Man's Favorite Sport?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Man's Favorite Sport?
original theatrical release poster
Directed byHoward Hawks
Produced byHoward Hawks
Written byJohn Fenton Murray
Steve McNeil
Based onstory by Pat Frank
StarringRock Hudson
Paula Prentiss
Maria Perschy
Charlene Holt
Music byHenry Mancini
CinematographyRussell Harlan
Edited byStuart Gilmore
Gibralter Productions
Laurel Productions
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • January 29, 1964 (1964-01-29)
Running time
120 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$6,000,000[1]

Man's 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 an 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.[2]


Roger Willoughby is a well-known fishing expert who works as a salesman for Abercrombie & Fitch Co, at the time an elite outfitter of sporting and excursion goods, particularly noted for its expensive shotguns, fishing rods, fishing boats, and tents. Abigail Page is a brash and flighty public relations woman. Page is determined to secure Willoughby's participation in a prestigious fishing tournament, only to discover that Willoughby is a phony—he's never fished in his life.

By threatening to reveal his secret, Abigail forces Roger to go through with the tournament, and gives him a crash course in fishing in the days preceding it. 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.

"It'll be all over in a moment!" Faux fisherman Roger Willoughby (Rock Hudson) suffers at the hands of publicist Abigail Page (Paula Prentiss) in Howard Hawks's Man's Favorite Sport? (1964). Photo: Universal International 1964.



It was the first in a three picture deal Hawks signed with Paramount. In March 1962 Hawks reported John Fenton Murray was working on the script.[3] The story idea was based on a line in a magazine article Hawks had read about a fishing expert who had never been fishing.[4]

In July Hawks said the film would star Cary Grant and a French actress and that the other movies would be Bengal Tiger and Yukon Trail.[5] According to Hawks, Grant turned down the movie because he felt he was too old to appear opposite three young women.[6]

By November the stars were Rock Hudson and Paul Prentiss.[7] The second female lead, Maria Perschy, was a discovery of Hawks'.[4] Another newcomer was model Charlene Holt.[8]

Hawks called the film "as broad a comedy as has been filmed in many years. Yet it's believable."[9]

Filming took place in January 1963. Hawks said Hudson "tried hard and he worked hard and he did everything he could but Rock is not a comedian. And when you have visualized one person in it and you're trying to get that, it's an awful tough job to do it because you just don't come out right. And even then we ended up with a pretty good picture."[10]

Hawks liked Prentiss saying "she ought to be a big comedy star. I don't know what's the matter."[11]

Hawks said the film previewed successfully but Universal wanted twenty minutes cut out to enable an extra screening per day. He claims the film did not preview as well so Universal cut out another twenty minutes and that was the version they released.[12]


Box Office[edit]

The film was released on February 5, 1964, eventually grossing $6 million at the box office,[1], while earning $3,000,000 in US theatrical rentals.[13] It was the 24th highest grossing film of 1964.

Critical reception[edit]

The critics' reactions were somewhat tepid, particularly in comparison to Hawks' earlier works,[14] 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."[15]

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."[16]

Prentiss was especially praised for her performance. "Miss Prentiss slips ... agreeably into Katharine Hepburn's shoes. Her bass voice is comically imposing. She's more consciously malevolent/charming than Miss Hepburn in Baby. She's just terrible to Hudson and her outrageousness almost makes the movie half a good comedy."[17]

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."[16]

Hawks would later say: "Paula Prentiss was good, but she couldn't remember what she was doing from one shot to the next. Her shots never matched".[18]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Box Office Information for Man's Favorite Sport? The Numbers. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
  2. ^ IMDb: Man's Favorite Sport?, trivia
  3. ^ Shirley Jones Will Star With Guinness: Signs for Comedy in London; Sequel to 'Mouse' Announced Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 28 Mar 1962: C11
  4. ^ a b Hawks Still Eyeing Those Pretty Girls: Latest Discovery Is a Viennese Blonde Named Maria Perschy Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 27 Nov 1962: C12.
  5. ^ BY WAY OF REPORT: Howard Hawks' Future Trio--Other Items By A. H. WEILER. New York Times 8 July 1962: 73.
  6. ^ Hawks p 73
  7. ^ Plum for Paula; She's Rock's Leading Lady Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 6 Nov 1962: a4.
  8. ^ TV Actress Signed for Dr. Peale Film: Diana Hyland Wins Wife Role; Perkins to Do 'Fool Killer' Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 20 Mar 1963: C13.
  9. ^ Showmen Poll Led Again by Doris Day: Aldrich Picks Lollo, Ekberg; Hawks Plumps for Originals Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 3 Jan 1963: C7.
  10. ^ Hawks p 73
  11. ^ Hawks p 150
  12. ^ Hawks p 29-30
  13. ^ "Big Rental Pictures of 1964", Variety, 6 January 1965 p 39.
  14. ^ McCarthy, Todd. Howard Hawks : The Grey Fox of Hollywood. Grove Press. pp. 596, 602. ISBN 0-8021-1598-5.
  15. ^ McBride, Joseph; Haskell, Molly. "Man's Favorite Sport? (Revisited)". Focus on Howard Hawks. Prentice-Hall, Inc. pp. 135–138. ISBN 0-13-384289-4.
  16. ^ a b Wood, Robin. Howard Hawks. Doubleday & Company. p. 138. ISBN 0-8143-3276-5.
  17. ^ Willis, Donald C. The Films of Howard Hawks. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 40. ISBN 0-8108-0860-9.
  18. ^ Willis, Donald C. The Films of Howard Hawks. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 208. ISBN 0-8108-0860-9.

Further reading

  • Hawks, Howard (1982). Hawks on Hawks. Berkeley.
  • Quigley Publishing Company, Inc (2000). International Motion Picture Almanac, 71st Edition. Quigley Publishing Company, Inc. ISBN 0-900610-65-4.
  • Universal Pictures, Co., Inc (1963). Showman's Manual : Man's Favorite Sport?. Universal Pictures, Co., Inc. (Studio Pressbook).CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External links[edit]