The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
Released: September 9th, 1932
Genre: Adventure, Horror, Mystery,
Starring: Joel McCrea, Fay Wray
Inspired by the great short story of the same name, written by Richard Connell. A tale about hunting and morality. Using a philosophical debate topic to create a story/film is certainly an admirable feat. This film is one of the first classic films I watched, and the positives of it inspired me to continue watching more.
An insane hunter arranges for a ship to be wrecked on an island where he can indulge in some sort of hunting and killing of the passengers.
Too much of this is clearly done on a set. If you are going to make set pieces, make them well enough that I can believe it is not happening there. Films shot on location will never be topped. (Though the gap is certainly closing.)
Typical female representation. She is hysterical and more of a hindrance throughout the film. I find it insulting and I am male. I can only imagine what modern women would feel about this role.
The big discussion about this film (spoiler warning) is whether or not hunting is morally righteous. Where is the line drawn between sport and murder? What circumstances draw us to this conclusion? One could suggest the film has a distaste for hunting in general. Having that discussion in the 1930’s is quite the bold stance.
I love a good villain, and Zaroff is that. Complete with a menacing scar, merciless assistants, and a cruel and inhuman ideology likely inspired by head trauma. Maybe a bit over the top at times, but he is compelling.
Joel McCrea as Bob and Leslie Banks as Zaroff are two strong male leads. They are in direct conflict of ideologies and I really love seeing it play out on screen. They keep the movie at a good pace for much of it. Whenever they are on screen, you are learning and focused on the messages being discussed.
It may be cliche to tell you the book/story was better, but it is often true as it is in this case. The Most Dangerous Game does an admirable job discussing the morality of hunting. The dangers of letting one’s passions get to the extremes. Extremism is dangerous in nearly every situation. While this isn’t the best film of the 1930’s, it is a fun adventure movie with serious themes and strong leads