob, played by Joel McCrea, a lanky chap famous for hunting wild tigers and never backing down: And right when Bob mentions how he’s glad to be the hunter and not the hunted, the boat hits a reef, goes down into shark-infested waters, and everyone dies except our hero, who winds up on a beach, making his way into a giant spooky castle inhabited by an obviously nefarious white man Zaroff, played by Leslie Banks. And there are guests left over by the last shipwreck…

Leslie Banks takes aim in The Most Dangerous Game
In the roles of brother and sister Eve and Martin is none other than KING KONG legends Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong… While Wray is the co-lead ingĂ©nue, Armstrong is given a filler role and spends most of the time drunkenly slurring in that old school fashion, annoying Zaroff until the plot unravels… And with only the dashing Bob and the beautiful Eve left, we’ve learned Zaroff’s master plan: he hunts human beings, not animals… These are considered THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME!

Leslie Banks provides all the delicious, expository venom of your classic film heavy – going over the top in such a perfect way you’ll want to hear him rant and rave forever within his cozy confides. As the vamping Zaroff stalks his own stairwell like a phantom ruling his immense bachelor pad purgatory castle, the camera pans to his face while Max Steiner’s melodramatic score blares with sinister premonition. The famous KONG starlet Wray, meanwhile, provides damsel in distress moments, and yet what she holds back, not wanting to be heard by her surreptitious captor, is the most important element of her subdued performance. 

Leslie Banks in The Most Dangerous Game RATES: ****1/2
Soon enough it's dawn, aka hunting season, and we venture from the lush Gothic interior to the formidably foggy outdoors...

This is where KING KONG was being filmed at the same time (Fay was a busy actress, serving as a wish-bone between two productions)...

Bob and Eve run throughout the island as a gun-wielding Zaroff keeps on their trail, eventually using his henchman (KONG's "Native Chief" Noble Johnson) and guard dogs for backup: DANGEROUS GAME providing two movies for the price of one: the first being a dialogue driven philosophy on life and death, the second a fast paced action film that, like KING KONG once we hit the island, never lets up...
Fay Wray & Joel McCrea in The Most Dangerous Game 
Joel McCrea in THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME
Fay Wray in THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME
Joel McCrea in THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME with Fay Wray
Robert Armstrong getting drunker in THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME
A familiar King Kong set first in THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME
Fay Wray in THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME with Joel McCrea
Beautiful matte with birds later used for Citizen Kane THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME
Joel McCrea returns mad as hell in THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME
 Joel McCrea in THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME with Noble Johnson
Joel McCrea, Noble Johnson and Leslie Banks The Most Dangerous Game
Leslie Banks & King Kong native Noble Johnson
A smoking Leslie Banks in THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME
Cool early Criterion DVD with great cover

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