Classic Video Showplace

CLASSIC VIDEO SHOWPLACE: “The Most Dangerous Game”

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For over a hundred years some of the greatest video treasures of all time have been produced. Some have been lost in the sands of time and others, soon to be rediscovered, will become fan favorites for a whole new generation.

Each week we will feature just one of the many hidden gems that you can see on RCN TV with insights and commentaries on classic television shows and legendary cinematic performances.

“The Most Dangerous Game” features a storyline that most people have probably read about or seen, but whose name they may not remember off the tops of their heads.

It’s an original short story, written by Richard Connell in the 1920s, and is required reading in many schools.

The plot? A man arrives on a remote island owned by an eccentric recluse with a unique desire for big game hunting.  The lost man, after being greeted warmly and initially treated very hospitably, soon discovers that he is the hunter’s next target in a do-or-die, winner-take-all game of hunting each other.

This story has been repeated many times for radio plays, television scripts and full movie productions.

But the first ever film version of “The Most Dangerous Game,” made in 1932, has several unique characteristics.

First of all, it was one of the first talking motion pictures to base its story on a recently written publication.

(Wray and McCrea as the film’s protagonists)

It featured four of the biggest movie stars of the time – Fay Wray, Leslie Banks, Joel McCrea and Robert Armstrong. Two of its stars, Wray (Kong’s love interest) and Armstrong (with his classic line: “it wasn’t the airplanes, it was beauty that killed the Beast”) would reunite the following year in the classic and original version of “King Kong.”

Noble Johnson also had smaller roles in both “Game” and “Kong.”

Many of the sets used in the former film were re-created for Kong’s homeland and several interior shots. In a few scenes, it’s easy to see the similarities where the same locations were reused.

(Banks as the sardonic Count Zaroff)

Buster Crabbe, who won a gold medal in swimming at the Olympics that same year, had a small role in the film as well. Crabbe would go on to star in over 100 films and have success playing the titular roles in “Flash Gordon,” “Tarzan,” and “Buck Rogers.”

“Game” was produced by soon-to-be legendary film creator David O. Selznick and distributed by the iconic David Sarnoff’s RKO pictures – the same company that would be responsible for “Citizen Kane,” a film widely regarded as the greatest movie of all time.

According to the “Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television,” the film grossed an unusually high (for its time) $70,000 in its initial release and $443,000 overall.

In addition to receiving widespread praise from both critical reviewers and moviegoers alike, it remains a favorite even today – receiving the almost unheard of 100% rating by Rotten Tomatoes.

In addition to multiple remakes, specific references to the 1932 film have been used in many modern-day vehicles, including the 2007 movie, “Zodiac,” starring Jake Gyllenthaal, and FX Network’s “Son of the Beach.”

“The Most Dangerous Game” will be featured in the RCN Movie Vault (Retro Movie Special) on Wednesday, June 4, at 9 pm, and again on Saturday evening, June 6, at 8:30 pm.

To view the complete rundown of classic programming on RCN TV, check out the weekly listings here on our website.