A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Most Dangerous Game (Merian B. Schoedsack, Irving Pichel, 1932)

Fay Wray and Joel McCrea in The Most Dangerous Game
Bob Rainsford: Joel McCrea
Eve Trowbridge: Fay Wray
Count Zaroff: Leslie Banks
Martin Trowbridge: Robert Armstrong
Ivan: Noble Johnson
Tartar: Steve Clemente
Captain: William B. Davidson

Director: Merian B. Schoedsack, Irving Pichel
Screenplay: James Ashmore Creelman
Based on a story by Richard Connell
Cinematography: Henry W. Gerrard
Art direction: Carroll Clark
Film editing: Archie Marshek
Music: Max Steiner

Director Merian B. Schoedsack and actors Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong were literally moonlighting when they made The Most Dangerous Game: During the day they were working on King Kong (1933), which also used many of the same sets. While not the landmark film that King Kong has become, The Most Dangerous Game has some of the same sexy intensity, much of it provided by Wray's ability to look both wide-eyed and sultry. As in King Kong, she is a damsel in distress, trekking through the jungle in entirely inappropriate and flimsy attire. But although Wray is given little to do but shriek, writhe, and run, she manages to persuade us that if anyone could survive such perils, she's the one. Also like King Kong, The Most Dangerous Game carries an ambivalence about the sport of big-game hunting, articulated by Joel McCrea's Bob Rainsford when he admits that being hunted has let him know how the animals he hunted felt. Leslie Banks is the main show, however, using his war-paralyzed face to convey the madness of his supposedly Russian count -- who doesn't seem to speak Russian but instead some kind of gibberish -- with his credo of "Kill, then love." This is a pulse-pounding classic that moves along at a relentless clip from the exceptionally speedy shipwreck to the well-staged chase. It gets much of its energy from Max Steiner's score, which picks up the two notes of the count's hunting horn and embroiders on them effectively.

No comments: