Man's Favorite Sport?
|Man's Favorite Sport?|
original theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Howard Hawks|
|Produced by||Howard Hawks|
|Written by||Pat Frank (story)
John Fenton Murray
|Music by||Henry Mancini|
|Edited by||Stuart Gilmore|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
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.
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 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
- James Westerfield as Policeman
- Norman Alden as John Screaming Eagle
- Forrest Lewis as Skaggs
- Regis Toomey as Bagley
- Tyler McVey as Customer Bush
- Kathie Browne as Marcia
Release and reviews
Upon its release on February 5, 1964, Man's 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 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." 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 couldn't remember what she was doing from one shot to the next. Her shots never matched".
- Box Office Information for Man's Favorite Sport? The Numbers. Retrieved May 19, 2013.
- IMDb: Man's Favorite Sport?, trivia
- "Big Rental Pictures of 1964", Variety, 6 January 1965 p 39.
- McCarthy, Todd. Howard Hawks : The Grey Fox of Hollywood. Grove Press. pp. 596, 602. ISBN 0-8021-1598-5.
- McBride, Joseph; Haskell, Molly. "Man's Favorite Sport? (Revisited)". Focus on Howard Hawks. Prentice-Hall, Inc. pp. 135–138. ISBN 0-13-384289-4.
- Wood, Robin. Howard Hawks. Doubleday & Company. p. 138. ISBN 0-8143-3276-5.
- Willis, Donald C. The Films of Howard Hawks. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 40. ISBN 0-8108-0860-9.
- Willis, Donald C. The Films of Howard Hawks. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. p. 208. ISBN 0-8108-0860-9.
- 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).