Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Most Dangerous Game - The Lost Trophy Room Scene

The Most Dangerous Game - Lost Trophies Found? 

King Kong (1933) and The Most Dangerous Game (1932) are the "fraternal twins" of classic adventure cinema.  Both of these RKO classics were filmed at the same time with many of the same cast and locations.  King Kong shot during the day and when  night fell, a large portion of the crew, including leading lady Fay Wray, resumed filming The Most Dangerous Game.   

Two of the most coveted lost cinematic film relics are the "Spider Pit" scene from King Kong (1933) and the expanded "Trophy Room" scene from The Most Dangerous Game (1932).  Both sequences were edited from their respective pictures because the preview audience found the content too horrific and began leaving the theater.

The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
Something is about to go bump in the night...

Little is known about the horrific trophy room images that caused the 1930s test audience to flee the theater.  The pickled head floating in the jar is still pretty shocking even today and that is still in the film!  This quote from Bruce Eder on the Criterion Collection DVD of The Most Dangerous Game paints the most vivid picture.

"The trophy room scenes were originally much longer: there were more heads in jars. But there was also an emaciated sailor, stuffed and mounted next to a tree where he was impaled by Zaroff's arrow, and another full-body figure stuffed, with the bodies of two of the hunting dogs mounted in a death grip."

Recently I found out that RKO made a remake of The Most Dangerous Game in 1945 called A Game of Death.

I find out that A Game of Death is available from the Amazon Prime Instant Video service.  Curious, but not really expecting anything special, I queued up the 1945 remake.

Watching A Game of Death is like watching the Spanish version of Dracula (1931) that used the same script and sets as the Bela Lugosi version.  The sets and story are similar, but the actors and direction are different.  Game of Death even recycles footage from The Most Dangerous Game such as Harold Lloyd's "killer" Great Danes and the shipwreck scene.

Robert Wise's set design crew seems to have dredged up as many props of the Most Dangerous Game as they could find.  Presumably, they were secured away in some dusty RKO studio warehouse for the last 13 years. 

Unfortunately, The iconic Centaur door knocker must have been lost or sold off, because it is replaced with this runner up in the creepy department.

The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

A Game of Death (1945)

However, the tapestry of the Centaur carrying off the maiden is on full display, just slightly updated to cover her nakedness.  The Hays Code was now in effect after all putting a stop to such licentious displays of nudity.

The Most Dangerous Game (1932)Whoa!  I'm feeling licentious!  I need the Hays Code! 

A Game of Death (1945)
Cover her up!  Phew!  I'm morally upright now!

While watching A Game of Death, I noticed some other props were saved and reused.

When the movie reaches the Trophy Room scene, Krieger's henchmen carries a shrouded body across the back of the set.  In the foreground is a trophy of a fallen man about to be torn apart by two dogs.  At this point I freeze the video.  Wait a minute...    

A Game of Death (1945)
This sure rings a bell for some reason...

 The sure looks like the description of a "full-body figure stuffed, with the bodies of two of the hunting dogs mounted in a death grip." 

I brought up my copy of The Most Dangerous Game.
The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
A brief glimpse of the Hunting Dog Attack trophy from the original film

This is where it gets interesting.  I found the same prop in the background.  While we don't have the footage with the direction, we can at least can see what the trophy looked like.

But what about the other trophy?  The man pinned to a tree with an arrow?  This may make an appearance on A Hame of Death as well...

A Game of Death (1945)
Could be the lost trophy "man pinned to the tree?"

Later on in A Game of Death's trophy room scene there is another trophy in the foreground obscured in shadows.  I increased the exposure in Photoshop so you can see it better.  There's no way to know for sure, but this is a fairly elaborate prop for the few seconds its on screen.  Could this be the lost trophy of the man pinned to the tree by an arrow?   


Anonymous said...

Any idea what ever happened to the tapestry? Would love to get my hands on that!

Ambassador said...

Does anyone have any idea if someone has manufactured replicas of the centaur door knocker from the '32 movie? I have searched the internet many times over the years hoping to find one.