A Game of Death
A Game of Death

A GAME OF DEATH was a remake of an earlier RKO release, THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932). Although Wise wasn't too fond of doing remakes,
Edgar Barrier and John Loder

John Loder and Edgar Barrier

he did not want to give up the opportunity to learn more about filmmaking, especially in those early stages of his career:

"You don't learn when you're sitting at home. Everything you do should add to your repertoire, your knowledge of how to do things."*

Nevertheless, Wise became frustrated when he had to use shots of Great Danes in the swamps and jungles from the original. He described it as "somebody looking over my shoulders."* As a result, he would go on to make only one more remake: SO BIG, starring Jane Wyman and Sterling Hayden, in 1953.

Synopsis 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 Posterhunter, 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 boat house 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.

From the AFI Catalog of Feature Films

Wise Facts
  • The film is based on Richard Connell's story "The Most Dangerous Game."
  • Yet another film inspired by "The Most Dangerous Game" was made in 1956: RUN FOR THE SUN, starring Richard Widmark and Jane Greer.
  • Credits:72 min. RKO Radio Pictures; Distributed by: RKO Radio Pictures;  Directed by: Robert Wise;  Produced by: Herman Schlom;  Screenplay by: Norman Houston;  Edited by: J. R. Whittredge;  Director of Photography: J. Roy Hunt;  Music by: Paul Sawtell;  Production Design by: Albert S. D'Agostino & Lucius Croxton;  Sound by: Phillip Mitchell;  Gowns by: Renie.
    Russell Hicks 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), and Jimmy Dime (Bulgar)

    Photo Gallery
    Movie Clips
    Complete Credits


    1. Robert Wise On His Films, p. 74
    2. Robert Wise On His Films, p. 74

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