What’s a Blog-a-thon? This movie exchange is a challenge, its participants have chosen films the other has not seen to watch and review.
Marcey’s criteria for Chris: Horror Films of the 1930’s
Why Marcey Chose This Film For Chris: Much like with Island Of Lost Souls, The Most Dangerous Game is a film I first watched only a few years ago during 31 Days Of Horror. I had heard a lot about the film, and the tremendous inspiration it has given cinema. It is a simple plot, the humans become the ultimate hunting prey. Sound familiar? Well of course it does! Not only has this film been a huge inspiration, it is a great film as well. It blends many genre’s together, gathers a great cast and it manages to tell an intriguing story within an hour. For me this is must see viewing for any fan of cinema.
In Treehouse of Horror XVI there is a segment called Survival of the Fattest which sees Mr. Burns invite most of the main male cast from The Simpsons to his mansion where he reveals to them that he intends to hunt them for sport as he sees man as the ultimate prey. What follows in the next 5-6 minutes his one of the most hilarious and brutal of the Halloween specials from the classic series, but like many of the horror segments Survival of the Fattest was based on a classic horror film, in this case RKO’s 1932 The Most Dangerous Game.
“This world’s divided into two kinds of people: the hunter and the hunted. Luckily I’m the hunter. Nothing can change that”, this is what Bob Rainsford (Joel McCrea) proudly boasts in the opening moments of the The Most Dangerous Game, which was based on the short story by Richard Connell published in 1924. Rainsford is sharing stories of his hunts with some colleges as they travel across the ocean to their next hunt. Soon afterwards the ship crashes into rocks and Rainsford becomes the only survivor, after watching one of his friends being dragged under the water by a shark, washing up on the beach of an island whose only inhabitant is the mysterious General Zarloff (Leslie Banks) and his servants Ivan and Tartar.
I’ve always known of the plot of The Most Dangerous Game as I am a fan of the many novels and films that have been inspired by the film, such as Batoru Rowaiaru (Battle Royale) by Koushun Takami. Thanks to The Simpsons Halloween segment my interest in the film had risen, although strangely I never got round to seeing it, but to be blank the film didn’t meet my expectations. Directed by Irving Pichel and Ernest B. Schoedsack, the later who would in the following year co-direct King Kong with producer Merian C. Cooper, who serves as producer on this film, the film follows Connell’s original story fairly faithfully with the exception of the inclusion of Eve and Martin Trowbridge (Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong), a brother and sister who are also survivors of a previous shipwreck. The inclusion of these characters, particularly Wray’s damsel in distress Eve, was invented by the studio so as to add a romantic element to bring in a bigger audience, a formula that studios in the 1930’s copied for all of their horror pictures.
The films main villain, General Zarloff is a generic villain with little charisma and doesn’t offer much of a threat as during the final hunt, Rainsford who is now choking on those words he spoke at the beginning as he is now being hunted proves to be a worthy adversary for the Generals seasoned hunter. Whilst watching the film I couldn’t help think about ways that the script could have made a more interesting story, but then this was me thinking how I would remake the film after all this was designed for a 1930’s audience which was banned for many years by the censors partly due to the main theme of hunting a human.
I’ve never been a real fan of Schoedsack and Cooper’s and I’ve never enjoyed Fay Wray’s performances as I’ve always seen her as just being a screaming damsel that needs saving, and that’s all she is in this film, she offers nothing to the story other than informing Rainsford of Zarloff’s villainous intentions and screaming at the top of her lungs.
I think what I most enjoyed about the film, if the only thing is the idea of the hunter becoming the hunted. Its a strong message that resonates even today as big game hunting is still a major issue with animal conservation, a lesson that Rainsford learns very quickly as I’m sure after this experience the character would now sympathise with the poor animals he has killed in the past.
Even with its powerful message I didn’t think much of this film and I can defiantly see it being remade in the possible future once, but for the moment I’ll be sticking with The Simpsons adaptation.
Review written by Christopher Innis