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Most Dangerous Game / Gow the Headhunter [Blu-ray] [Import]

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Product Details

  • Format: NTSC, Import
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Flicker Alley
  • Release Date: July 3 2012
  • ASIN: B0080BFW4A

Product Description

The Most Dangerous Game and Gow The Headhunter (Cannibal Island) to Blu-ray for the first time in new digital editions produced by film historian David Shepard. The two features on this Blu-ray publication honor the extraordinary lives of filmmaking team Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack as their distant difficult and dangerous productions evolved from pure documentary (Grass) through semi-documentary (Chang) and semi-fiction (The Four Feathers) to their fictional apogee in King Kong

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
Full disclosure: I co-produced this BD and want to share info June 19 2012
By David Shepard - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
This isn't a sales pitch even though I will benefit if you buy it. It's just that the information from is so sparse that I think anyone potentially interested should know more before deciding whether or not to part with their hard-earned.

"The Most Dangerous Game" is obviously the engine pulling this train, and in my opinion, it's one of the outstanding action-adventure films from the early 1930s. Although it is often thought of as a place-holder for "King Kong," having been made on many of the same sets with many of the same cast and crew, it's a very notable achievement on its own. It has been available on a nice DVD from Criterion, as well as on public domain editions usually bootlegged from Criterion's copy; but the beautiful quality of Flicker Alley's Blu-Ray is likely to amaze you. We started with the original 35mm studio fine grain master, and the HD transfer was then restored from the original Radio Pictures tower to the end; not to the point where it no longer looks like it originated on nitrate film, but to the standard of a new 35mm print of the period. The sound was restored at Diapason sound services in Paris, and it came out so beautifully that they now use it as a before-and-after demonstration of what they are able to do. There is a new audio essay by Rick Jewell, author of "RKO Radio Pictures: A Titan Is Born" (University of California Press, 2012) which is packed with interesting information delivered in a comfortable, conversational style.

"Gow" is more an oddity than it is a polished film. It's the 1931 synthesis of four silent films based upon footage photographed between 1920 and 1922 in Samoa, Fiji, the Andaman Islands, the Solomon Islands and the New Hebrides; it was later retitled "Cannibal Island" and distributed as an exploitation film into the 1950s. Although the film was produced by a wealthy adventurer, Captain Salisbury, much of it was photographed by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, who were responsible for "The Most Dangerous Game" and "King Kong," and before that, for the silent documentary "Grass" and the story/documentary film "Chang." "Gow" is the seed of their filmmaking ethic: distant, difficult, and dangerous. The island people of "King Kong" owe quite a lot to the Melanesians that Cooper and Schoedsack observed with Salisbury. The 1931 version has a cringe-inducing commentary by another member of the Salisbury expedition, that we have offset by a really wonderful audio essay by Matthew Spriggs, Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology at the National University of Australia and author of "The Island Melanesians." Spriggs regards "Gow" as a treasure chest of long-gone peoples and practices and in contrast to the patronizing narration of 80+ years ago, he explains what it is we're really seeing. Salisbury's footage was processed in a small laboratory on board his yacht and although our HD transfer is from the original 35mm fine grain master, for the most part the image quality falls short of the best standards even of 1920; so "Gow" hardly benefits from the superior definition of Blu-Ray. Despite its technical deficiencies, it is fascinating; and yes, you really do see cannibals although they are not eating missionaries in these pictures.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The Best Version of a Classic Aug. 7 2012
By Mischief Auteur - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
First of all,in my review of the Flicker Alley Blu-ray,I will skip commenting on the second feature on this disc:"Gow the Headhunter(Cannibal Island)--I'm more interested in the primary feature:"The Most Dangerous Game".This pre-Code version of Richard Connell's often filmed and ripped-off story is the best here.But before you check out the homages and imitators like "Surviving the Game" or "Game of Death",be sure you check this one out first.I'll skip the synopsis for the sake of all who are already familiar with the storyline of the megalomaniacal Count Zaroff(wildly played by Leslie Banks with deranged flair)hunting Human quarry played by Joel McCrae and Fay Wray.The restoration of this film by Lobster Films is superb.The large absence of flecks and artifacts make the legacy of this film after more than 80 years,that much more great.Comparing this to the Criterion Collection DVD previously available,I would give a slight edge to this version.Go watch this movie and prepare to be wowed.Finally,for an even more fun-filled evening of classic movie viewing,may I also suggest watching the remake,"Run For the Sun" with Richard Widmark,Jane Greer and Trevor Howard and the Get Smart episode spoof,"The Island of the Darned" with Harold Gould as Hans Hunter.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An under estimate July 25 2012
By killer b - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
David Shepard told you this looks good. Ah, what a load of crap. IT LOOKS FABULOUS! Buy it now! Because you don't need me to tell you what this is about; end of review.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Casey62 - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
Based on the prize winning short story by Richard Connell, THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (RKO, 1932) is about a mad, Russian aristocrat who hunts humans on his remote island. Though the basic premise has been filmed many times, this faithful, first version is still considered the best.

The film was produced simultaneously with KING KONG, utilizing the same jungle sets and several of the same cast and crew members. Both films were realized by the producer/director team of Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, with Schoedsack and Irving Pichel sharing director credit on GAME. British stage actor Leslie Banks made his screen debut as the insane Count Zaroff, and plays him to the hilt with appropriate relish. Zaroff's prey includes the shipwrecked big game hunter, Bob Rainsford, well played by the underrated Joel McCrea. This was one of McCrea's first important hero roles which became his forte. The "prize" Zaroff hopes to win after the hunt is another shipwreck survivor, Eve Trowbridge, played charmingly by Fay Wray. The lovely actress, best known for her legendary performance in KING KONG, gives THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME something extra Connell's story lacked - sex appeal. This additional element makes Zaroff's distorted obsession with hunting particularly kinky.

THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME is a prime example of economical movie making of the highest calibre. At a brisk 63 minutes, the first two-thirds of the film is build-up to prepare us for the piece de resistance which is the climactic chase, and once it comes it really pays off. The sequence is one of the most thrilling of the early '30's, with Schoedsack's considerable skill at action pacing in full evidence. The use of various camera angles, close-ups, panning, dolly and tracking shots all combine for a breathless run through a fog shrouded swamp, a dense jungle, across chasms, and over a waterfall. But the one who takes center stage during this sequence is the film's composer, Max Steiner. Structured around the call of a hunting horn, the music acts both as narrative that recalls earlier scenes, and as a vibrantly pulsating force that drives the action persistently forward. Indeed, Steiner's expressive, exciting music for THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME already demonstrated the brilliance that was to fully emerge with his score for KING KONG.

While usually thought of as a dry run for Cooper and Schoedsack's tale of the lovestruck giant ape, THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME can easily stand on its own merits as a solid, well crafted action/horror/thriller.

GOW, THE HEADHUNTER (1931), is an interesting expeditionary film that was compiled from footage of the South Seas Islands shot in the early '20's. Produced by British adventurer Edward A. Salisbury, the film is noteworthy because Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack were among the cameramen. The cannibals they encountered bear certain similarities with Skull Island's natives in KING KONG, right down to the warpaint, costumes, and yes, skulls.

GOW is best known as an exploitation film, since it was re-issued that way in the '50's as CANNIBAL ISLAND with Mondo-style narration that was added in 1931 by William Peck, who was one of the original expedition members. The film is of historical value because it documents the customs and lifestyles of savage, primitive tribes that were beginning to fade off from the world scene.

Flicker Alley has released both THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME and GOW, THE HEADHUNTER as a double feature Blu-ray edition. Both films have been transferred off 35mm composite master positives. Of the two, GAME benefits the most from the boost to HD, and it surpasses Criterion's DVD. The image clarity is nothing short of spectacular for a film of this vintage, and the soundtrack is equally impressive, without a trace of hiss and delivering a full bodied sound that does Max Steiner's music score the justice it deserves. One can now hear textures in the music that weren't as clear before, and a better bass response without distortion. Considering the quality of its source, GOW still looks good in HD; there are some light lines and white specks, but these are minor and don't detract at all from the viewing experience.

GAME has an excellent commentary by USC professor and author, Rick Jewell, and GOW has a new audio essay provided by Matthew Spriggs, Professor of Archaeology at the Australian National University. While Spriggs' essay may be considered more "politically correct" than Peck's from 1931, I think his frequent referrals to what he finds offensive in Peck's narration is distracting and unnecessary. In fact, I prefer the '31 voice-over because it's in keeping with the context of the time the movie was made. In addition, part of what makes the film fascinating for me is the fact that someone who was actually on the expedition is relating his first-hand, honest reactions to what he witnessed.

Extra features include a slide show with excerpts from Kevin Brownlow's 1971 interview with Merian C. Cooper, a booklet containing notes by Cooper and an essay by Emerson College professor, Eric Schaefer.

This is yet another outstanding release from Flicker Alley and I gladly give it my highest recommendation.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Truly Astonishing. March 28 2014
By Chip Kaufmann - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
I have had a number of copies of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME over the years but this is by far and away the best that I have ever seen and easily the best that I have ever heard. This clearly demonstrates how much Max Steiner's score contributes to the film just as it would for KING KONG. The opening hunting horn call now sounds more mournful than ever and the strings have real bite. The picture quality, as commented on elsewhere, has a vividness that not even the recent Criterion DVD can match. The booklet and commentary provide a wealth of background information including the fact that Leslie Banks (who looks like a 1930s version of Kenneth Brannagh) was injured fighting in World War I and that his scar was real. However since THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME is well covered in a number of reviews here and elsewhere, it 's Edward A. Salisbury's GOW THE HEADHUNTER that I really want to focus on.

I already knew about Merian C. Cooper's and Ernest B. Schoedsack's careers as cameramen and documentary filmmakers before they made KING KONG. I have the Milestone DVD versions of GRASS and CHANG and still consider GRASS to be one of the most remarkable pieces of documentary filmmaking that I have ever seen. It therefore comes as no surprise that they were cameramen on the California born Salisbury's sojourns to the South Sea Islands in the early 1920s to make a visual record of Native life there. Their experiences assisting principal cameraman Thomas Middleton in shooting the various tribes they encountered would serve them well when they set out to make GRASS and CHANG. It also helped to bring a sense of visual excitement to GAME & KONG. Some of that sense would show up later in SHE (the journey to the Lost City) and even in DR CYCLOPS (the scenes of the tiny people in the jungle).

I've always enjoyed the documentary style travelogue films of the the silent era starting with NANOOK OF THE NORTH. I have many of the titles in Milestone Films' AGE OF DISCOVERY series including Ernest Shackelton's Endurance saga and Edward S. Curtis' remarkable IN THE LAND OF THE HEADHUNTERS. GOW however was amazing. Not only for the fascinating subject matter of a vanishing savage culture but for the quality of the film itself considering its incredible history of reissues. This print is of the 1956 release which was retitled CANNIBAL ISLAND and the HD transfer looks better than one could possibly have hoped for. The 1931 narration by crew member William Peck is of greater historical value for capturing the prevailing attitudes of the day than it is for a description of the events taking place. The modern commentary by Matthew Spriggs helps to accurately date and relate what is going on. A truly astonishing release!

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