AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
A Game of Death
Alternate Title: The Most Dangerous Game
Director: Robert Wise (Dir)
Release Date:   1945
Premiere Information:   New York opening: week of 23 Nov 1945
Production Date:   Feb--early-Mar 1945
Duration (in mins):   72
Duration (in feet):   6,486
Print this page
Display Movie Summary

Cast:   John Loder (Don Rainsford)  
    Audrey Long (Ellen Trowbridge)  
    Edgar Barrier (Eric Kreiger)  
    Russell Wade (Robert Trowbridge)  
    Russell Hicks (Whitney)  
    Jason Robards (Captain)  
    Gene Stutenroth (Pleshke)  
    Noble Johnson (Carib)  
    Robert Clarke (Helmsman)  
    Edmund Glover (Quartermaster)  
    Bruce Edwards (Collins)  
    Jimmy Jordan (Steward)  
    Vic Romito (Mongol)  
    Jimmy Dime (Bulgar)  

Summary: Lured too close to shore by misplaced channel lights, the yacht carrying noted big game hunter and author Don Rainsford hits a corral reef and sinks, throwing its passengers and crew into shark-infested waters. Rainsford, the sole survivor, swims ashore and makes his way to a mysterious-looking fortress. Inside, he is greeted by Eric Kreiger, the master of the house, and his servant Pleshke. Kreiger, a fervent hunter, recognizes Rainsford's name and insists that he join him and his guests for dinner. Escorted by Pleshke as he goes to change his wet clothes, Rainsford is puzzled by the bars on the windows. At dinner, after introducing Rainsford to his guests, Ellen Trowbridge and her brother Robert, Kreiger boasts that he bought the island as a hunting preserve and has stocked it with the most dangerous game in the world. After dinner, Ellen tells Rainsford of the disappearance of two other guests and warns him to be wary of Kreiger. As the clock strikes eleven, Kreiger sends his guests to bed, and later that night, Rainsford hears the sounds of dogs baying and a man screaming in the distance. Soon after, Ellen comes to Rainsford's room to ask for help in locating the missing Bob. Finding the door to Kreiger's trophy room unlocked, the two enter and discover the walls are lined with human skulls. Bob, who has unlocked the door, then joins them, and they descend a flight of stairs to a boathouse, arriving just in time to see Kreiger and his servants dock their boat and unload a dead body. The three retreat upstairs in horror, and Rainsford declares that Kreiger is homicidal, having been driven insane by being gored in the head during a hunting accident. Discovering that the windows in Ellen's room have no bars, Rainsford instructs Bob and Ellen to keep Kreiger and his men occupied while he sneaks into the jungle to lay some traps. The next morning, Pleshke becomes suspicious when Ellen delays him at breakfast, but by the time Kreiger goes to search Rainsford's room, Rainsford has slipped into bed and pretends to be asleep. Later, when Kreiger's scar begins to throb, he speaks of a hunt that night. Planning to lure Kreiger into the traps he planted, Rainsford pretends to condone his unique prey and asks to join the hunt. Encouraged by Rainsford's praise, Kreiger admits to moving the lights in the channel to lure ships onto the coral reefs and thus replenish the prey on the island. He then invites Rainsford to join the hunt for Bob. Soon after, Pleshke discovers Rainsford's dirty bedsheets and tells Kreiger that he has been deceived. As the clock strikes eleven that night, Kreiger posts his man-killing dog at the door to Rainsford's room, thus trapping him and thwarting his plan to protect Bob and capture Kreiger. With Rainsford imprisoned in the house, Kreiger begins to stalk Bob, slaying his prey with a well-aimed arrow. Meanwhile, at the house, Rainsford restrains the dog with a harness that he has improvised and runs to the boathouse with Ellen, arriving just as Kreiger returns with Bob's body as his prize. Hoping to lure Kreiger into his trap, Rainsford challenges him to a hunt, and Kreiger accepts, agreeing to free Rainsford if he is still alive at 5:10 a.m., the moment of sunrise. Ellen insists on accompanying Rainsford, and the two disappear into the jungle. After shrewdly avoiding Rainsford's trap, Kreiger trades in his bow and arrow for a high-powered rifle. When Ellen and Rainsford plunge into the mists of Fog Hollow to avoid the range of the rifle, Kreiger sends his dogs after them. The beasts pursue them through the swamps and to a cliff above the ocean. At 5:08, a dog lunges for Rainsford's throat and Kreiger shoots, sending man and beast over the cliff. After recapturing Ellen, Kreiger returns to the house and is playing the piano when the door opens and Rainsford enters. When Rainsford explains that the bullet hit the dog, Kreiger grants him his freedom. Rainsford refuses to leave, however, and announces that Kreiger is now his prey. Kreiger grabs a gun, and as the two struggle, Pleshke joins the fray. As Rainsford and Kreiger tumble behind a couch, the gun fires, wounding Kreiger. After Rainsford shoots Pleshke, he and Ellen run to the launch. Meanwhile, Kreiger struggles to his feet, shoulders his rifle and climbs to a window. While taking aim at the speeding boat, he collapses and falls to his death. 

Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Robert Wise (Dir)
  Doran Cox (Asst dir)
  Anthony Jowitt (Dial dir)
Producer: Herman Schlom (Prod)
  Sid Rogell (Exec prod)
Writer: Norman Houston (Scr)
Photography: J. Roy Hunt (Dir of photog)
  Willard Barth (2d cam)
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino (Art dir)
  Lucius Croxton (Art dir)
Film Editor: J. R. Whittredge (Ed)
Set Decoration: Darrell Silvera (Set dec)
  James Altweis (Set dec)
Costumes: Renie (Gowns)
Music: C. Bakaleinikoff (Mus dir)
  Paul Sawtell (Mus)
Sound: Phillip Mitchell (Rec)
  James G. Stewart (Re-rec)
Special Effects: Vernon L. Walker (Spec eff)
  Lynn Dunn (Spec eff)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the short story "The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Edward Connell in Collier's (19 Jan 1924).
Authors: Richard Connell

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. 23/11/1945 dd/mm/yyyy LP2

PCA NO: 10756
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

Genre: Horror
Subjects (Major): Castaways
Subjects (Minor): Animal traps
  Brothers and sisters

Note: The working title of this film was The Most Dangerous Game . According to a pre-production news item in HR , the film was originally to star John Loder and June Duprez, who were teamed in RKO's 1945 film The Brighton Strangler . Duprez was forced to drop out of the project because of a previous commitment to appear in the 1945 Twentieth Century-Fox film And Then There Were None . Although a HR production chart places Larry Wheat in the cast, his participation in the released film has not been confirmed.
       Other films based on Richard Edward Connell's short story are the 1932 RKO film The Most Dangerous Game , directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack and Irving Pichel and starring Joel McCrea and Fay Wray (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.2962) and the 1956 United Artists film Run for the Sun , directed by Roy Boulting and starring Richard Widmark and Jane Greer. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   1 Dec 1945.   
Daily Variety   23 Nov 45   p. 6.
Film Daily   28 Nov 45   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Jan 45   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Jan 45   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Jan 45   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Feb 45   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Feb 45   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Nov 45   p. 12.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   1 Dec 45   p. 2734.
New York Times   24 Nov 45   p. 22.
Variety   28 Nov 45   p. 10.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2017 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.