The Most Dangerous Game

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"The Most Dangerous Game", also known as "The Hounds of Zaroff", is a short story by Richard Connell. It was published in Collier's Weekly on January 19, 1924.

Widely anthologized, and the author's best-known work, "The Most Dangerous Game" features as its main character a big-game hunter from New York, who falls off a yacht and swims to an isolated island in the Caribbean, and is hunted by a Russian aristocrat. The story is an inversion of the big-game hunting safaris in Africa and South America that were fashionable among wealthy Americans in the 1920s.


[edit] Characters

  • Sanger Rainsford, an accomplished and experienced hunter from New York.
  • General Zaroff, a man of pre-Revolutionary Russian aristocratic background. Above middle-age. Utterly fixated on hunting.
  • Ivan, Zaroff's large Cossack servant and bodyguard. He is deaf and unintelligent.
  • Whitney, Rainsford's friend who appears briefly in the introduction, wondering what it would be like if he were the hunted instead of the hunter.

[edit] Summary

Sanger Rainsford and his hunting companion Whitney are traveling to the Amazon forest to hunt the fabled big cat of that region, the jaguar. After a discussion about how they are the hunters instead of the hunted, Rainsford hears shots, drops his pipe, and falls off of their boat while trying to retrieve it. He washes up on an island, Ship-Trap Island, that is the subject of local superstition. He finds a palatial chateau owned by a Cossack hunter named General Zaroff and his Cossack servant Ivan. General Zaroff, also a big-game hunter, has heard of Rainsford and read Rainsford's book. Over dinner, General Zaroff explains to Rainsford how he became so good at hunting that he became bored and unchallenged with it. He then decided to live on an island where he captured shipwrecked sailors and sent them, with only food, a knife, and hunting clothes, into the jungle. Three hours later, he would follow them to hunt and kill them. If they eluded him for three days, he would then let them go, but he has so far managed to kill them all. After explaining this, Zaroff then tells Rainsford that he will be the next person to be hunted.

Rainsford runs into the forest and climbs a tree. Zaroff finds him easily, but decides to play with him like a cat with a mouse. After the failed attempt, Rainsford builds a "Malay man trap" which injures Zaroff in the shoulder. Next he sets a tiger trap, which kills one of Zaroff's hounds. Finally, he sets a trap with his knife that kills Ivan, but not Zaroff. As the hounds approach, Rainsford jumps off a cliff into the ocean. Zaroff assumes Rainsford has killed himself and returns home. Rainsford is there, having swam around the island. Zaroff congratulates him on winning the "game," but Rainsford decides to fight him, and says "I'm still a beast at bay." The General accepts the fight, saying that the loser should be fed to the dogs and the victor would sleep in the master bed.

The story ends on somewhat of a cliffhanger, but it is implied that Rainsford won the fight, as it is mentioned that Rainsford "Had never slept in a better bed."

[edit] Adaptations

The story has been adapted for film numerous times. The most significant of these adaptations (and apparently the only one to use the original characters) was RKO's The Most Dangerous Game, released in 1932, having been shot (mostly at night) on sets used during the day for the "Skull Island" sequences of King Kong. The movie starred Joel McCrea as Rainsford (renamed "Robert" instead of "Sanger") and Leslie Banks as Zaroff, and added two other principal characters: Eve Trowbridge (Fay Wray) and Martin Trowbridge (Robert Armstrong), who are brother and sister (Wray and Armstrong were also starring in King Kong on the same sets during the day).

The story was also thrice produced as a radio play for the series Suspense, on 23 September 1943 with Orson Welles as Zaroff and Keenan Wynn as Rainsford, on 1 February 1945 with frequent Welles collaborator Joseph Cotten portraying Rainsford, and on 1 October 1947 for the CBS radio program Escape. In the first two of these productions, Rainsford narrates the story in retrospect as he waits in Zaroff's bedroom for the final confrontation.

A second movie adaptation, a remake of the 1932 movie, also produced by RKO was A Game of Death, released in 1945. Directed by Robert Wise at the very beginning of his long and distinguished directing career, the movie was regarded poorly. Footage from the original was recycled, and one actor from the original, Noble Johnson, was cast in the remake. In keeping with events of the time, A Game of Death changed Zaroff into "Erich Kreiger", a German Nazi, and was set in the aftermath of WWII. In 1956 a second official remake was made, Run for the Sun, starring Richard Widmark and Jane Greer.

Other versions include Bloodlust! (1961), The Woman Hunt (1973), Turkey Shoot (1982) and Surviving the Game (1994).[1]

[edit] Trivia

The Zodiac Killer, a serial killer active during the 1960s and 1970s and who was never caught, sent several cryptograms to San Francisco newspapers. One of the deciphered cryptograms included the phrase "man is the most dangerous animal of all".

[edit] Film adaptations

[edit] Works with a similar plot



Video Games


[edit] References

  1. ^ Stafford, Jeff "The Most Dangerous Game" (TCM article)
  2. ^ IMDB: Dollhouse "Target" [1]

[edit] External links

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