This isn't a sales pitch even though I will benefit if you buy it. It's just that the information from amazon.com 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.