|Joel McRea and Fay Wray–Way over the legal limit on looking fabulous!|
reasons. Released in 1932, the movie is an adaptation of the Richard Connell short storyabout a Russian Aristocrat named Zaroff who has setup his own little island paradise for the express purpose of luring people there to hunt them as prey. Zaroff, played by Leslie Banks, bites off a little bit more than he can chew when he snags big game hunter Bob Rainsford, played by Joel McCrea. Along for the ride is Eve, played by Fay Wray. Her function in the film of course is to be rescued, and she needs rescuing too. It’s pre-code, so they could get away with more, and she is straightforwardly identified as a sexual prize to be claimed by the victor.
|Leslie Banks as Zaroff|
The film has the feel of a serial. The pacing is quick (runtime is a mere 63 minutes) and the dialogue ham fisted. “This world’s divided into two kinds of people,” says Rainsford, “the hunter and the hunted. Luckily I’m the hunter. Nothing can change that.” And then of course his ship promptly smashes into the rocks leaving him stranded on an island with a mad Russian intent on doing precisely that. Buster Crabbe, amusingly enough, makes an uncredited appearance as a sailor killed off during the ship’s sinking. And more interesting still, the special effects were done by Ray Harryhausen. Among the action scenes is a chase across the trunk of a giant felled tree suspended over a chasm, a scene reprised the next year in King Kong.
The film doesn’t deserve the 100% critic rating it has on Rotten Tomatoes. The 74% audience rating is closer to the mark, but it’s worth a watch for film buffs and/or anyone looking to make a drinking game out of Fay Wray’s facial exaggerations, especialy given it’s public domain and can be watched in its entirety for free on Youtube.