DirectorHoward Hawks Music directorHenry Mancini Duration LanguageEnglish
Release dateJanuary 29, 1964 (1964-01-29) WriterPat Frank (story), John Fenton Murray, Steve McNeil CastRock Hudson (Roger Willoughby), Paula Prentiss (Abigail Page), Maria Perschy (Isolde 'Easy' Mueller), John McGiver (William Cadwalader), Charlene Holt (Tex Connors), Roscoe Karns (Major Phipps) Similar moviesRelated Howard Hawks movies
Salesman Roger (Rock Hudson) is revered for his ability to sell fishing supplies; hes even authored a book on the art of angling. So, when a fishing tournament comes up, his boss asks him to enter. Too bad he doesnt actually know the first thing about the sport, having never done it himself. Helping him with a crash course in rods and reels is the competitions publicist, Abby (Paula Prentiss), and her friend "Easy" (Maria Perschy) much to the consternation of Rogers fiancee.
Mans Favorite Sport? is a 1964 comedy film starring Rock Hudson and Paula Prentiss. Released by Universal Pictures, the movie was directed and produced by Howard Hawks.
Hawks intended this movie to be a homage to his own 1938 screwball classic Bringing Up Baby with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, and unsuccessfully tried to get the original stars to reprise their roles.
Rock Hudson is Roger Willoughby, a renowned fishing expert, who, unbeknownst to his friends, co-workers, or boss, has never cast a line in his life. One day, he crosses paths with Abigail Paige (Paula Prentiss), a sweetly annoying girl who has just badgered his boss into signing Roger up for an annual fishing tournament.
Roger Willoughby is a well-known fishing expert who works as a salesman for Abercrombie & Fitch Co. Abigail Page is a brash and flighty public relations woman. Page is determined to secure Willoughbys participation in a prestigious fishing tournament, only to discover that Willoughby is a phony—hes never fished in his life.
By threatening to reveal his secret, Abigail forces Roger to fake his way through the tournament. Willoughby proves himself to be supremely inept: he cannot fish, cannot set up a tent, cannot run or even board a motorboat. He cannot even swim, as he demonstrates by toppling or plunging straight to the lakebed each time he ventures to go fishing.
In the vein of the screwball genre, the dialog is fast and overlapping, the humor broad and slapstick, multiple levels of deception abound, and a decidedly adversarial relationship constantly teeters on the edge of romance.
Rock Hudson as Roger Willoughby
Paula Prentiss as Abigail Page
Maria Perschy as Isolde Easy Mueller
Charlene Holt as Tex
John McGiver as Cadwalader
Roscoe Karns as Major Phipps
Release and reviews
Upon its release on February 5, 1964, Mans Favorite Sport? performed acceptably but not exceptionally. The film grossed $6 million at the box office, earning $3,000,000 in US theatrical rentals. It was the 24th highest grossing film of 1964. The critics reactions were somewhat tepid, particularly in comparison to Hawks earlier works, though Molly Haskell wrote a glowing analysis of the picture seven years later in The Village Voice. Haskell admitted an indifference to the film in 1964, and that upon revisiting the film in 1971 she was "both delighted and deeply moved by the film—delighted by the grace and real humor with which the story was told, and moved by the reverberation of the whole substratum of meaning, of sexual antagonism, desire, and despair."
Hudson was given relatively sympathetic reviews for the difficult position of impersonating Cary Grant. Robin Wood notes: "It was cruel to make [Hudson] repeat the night-club scene from Bringing up Baby which Cary Grant brought off with such panache."
Prentiss was especially praised for her energetic performance—probably the best role of her career. "Miss Prentiss slips ... agreeably into Katharine Hepburns shoes. Her bass voice is comically imposing. Shes more consciously malevolent/charming than Miss Hepburn in Baby. Shes just terrible to Hudson and her outrageousness almost makes the movie half a good comedy." Robin Wood: "Paula Prentiss is—as always—very good, but at times one has the feeling that Hawks is importing a characterization on her instead of working with her." Hawks would later say: "Paula Prentiss was good, but she couldnt remember what she was doing from one shot to the next. Her shots never matched".