Just watched this one tonight, a 1932 movie with Fay Wray, Joel McCrea, and Leslie Banks (as the smarmy, scarred, aristocratic Zaroff).
Read the story over and over as a kid from my favorite collection, Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural. In a nutshell, a Russian big game hunter has grown bored with traditional game, and has set up a Pacific island with false buoys with which to wreck passing ships. Those who make it to his hospitality become “The Most Dangerous Game”, forced into the jungles to be hunted by the count and his dogs.
The imagery here was striking, some very neat zoom shots of faces and expressions. In the pursuit along the treetops, the camera tracks the fugitives’ point-of-view, pushing through fronds and leaves, rushing headlong. Close ups of their faces glancing back, she fearful, he fearless. And the count, snarling and driving his hounds and beaters forward, desperate to kill his prey and win this “Game of Chess”.
Of course, the Count thinks he’s killed the hero, but in classic villain-foible form does not actually find his body. He returns to his castle to slurp wine and pursue gentlemanly amusements, until, of course, the hero turns up like a bad penny. The book is delicious (you’ll have the read the beautiful closing line yourself). The movie is more frantic, more flailing fists and such, but you gotta love this exchange, as the Count rises to his feet when the hero enters, fists balled.
“Very good, Rainsford. You have beaten me.”