© 1932 RKO Radio Pictures

The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

The Most Dangerous Game is often seen as a sort of warm up to King Kong. It was produced by the producer/director team of Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack in 1932, one year before Kong, and shares the same leading lady in Fay Wray and Robert Amstrong, who would play the man who brings Kong to New York. This film also uses some miniature and full-sized sets that were later used in Kong, and tries out some of the camera tricks that would be so vital to bringing the big ape to the screen.

Yet this film RKO production is interesting in its own right, without relating it to its more famous successor. The well-known plot tells the story of Bob Rainsford, a famed hunter who is the sole survivor of a shipwreck and swims to an island inhabited by an eccentric Russian count. The count is host to survivors of a previous sinking (Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong), and two sailors who recently went missing. The Count is also a lifelong hunter, and has progressed to “the most dangerous game,” deliberately causing shipwreck near his island and then hunting any survivors.

While most of the film is just an excuse to string together some cleverly filmed chase sequences, the scant dialogue is well written. Just before sinking,  Rainsford and a doctor onboard the yacht are philosophizing about the art of hunting. The doctor ponders: “I was thinking of the inconsistency of civilization. The beast of the jungle, killing just for his survival, is called savage. The man, killing just for sport is called civilized.  It is a bit contradictory isn’t it? ” In reply, Rainsford utters the key line in the film: “This world’s divided into two kinds of people: the hunter and the hunted. Luckily I’m the hunter. Nothing can change that.”

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