“I’m wondering what it would be like if I kissed you.”
Bestselling fishing expert Roger Willoughby (Rock Hudson) is asked by publicist Abigail Page (Paula Prentiss) to participate in a fishing contest. When Abigail discovers that Roger has never actually been fishing, she gives him private lessons, and finds herself falling hopelessly in love.
Howard Hawks’ final screwball comedy met with tepid reviews upon its release, and remains one of his lesser efforts: the premise is silly, the humor is inconsistent, and there isn’t much chemistry between Hudson and Prentiss. With that said, however, the movie benefits greatly from Prentiss’s energetic performance; indeed, although Peary doesn’t review Man’s Favorite Sport? in GFTFF, he gives it special attention in his Alternate Oscars book, where he votes for Prentiss’s performance as the best by any actress in 1964. Peary notes that Abigail “covers her insecurities by acting aggressively,” and that she “is her own worst enemy” — much like Geena Davis’s Muriel Pritchett in The Accidental Tourist (1988). Indeed, the two tall, lanky brunettes bear more than a passing resemblance to each other, given that Davis has suffered from a similar dearth of appropriate roles. Prentiss unfortunately never really found her niche in Hollywood, but this film remains one her finest on-screen triumphs, and is worth watching for this reason alone.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Prentiss’s performance — she’s always great fun to watch
- Hudson’s inflatable “waders” exploding underwater
- Some hilarious overlapping dialogue (Hawks’s trademark)
Yes. While it’s uneven, this cult film is redeemed by Prentiss’s stand-out performance, and improves upon repeat viewings.