The Most Dangerous Game


ANNOUNCER: Worried about the price of butter and eggs? Fed up with the housing 
shortage? Want to get away from it all?

2ND ANNOUNCER: CBS offers you -- Escape! 

MUSIC: Night on Bald Mountain

ANNOUNCER: You are alone and unarmed in the green hell of a Caribbean jungle. 
You're being trailed by a pack of fiercely hungry dogs -- and a mad hunter 
armed for the kill. A mad hunter who believes that you, a human being, are the 
most dangerous game. 

2ND ANNOUNCER: The Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations 
present "Escape" -- produced by William N. Robson and directed tonight by 
Richard Sandville. Escape -- carefully planned to free you from the four walls 
of today, free you for a half hour of high adventure. 


ANNOUNCER: Tonight, we escape to an island in the Caribbean and the weird 
sportsmanship of a madman, as Richard Connell tells it in his unforgettable 
story "The Most Dangerous Game."


RAINSFORD (narrates): My name is Rainsford. You may have heard of me. I make 
my living hunting big game for many of the major museums of the world. Guiding
parties of sportsmen on safari in Africa, Tibet, and South America. Perhaps 
you've had occasion to run across some of my books. But even if you have, 
there's one incident you won't find described in them. The full story of my 
most terrible hunt. ... It all began on board a private yacht en route to Rio. 
Whitney, my host, and I were smoking our pipes on deck ...


RAINSFORD (narrates):  ... lounging back in steamer chairs, enjoying the 
sensuous drowsiness of the warm night.


WHITNEY: Ah, good dinner, eh?

RAINSFORD: Excellent. (lets out his breath) Afraid I ate too much, though.

WHITNEY: Care for some, uh, gin-rummy? 

RAINSFORD: Oh, no, I don't care to move.

WHITNEY: All right. Er... there's a rather large island off there to the right 
somewhere. It's, uh, something of a mystery.

RAINSFORD: Really? Oh, I didn't know. What island is it?

WHITNEY: The old charts call it Ship Trap Island. Suggestive name, isn't it? 
Sailors have a curious dread of the place. Some superstition ...

RAINSFORD: Hmm, I - I can't see it. 

WHITNEY: Well, you have good eyes, but even you can't see four miles or so 
through a moonless Caribbean night.

RAINSFORD: No, not even four yards. It is dark, isn't it? 

WHITNEY: It'll be light enough in Rio. Oh, by the way. Hope the guns come from 
Purdey's. We should have some good jaguar hunting up the Amazon. Great sport 

RAINSFORD: Best in the world. 

WHITNEY: Yes, for the hunter, not for the jaguar. 

RAINSFORD: Oh, why not? They've no understanding.

WHITNEY: Ah, even so. I rather think they understand one thing. Fear. The fear 
of pain, the fear of death. 

RAINSFORD: Huh? Oh, rot, Whitney. Who cares how the jaguar feels?

WHITNEY: Perhaps the jaguar does.

RAINSFORD (chuckles): Oh, you're a big game hunter, not a philosopher. Look, 
the world is made up of two classes: the hunter, the hunted. We're lucky 
enough to be the hunters. You think we passed that island yet?

WHITNEY: Can't tell in the dark. I hope so.


WHITNEY: Oh, the place has a reputation -- a bad one.

RAINSFORD: Cannibals?

WHITNEY: Ah, hardly. Even cannibals wouldn't live in such an isolated spot. 
But it's gotten into sailors' legend somehow. Did you notice? The crew seemed 
jumpy today.

RAINSFORD: Yeh, they were a bit strange now that you mention it.

WHITNEY: Yes, it's a sort of dread, a kind of mental chill. I'll be hanged if 
I haven't felt it myself.

RAINSFORD (scoffs): Oh, pure imagination. Why, one superstitious sailor can 
infect a whole ship's company with his fear.

WHITNEY: Mmm, maybe. Though sometimes sailors have an extra sense which tells 
them when they're in danger. Well... (laughs) Enough of that. I - I think I'll 
turn in.

RAINSFORD: I'm not sleepy. I'll just have another pipe.

WHITNEY (fading): Good night, then. See you in the morning.

RAINSFORD: Yes, good night, Whitney. 


RAINSFORD (narrates): It was very dark, so dark I could have slept without 
closing my eyes. The night would have been my eyelids. I puffed at my pipe, 
got drowsy. 


RAINSFORD (narrates): Then I was wide awake ... 


RAINSFORD (narrates): A gun ... out there in the water ... a gun. 


RAINSFORD (narrates): I sprang to the rail, strained my eyes in the direction 
of those shots, but I couldn't see a thing. I leaped up on the rail to get 
better elevation and my pipe, striking the rope, was knocked out of my mouth. 
I lunged for it and tight fingers closed around my heart as I realized I'd 
reached too far and lost my balance. (screams)


RAINSFORD (narrates): The blood-warm waters of the Caribbean closed over my 


RAINSFORD (narrates): When I came to the surface, the wash from the speeding 
yacht slapped salt water into my mouth, making me gag and strangling me. I 
coughed and spat it out and found my voice.

RAINSFORD (shouts): Help! Help! Help!

RAINSFORD (narrates): The lights from the boat moved steadily away. They 
quickly became faint fireflies. And then ... they were blotted out by the 


RAINSFORD (narrates): I struggled out of my clothes and turned to the 
direction from which I'd heard those shots. I began swimming -- slowly, 
conserving my strength. 


RAINSFORD (narrates): For an endless time I fought the sea. Then I began to 
count my strokes, thought I could possibly do another hundred before--


RAINSFORD (narrates): Someone was shooting game! Almost at my very elbow it 
seemed. Gaining fresh vitality, I swam toward the sound. Then I was in the
breakers. In another moment I was dragging myself from the swirling waters, 
pulling myself hand over hand onto the narrow beach. Gasping, panting for 
breath, I saw that the dense jungle came down from the edge of the cliff and I 
was on land, on blessed land. Safe on the soft warm sand.


RAINSFORD (narrates): I awoke late in the afternoon, a sharp hunger picking at 
me. As I slowly came to my feet, I saw, not far from where I'd been lying, 
signs of a terrible struggle in the underbrush that sloped so sharply to the 
beach. Some wounded thing, evidently a large animal, had thrashed about there 
in its death fright. Almost at my feet was a small glittering object, an empty 
cartridge, from a .22. That was odd. The hunter had had his nerve to tackle a 
large brute with so small a gun. I examined the ground closely and found what 
I'd hoped for -- the print of hunting boots. They pointed up toward a recess 
in the cliff. And I hurried quickly after them for night was beginning to 
settle on the island. 


RAINSFORD (narrates): It was already dark when I came upon it. First, I 
thought it was a village -- there were so many lights. But as I came closer, I 
saw that all the lights were in one building, a chateau on a high bluff. In a 
few moments my bare feet were padding up stone steps. And I stood in front of 
the massive oaken door. 


RAINSFORD: Good evening. Please, don't be alarmed. There's no need for that 
gun. I'm no robber. I-i-it sounds silly but... I fell off a yacht. My name is 
Sanger Rainsford of New York City. 


RAINSFORD (narrates): He was certainly not alarmed by me, this giant who stood 
facing me. The revolver in his hand continued to point steadily at my chest. 
And the man behind it was solidly built and black-bearded to the waist. And 
silent. He waved me in with the gun and closed the door behind me. 


RAINSFORD (narrates): I was in a huge hall but there was no time to look 
around. Another man was coming down the broad marble stairs. An erect slender 
man in evening clothes. I stepped toward him. 

RAINSFORD: I've, uh, just been explaining to this chap that I've had an 
accident. My name is Sanger Rainsford.

ZAROFF: It's a great pleasure and honor to welcome Mr. Rainsford, the 
celebrated hunter, to my home. 

RAINSFORD (surprised to be recognized): Well! Thank you. 

ZAROFF: I've read your book on hunting snow leopards in Tibet. I'm General 

RAINSFORD: Believe me, General, I'm very happy to see you.

ZAROFF: All right, Ivan, you can put down that gun. This gentleman is a guest. 
(to Rainsford) Ivan is an incredibly strong fellow but he has the misfortune 
to be a mute. A simple thing but a bit of a savage. 

RAINSFORD: I'm even happy to see him.

ZAROFF: Come, we should not be chatting here. You want clothes, food, rest. 
You shall have them. This is a most restful spot.

RAINSFORD: I - I can't tell you how grateful I am.

ZAROFF: It is my pleasure. Follow Ivan if you please, Mr. Rainsford. I was 
about to have my dinner but it can wait. I think my clothes will fit you. 


RAINSFORD (narrates): I followed the man into a huge beam-ceilinged bedroom 
with a canopy bed large enough for six men. Ivan silently laid out an evening 
suit. As I put it on, I noticed it came from a London tailor. Hm. And 
Whitney'd called this place too isolated, even for cannibals. I went 
downstairs and sat down opposite Zaroff in a dining room that suggested a 
baronial hall of feudal times. The food was excellent.


ZAROFF: Perhaps you were surprised that I recognized your name. But I read all 
books on hunting published in English, French and Russian. I have but one 
passion in life and that is the hunt. 

RAINSFORD: Why, I noticed you have some wonderful heads here. That Cape 
Buffalo over there is the largest I've ever seen. 

ZAROFF: Oh, that fellow, yes. He charged me, threw me against a tree, 
fractured my skull. But I got the brute.

RAINSFORD: Hm. I've always thought the Cape Buffalo the most dangerous of all 
big game.

ZAROFF: No. The Cape Buffalo is not the most dangerous.


ZAROFF: Here in my preserve on this island, I hunt more dangerous game. 

RAINSFORD: Why, is there big game on this island?

ZAROFF: The biggest.


ZAROFF: Oh, it is not here naturally. I had to stock the island.

RAINSFORD: Oh, what have you imported, General? Tigers?

ZAROFF: No. Hunting tigers ceased to interest me when I exhausted their 
possibilities. There is no thrill left in tigers, no real danger. I live for 
danger. Cigarette, Mr. Rainsford?


ZAROFF: We will have some capital hunting you and I. 

RAINSFORD: But what game?

ZAROFF: I'll tell you. You will be amused, I know. I think I may say in all 
modesty that I have done a rare thing. I have invented a new sensation. May I 
pour you another glass of port, sir?

RAINSFORD: Thank you.


ZAROFF: I have been a hunter all my life but, after many years of enjoyment, I 
found that the hunt no longer fascinated me. It had ceased to be what you call 
a sporting proposition. I always got my quarry. Always. And there is no 
greater bore than perfection.

RAINSFORD: Then you were a very good hunter, General. 

ZAROFF: No, no. I had merely discovered that the animal has nothing but his 
legs and his instincts. Instinct is no match for reason. When I realized this, 
it was a tragic moment for me. As I told you, I love to hunt. And then it came 
to me as an inspiration what I must do. 

RAINSFORD: And that was?

ZAROFF: I had to invent a new animal to hunt.

RAINSFORD: A new animal? Why, you're joking.

ZAROFF: I assure you I am not, sir. A new animal -- and so I found one. I 
bought this island, built this house, and here I do my hunting. The island is 
perfect for my purpose. There are jungles with a maze of trails in them, 
hills, swamps--

RAINSFORD: And the animal, General Zaroff?

ZAROFF: It supplies me with the most intense excitement of all. I never grow 
bored now for I have a quarry with which I can match my wits. An ideal quarry 
with courage, cunning and, above all, reason. 

RAINSFORD: But ... no animal can reason.

ZAROFF: My dear fellow, there is one that can.

RAINSFORD: I can't believe you're serious. Why, this's some grisly joke.

ZAROFF: Of course I'm serious. I'm speaking of hunting.

RAINSFORD: You're speaking of murder!

ZAROFF: Surely your experiences in the war--

RAINSFORD: Did not make me condone cold-blooded murder.

ZAROFF: I'll wager you forget your notions when you go hunting with me. Why, 
you've a genuine new thrill in store for you, Mr. Rainsford.

RAINSFORD: Thank you. I'm a hunter, not a murderer. 

ZAROFF: Oh, dear me, that unfortunate word again. But I-I hunt the scum of the 
earth: sailors from tramp ships, lascars, mongrels ...

RAINSFORD: Where do you get them?

ZAROFF: This island is called Ship Trap. There is a row of lights out there on 
the reef which indicate a channel where there is none, only rocks. I control 
the lights from my tower.

RAINSFORD: You wreck their ships and then you shoot down the men. 

ZAROFF: But I treat my visitors with every consideration. They get plenty of 
good food and exercise. They get into splendid physical condition. You shall 
see for yourself tomorrow. Would you like some more port, please?

RAINSFORD: What shall I see tomorrow? 

ZAROFF: We'll visit my training school. It's in the cellar. I have about a 
dozen there now. Sailors, inferior lot, I regret to say, more accustomed to 
the deck than the jungle. Ivan, we'll have our coffee now. Thick Turkish 
coffee, Mr. Rainsford, very good.


ZAROFF: Is your appetite quite gone?

RAINSFORD: No coffee, thank you.

ZAROFF: Just one, Ivan. (to Rainsford) It's a game, you see. I suggest to one 
of them that we go hunting. I give him three hours start. I am to follow, 
armed only with pistol of smallest caliber and range. My quarry eludes me for 
three whole days, he wins the game. If I find him, he loses. 

RAINSFORD: And if he refuses to be hunted?

ZAROFF: Oh, I give him the option. If he won't hunt, I turn him over to Ivan 
here. Ivan once served as official executioner to the Great White Czar and he 
has his own ideas of sport. Invariably, they choose the hunt. 

RAINSFORD: And if they win?

ZAROFF: To date, I have not lost. I don't wish you to think me a braggart. One 
almost did win. Eventually, I had to use the dogs.

RAINSFORD: The dogs?

ZAROFF: Yes. Just step over here to the window a moment, huh?


ZAROFF: I want you to see my courtyard. Go ahead, Mr. Rainsford, open the 
window, please. 


ZAROFF: I have a dozen, as you can see. 


ZAROFF: They are let out at seven every night. If anyone should try to get 
into my house -- or out of it ... well, it would be regrettable. And now I 
want to show you my new collection of heads. Will you come with me to the 

RAINSFORD: I - I hope you'll excuse me tonight. I'm really not feeling at all 

ZAROFF: Oh, I am sorry. You need a good restful night's sleep. Tomorrow, 
you'll feel like a new man and then we'll hunt, eh? I've one rather promising 

RAINSFORD (narrates): But I was already hurrying from the room and up the 
marble stairway. I heard him calling after me.

ZAROFF: Sorry you can't go with me tonight. I expect rather fair sport -- a 
big strong native from west coast of Africa. He looks resourceful.


RAINSFORD (narrates): The bed was good. I was tired but I didn't sleep. I 
didn't toss or turn. I didn't move. I just lay rigidly in one spot, my eyes on 
the ceiling. My arms tight against my sides. My breathing slow and heavy. My 
mind empty. Waiting, waiting. The inky black was just beginning to dissolve, a 
thin line of gray was just beginning to seep insidiously into my room... 


RAINSFORD (narrates): ... when Zaroff found his quarry. Then I suppose I 
slept. When I awoke, the sun's shadows were already slanting through my room. 
Must have been well after noon. I came down to find General Zaroff pouring 
himself a glass of brandy by the sideboard.


ZAROFF: Ah, Mr. Rainsford, feeling better, I trust?


ZAROFF: I wish I could say the same. No, I'm not well. Hunting was no good 
last night. He made a straight trail, offered no problems at all. 

RAINSFORD: General, I want to leave the island at once. 

ZAROFF: Mr. Rainsford ... tonight we will hunt. You and I.

RAINSFORD: No, General. I've told you, I will not hunt.

ZAROFF: I beg you to reconsider. My idea of sport is much more diverting than 

RAINSFORD: You ... you mean that...?

ZAROFF: Yes ... you and I. It's really an inspiration. A foeman worthy of my 
steel at last. Oh, you'll find this game worth playing, Rainsford. Your brain 
against mine. Your woodcraft against mine. Your strength and stamina against 
mine. Outdoor chess and the stake is not without value, eh? 

RAINSFORD: And if I win?

ZAROFF: If I do not find you by midnight of the third day, then I'm defeated. 
My sloop will place you on the mainland near a town. (beat) Oh, you can trust 
me. I give you my word as gentleman and as a sportsman. Of course, you in turn 
must agree to say nothing of your visit here. 

RAINSFORD: I'll agree to say nothing of the kind. 

ZAROFF: Well, in that case .... Why discuss it now? Three days from now we can 
chat about it over a bottle of Veuve Cliquot, unless .... And, listen,
Rainsford, Ivan will supply you with hunting clothes, food and knife. I 
suggest you wear moccasins. They leave a poorer trail. I suggest, too, you 
avoid the big swamp in the southeast corner of the island. There's quicksand 
there. And now you'll want to start, no doubt. I shall not follow until dusk. 
Hunting at night is so much more exciting than by day, don't you think, Mr. 
Rainsford? Good hunting.


RAINSFORD (narrates): I kept telling myself through tight teeth that I had to 
keep my head. Keep my head. My first idea had been to put distance between 
myself and Zaroff so I plunged into the jungle in a blind panic. Before long I 
shook it off and stopped. Straight flight was futile. It would only bring me 
out to the sea. Then I hit upon the idea of giving him a trail to follow. I 
would begin our dangerous game by playing the fox. 


RAINSFORD (narrates): For more than two hours I went through the trackless 
wilderness, executing a series of intricate loops, doubling again and again on 
my trail. Night found me leg-weary with hands and face lashed by the branches. 
I needed rest badly. And having played the fox, I decided now to play the cat. 
I climbed into the crotch of a huge tree. 


RAINSFORD (narrates): An apprehensive night crawled slowly by like a wounded 
snake. Then at dawning a startled bird suddenly screamed ...


RAINSFORD (narrates): ... and I flattened against a bough. Through a screen of 
leaves as thick as tapestry, I saw the General. He came slowly, his eyes fixed 
on the ground. Almost beneath my tree, he paused and went down on one knee, 
studying the ground. I would have gone for him, leaping the way a panther does 
-- except for the small automatic in his right hand. After a seeming endless 
time, he came back to his feet. His eyes left the ground and traveled inch by
inch up the tree. I froze. Every muscle tensed for a spring. And the hunter's 
eyes stopped just before they reached the limb on which I lay. A slow smile 
spread over his brown face. 


ZAROFF: Oh, Rainsford, where can you have gone? Wherever are you, you clever 
dog? I think we must go home and lie down a bit to think this over.

RAINSFORD (narrates): The pent-up air burst hotly from my lungs as he turned 
back and disappeared. So, the General was playing with me. Was saving me for 
another's day's sport. Zaroff was the cat and I was the mouse. In that moment 
I knew the real meaning of terror. I slipped from the tree and set off into 
the woods. I'd only gone a few hundred yards when I found a huge dead tree 
leaning against a smaller living one. I pulled my knife from its sheath and 
set to work. When the job was finished, I threw myself down behind a log a 
hundred feet away. How long I waited, I don't know. It seemed like days. It 
was probably only a few hours. Then he was coming again with the sureness of a 
bloodhound. Nothing, nothing escaped those searching black eyes, no crushed 
blade of grass, no bent twig, no mark however faint in the moss. He was so 
intent on his stalking, he was upon the thing before saw it, his foot touching 
the protruding branch that was the trigger. 


RAINSFORD (narrates): The dead tree delicately adjusted to rest on the cut 
living one crashed heavily to the earth. And I waited yet another moment, not 
daring to look up and see if it really had done its work. 

ZAROFF (laughing with delight): Rainsford! If you are within the sound of my 
voice, let me congratulate you! There aren't many men who know how to make a 
Malay man-catcher! I am a lucky man, Rainsford! My reflexes are still good! 
Did you see me spring back even while it was falling? Rainsford, can you hear 
me? You are proving interesting! I'm going back now to have my wound dressed!
Don't be alarmed -- it's only a slight one! I shall be back! I shall be back!


RAINSFORD (narrates): It was dark and I'd been going for hours. The vegetation 
became ranker, insects were biting me savagely, then when mud began sucking 
viciously at my feet like giant leeches, I knew where I was -- about to enter 
the dense swamp with its quicksand. However, the softness of the earth gave me 
an idea. I stepped back about a dozen paces out of the quicksand and began to 


RAINSFORD (narrates): When the pit was above my shoulders, I climbed out. And, 
from some hard saplings, I cut stakes, sharpening them to a fine point. I 
planted the stakes at the bottom of the pit with their points up. With flying 
fingers I wove a rough carpet of weeds and branches and, with it, I covered 
the mouth of the pit. Then, wet with sweat and aching with tiredness, I 
crouched behind the stump of a lightning-blasted tree. I heard the padding 
sound of feet on the soft earth. I knew he was coming. The night wind brought 
me the perfume of the General's black cigarette. Though I could see nothing, 
it seemed to me that he was coming with unusual swiftness, that he was not 
feeling his way along foot by foot. In one brief moment, I lived an entire 
year. Then I heard the sharp crackle of breaking branches, the cover of the 
pit gave way. 


ZAROFF: Ah, you've done well, Rainsford! Very well! Where did you get the 
time? Your Burmese tiger pit has claimed one of my best dogs! And so you score 
again! I must see what you can do now against my whole pack!


RAINSFORD (narrates): He went away again. But I just lay there in the swamp 
that night. 


RAINSFORD (narrates): At daybreak, I was awakened by a distant sound -- faint, 
wavering. The baying of a pack of hounds. I went up into a tree. Down a water 
course, not a quarter of a mile away, I could see the bush moving. I strained 
my eyes and saw the lean figure of General Zaroff. Just ahead of him, I made 
out the gigantic Ivan holding the pack in leash. I prepared for the native 
trick I'd learned in Uganda. I slipped from the tree, caught hold of a 
springy young sapling and to it fastened my knife, its blade pointing down the 
trail. With a bit of wild grape vine, I tied back the sapling and ran for my 
life. The hounds hit the fresh scent and raised their voices and I knew how an 
animal at bay must feel. Even as I ran, the clamor of the hounds suddenly 


RAINSFORD (narrates): And, with it, my heart stopped -- for that meant they'd 
reached the knife. I climbed excitedly up a tree and looked back and hope died 
in my brain. The General was still on his feet. Ivan, however, was not. The 
knife driven by the recoil of the springing tree had done its work. 


RAINSFORD (narrates): Then the dogs took up the cry again and I was on the 
ground once more. Nerve! Nerve! I panted the words over and over as I fled 
headlong. A blue gap showed through the trees dead ahead. I forced myself up 
on towards the gap and reached the sea. It lay twenty feet below me, rumbling 
and hissing. 


RAINSFORD (narrates): I stood a moment, poised over the edge. I heard the 
hounds. I knew it was the end. Then I leaped far out into the water. 


ZAROFF: Well, it's been a busy day, Adam. A busy day. Oh, down, Adam, down.
What's the matter, my boy? Hungry? All right, catch. 


ZAROFF: Eh, quite a day. Not perfect, of course. Two slight annoyances. One 
is, it will be difficult to replace Ivan. And the other, well, our quarry 
escaped us, didn't he, Adam? Then, of course, the American didn't really play 
the game. So we won't count it. We won't count it at all. All right, my boy. 
That's enough for now. 


ZAROFF: Out you go with the rest. Better luck another time!


ZAROFF (gasps): Rainsford!

RAINSFORD: Good evening.

ZAROFF: How did you get here?

RAINSFORD: I swam. I found that quicker than walking through the jungle.

ZAROFF: I congratulate you. You have won the game.

RAINSFORD: No, General.

ZAROFF: Yes, yes, of course you have.

RAINSFORD: I'm still a beast at bay. Get ready, General Zaroff. 

ZAROFF: I see. Splendid. One of us is to furnish a meal for the hounds. The 
other will sleep in this very excellent bed. Good, Rainsford. Good. En garde.


RAINSFORD (narrates): The General was right. Never before in my life had I 
slept in a better bed.


ANNOUNCER: Escape is produced by William N. Robson and was directed tonight by 
Richard Sandville. You have escaped tonight in the Richard Connell story "The 
Most Dangerous Game." Adapted for radio by Irving Ravitch with Paul Frees as 
Sanger Rainsford and Hans Conried as General Zaroff. The special musical score 
was conceived and conducted by Cy Feur.


2ND ANNOUNCER: Next week!

ANNOUNCER:  You're sitting at the throttle of a speeding locomotive, screaming 
around the curves of a mountain gorge. Racing against time with death at your 
shoulder. Next week, you're the engineer of the Yellow Mail. 

MUSIC: Night on Bald Mountain

ANNOUNCER: Next week CBS offers you Escape with Frank H. Spearman's exciting 
story of railroading, "The Run of the Yellow Mail." Until this same time next 
week then, good night. 

2ND ANNOUNCER: This is CBS, the Columbia Broadcasting System.


Orignally broadcast: 1 October 1947