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This review originally appeared in issue 13 of THE CINEMA LASER.

THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME

The folks at The Roan Group must be congratulated for their terrific release of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME ($50). For collectors, this disc is certainly one of the best releases of 1995.

THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME is one of the most memorable films of the early 1930's. THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME defies genre categorization. It's part horror, part adventure, and all entertainment. The story concerns a big game hunter who finds himself shipwrecked on an isolated island in the pacific. On the island, the hunter finds a small fortress belonging to an exiled Russian aristocrat, whose own peculiar fascination is hunting. Soon our hunter discovers that his host has grown bored hunting the usual game. The Russian now stalks what he terms the most dangerous game­ man. This ironic twist leaves our hero the hunted, instead of the hunter. THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME stars Joel McCrea as the hunter, Leslie Banks as the Russian aristocrat, Fay Wray as the damsel in distress, Robert Armstrong as her inebriated brother and Noble Johnson as the mute Cossack. The leads all turn in delightful performances, but Leslie Banks' aristocratic villain is a genuine treat.

THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME was produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, the team responsible for KING KONG. If you are a Kong aficionado, you will recognizes many similarities between KING KONG and THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME. Some of the same actors appear in both films, as well as a number of the same jungle sets. THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME is only 63 minutes long, and races by at a breakneck pace. The rapid pace of the film keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat from beginning to end.

The Roan group has given THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME an excellent windowboxed transfer, which allows the viewer to see the full frame. Roan's efforts in windowboxing certainly makes me wish that the major studios would adopt such a practice for all of their 1.33:1 films. The black and white film element is in very good shape, with only a modest amount of blemishes. The transfer is smooth, richly detailed, with excellent contrast. There are only occasional shots that contain noticeable amounts of film grain. The film's original black and white cinematography was excellent, and this transfer truly restores to a level where it can be appreciated again. The digital monaural soundtrack has been digitally processed to clean up much of the noise contained on the old optical track. The sound is reasonably good and the dialogue is always intelligible. The Pioneer pressing had some modest speckling.

The Roan Group has supplemented THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME with a booklet that contains not only an essay on the film by George E. Turner, but a reproduction of the film's press book. There is an audio commentary by George E. Turner, which is a bit dry and sparse at times, but it is indeed informative. Side two of the disc is presented in CAV. There are extensive production credits added, which were not part of the print to THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME, as well as production credits for two remakes of the film. For this release, Roan has created a still section with music accompaniment, which features both stills and publicity materials. There is a short test film by special effects technician Willis O'Brien called CREATION, which was the basis for his later work on KING KONG. This collector's edition also includes a theatrical trailer for KING KONG and MIGHTY JOE YOUNG.

All in all, THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME is one of the most collectable titles to hit the market, and one I'm sure that many will want to add to their Laserdisc libraries.

 
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Laserdisc reviews are Copyright © 1996 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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