The Most Dangerous Game (1932)


The movie The Most Dangerous Game (1932) is a survival horror film directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack and Irving Pichel, starring Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, and Leslie Banks. The movie is an adaptation of the 1924 short story of the same name by Richard Connell [1].

The movie The Most Dangerous Game (1932) begins with a luxury yacht sailing through a channel off the northeastern coast of South America. Among the passengers is Robert “Bob” Rainsford, a big game hunter and author. During a discussion with other passengers, Bob is asked if he would exchange places with the animals he hunts. After the yacht’s owner disregards the captain’s concerns about the channel lights not matching the charts, the ship runs aground, takes on water, and explodes. Bob is the only survivor and manages to swim ashore to a small island nearby. He suspects that the ship was deliberately led off course to its doom after noticing the channel lights off the shoreline change. Bob stumbles across a chateau where he becomes the guest of Count Zaroff, an expatriate Russian and fellow hunting enthusiast who is familiar with Bob and his writings. Zaroff reveals that four other earlier shipwrecked survivors are also his guests: Eve Trowbridge, her alcoholic brother Martin, and two sailors.

Later, Zaroff introduces Bob to the Trowbridges, and tells them his obsession with hunting became boring until he discovered “the most dangerous game” on the island. Bob doesn’t understand Zaroff, who fails to explain further. Eve is suspicious of Zaroff and tells Bob the two sailors that survived with them have not been seen since each visited Zaroff’s trophy room. During the night, when Martin also vanishes, Eve and Bob go to the trophy room where they find the “trophies” are human heads. Now realizing what prey Zaroff hunts, Bob calls him a madman and is restrained. Bob refuses Zaroff’s offer to join him in hunting humans, and Zaroff tells Bob he must be the next prey.

Like those before him, Bob will be turned loose at dawn, given a hunting knife and some provisions, and allowed the entire day to roam the island until midnight, when Zaroff will begin his hunt. If Bob survives until 4 a.m., then Bob “wins” the game and Zaroff will give him keys to his boathouse so he can leave the island. Zaroff then says he has never lost what he terms “outdoor chess.” Eve decides to go with Bob, and Zaroff tells Eve he will not hunt her since she is a woman; but, if Bob loses, she must return with him. The pair spend most of the day setting a trap for Zaroff. But, when the hunt begins, Zaroff discovers the trap and begins a cat and mouse pursuit of Bob.

Eventually, Bob and Eve are trapped by a waterfall. When Bob is attacked by a hunting dog, Zaroff fires a shot with his rifle; both Bob and the dog fall off the cliff into the water below. Presuming Bob is dead, Zaroff takes Eve back to his fortress to enjoy his prize. However, to Zaroff’s surprise, Bob returns to the chalet, explaining that the dog was shot, not he. Zaroff admits defeat and presents the key to the boathouse, but Bob discovers him holding a gun behind his back. Bob first fights Zaroff, then his henchmen, killing the henchmen and mortally wounding Zaroff. As Bob and Eve leave the island, they hear Zaroff’s horn blowing, echoing across the island.


  • Joel McCrea as Robert “Bob” Rainsford
  • Fay Wray as Eve Trowbridge
  • Leslie Banks as Count Zaroff
  • Robert Armstrong as Martin Trowbridge
  • Noble Johnson as Ivan
  • Steve Clemente as Tartar
  • William B. Davidson as Captain
  • Dutch Hendrian as Tartar Servant
  • James Flavin as First Mate on Yacht
  • Arnold Gray as Passenger on Yacht


  • The trophy room scenes were much longer in the preview version of 78 minutes; there were more heads in jars. There was also an emaciated sailor, stuffed and mounted next to a tree where he was impaled by Zaroff’s arrow, and another full-body figure stuffed, with the bodies of two of the hunting dogs mounted in a death grip ¹².
  • The actor playing “Ivan the Cossack” was Noble Johnson, a multi-talented black American who was a childhood friend of Lon Chaney. This is the earliest known instance of a black actor playing a Caucasian character ¹.
  • The original story by Richard Connell is one of the most anthologized short stories of all time ¹.


“Through the imaginative fashion in which it has been produced, together with its effective staging and a note-worthy performance by Leslie Banks, the fantastic theme of “The Most Dangerous Game,” the film feature at the Paramount, makes a highly satisfactory melodrama. It has the much-desired virtue of originality, which, in no small measure, compensates for some of its gruesome ideas and its weird plot.” [3]

“One of the film’s most notable strengths is its ability to create and sustain a palpable sense of tension throughout its running time. From the moment Rainsford sets foot on the island, the atmosphere becomes suffused with an ominous foreboding, heightened by eerie visuals, thanks to cinematographer Henry W. Gerrard and a haunting score by the legendary composer Max Steiner.” [4]


[1] Wikipedia
[2] IMDb
[3] Original NY Times Review:

Last updated byCody Meirick on December 21, 2023