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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Movie Review: "Man's Favorite Sport?" (1964)

Hello dears,

I watched like five films this week (I'm watching movies compulsively, because I calculated that I pretty much need to watch twenty films per month to reach my goal of 250 by the end of the year), and they were all decent/good but then I felt like tearing a film to shreds today so I chose Men's Favorite Sport? (1964) to review. And, oh, I realized I'd never reviewed a film from the 1960s for an SMR before.

Don't worry, I won't be too terribly mean. *cackles*

The poster: Uhm, why is Paula Prentiss sticking her tongue out in a totally pre-code way? NOT APPROPRIATE.

The plot:
In this entertaining 1960s comedy, Rock Hudson plays Roger Willoughby, a fishing gear salesman for Abercrombie & Fitch who's ordered by his boss to participate in a fishing competition. There's only one problem: Roger's never worked a rod and reel in his life! But he goes along with the charade, until he meets the beautiful Abigail Page (Paula Prentiss) ... and becomes involved in a sport of a very different kind. [from Netflix]

The starring players:

  • Rock Hudson as Roger Willoughby
  • Paula Prentiss as Abigail Page
  • Maria Perschy as Easy Mueller
  • John McGiver as William Cadwalader
The verdict:
★★ 1/2
So... well...

This film should have a lot going for it. It has Rock Hudson, who is one of the masters of 1960's fluff (you know, all the pictures he made with Doris Day, I simply adore them), and then Howard Hawks as the director. Even Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer did the music ("Moon River", if you're not familiar with these two brilliant people).

I really like John McGiver, too, he's one of my favorite character actors. He played the salesclerk at Tiffany's in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), and he also appeared on an episode of The Lucy Show. I had never heard of Paula Prentiss before, but apparently she had a decent career in the 1960's.

Anyway, I went into this hopefully for the latter mentioned reasons (minus Paula Prentiss, my never having heard of her made me entirely suspicious), but anyway, I'm just going to tell you now: it was really disappointing.

A lot of the problems start in the plot. I read in IMdb that this was supposed to be a kind of a tribute to the Pinnacle of Screwball Comedies, Bringing up Baby (1938) - which is a flawless film. You can see that in certain parts, Abby and Roger meet over a mixup with their cars, as did David and Susan in The Perfect Film, and there's also a scene in which Easy tears her dress and Roger must walk behind her to cover up the tear, like in Bringing up Baby. Whilst doing so, he calls out, "I'll be with you in a minute, Mr. Cadawalader!"

Well, that was very nice and all, but honestly you shouldn't even compare these two films in the same sentence. As I was saying, a lot of the faults fall in the plot, it's absolutely USELESS. I mean, how much can you really squeeze out of Rock Hudson learning to fish? I get that the point of screwball comedies - which I think this was supposed to be - is to take an ordinary situation and make it extraordinary by throwing in plenty of pratfalls, encouraged by the "Let's misbehave!" quality.  I love that about screwballs. But the thing is, it can be tricky to do it right, and I don't really think that this film got it right.

I really like Rock Hudson, he is one of my favorites, but I think he did a lot better with romantic comedies than the more physical comedy of a film like this. Still, I have to list him as one of the best things about this movie. (And I found it amusing that he works for "Abercrombie & Fitch", a camping store, whereas today  that brand is usually associated with a popular clothing store). And my first film with Paula Prentiss definitely didn't make me into a big fan of hers. I mean, she was okay - but her voice was really annoying because at random times she would just pick up a Southern accent, it was weird. I know that sounds petty and picky, but... and it didn't help her, either, that as an overall I just didn't like this film. But to her defense, she wears some very cute sixties outfits.

The script rambles on and on. Characters would just sit down and have a conversation about the most terribly boring things and you'd shut your eyes and wait for it to end. And then whereas the pratfalls were a little funny, they were still totally predictable. TOTALLY predictable. 

On the plus side, it's always nice to see Rock Hudson - and then Howard Hawks, directing too. The cheery, bright setting of San Francisco in the 1960's makes you just want to jump inside the movie screen, but those three things there - and oh, John McGiver - are about the highest points of the film.

The bottom line:
This is going to land up being a waste of your time, even if you really like Rock Hudson and/or Howard Hawks, so I suggest you skip this one. It's also way too long at two hours, and it's going to feel longer than that. I honestly thought it was never going to end! :/

Some photos:

Some trivia:
  • Cary Grant was actually offered the leading role in this and turned it down because he was 59 and Paula was 24. Now, you all know how much I love Cary, but good job on his part for turning this down! I usually believe any film can be made better with the addition of Cary Grant, but he's right, 59 and 24? That's totally ridiculous (not to say Cary wasn't still handsome at 59, it's just, you know, there are some limits...)
  • Filming began in late 1962 but this was not released until 1964

A movie tidbit:
Here's the whole film, because you know, this film really really needs to be online for all the world to watch and enjoy. (Yeah, I'm being sarcastic). 

Hey, you know, sometimes it's pretty fun to write a bad film review. :)

Till later!


Bette said...

Oooh... Sorry you didn't like this film. Doesn't sound too great to me. I hate it when you hope to enjoy a film and you think it's going to be great and then you can't wait to finish it! By the way, did you get the comment on the previous post you did? I added another one :-D


Rianna said...

Yeah, it was one of those films where I felt like I was going to fall asleep whilst watching it and was wide awake after it was done, lol! Yeah, I saw your comment and I just left you one on your blog. :)

Evy said...

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Evy aka uppish-whore

StanwyckFan said...

Loved this review, Rianna!! Seriously - so enjoyable. :D


Stephanie said...

I absolutely adore Rock Hudson and have seen most of his films and this is definitely not one of his better comedies! I blame it on Paula Prentiss who is one of the most annoying actress I've ever had to suffer through in my life. I wouldn't exactly call this a waste of time because there is definitely a few really funny scene worth watching but I wouldn't go into it expecting much

Rianna said...

Thanks, Natalie! I had fun pulling this film apart, lol. :)

Rianna said...

Yes, I've checked out your Rock Hudson Blog (I love it!). Rock Hudson is one of my favorites too and I agree this certainly isn't one of his better comedies. ("Pillow Talk" is my favorite of those). Paula Prentiss was terrible, I only liked some of her clothes. And though I didn't care for this much at all, there was a few scenes here and there enjoyable, like Rock trying to climb into Paula's car. :) Thanks for your comment!

R.C. said...

I tried to watch this not too far back, and I couldn't make it through. It was so awful. And I totally agree with you on Paula Prentiss's voice; it got on my nerve so bad. For me, voices mean a lot. If they get on my nerves, Heavens to Betsy, it'll take something of a miracle for me not to dislike him or her.

Great review. I agree with on you everything.

Rianna said...

I agree, I don't know how I made it through! lol. Voices mean a lot to me, too. If I like your voice, you're probably in with me pretty good, but if it annoys me, chances are I'll likely never watch anything with that person, lol. Petty I guess but true :) Thanks, I'm glad you liked the review!

Anonymous said...

Well girls,
Now for a male perspective! This is my favourite film ever! Perhaps not the best film ever, but being the first film I ever was allowed to go to on my own, aged just 14 (1964 on its release) I was lovesick for weeks! I adore Paula Prentiss. I think she is truly one of Hollywood's most underrated actresses and I am not alone in my opinion. I find the crazy ever-changing voice inflections fascinating and the scene where the 'sleeping pill' is used as a ruse to seduce Rock where she tries every trick in the book, from jaunty chat up lines to faux tears is a minor masterpiece. I've seen many favourable reviews of this movie, and on a site where she is so comprehensively dissed, what is a man to do! I have to stick up for my girl! PS.Contary to popular opinion and with due respect for Katherine Hepburn, (a fine actress) I think 'Bringing up Baby' though great at the time, was a younger Hawks self-conciously trying to impress with the fast-paced mayhem. 'Sport' is cleverer, more mature has plenty of sub-plot,fine performances from most of the cast (I love Norman Alden's Indian guide) and dare I say it Katherine is actually topped by Paula in the comedic department. -Sorry girls.

Rianna said...

Firstly, thanks for your input on this film, it's always nice to see different opinions of a movie! Though I can understand why this film would have a sentimental standing with you, I must admit, I thoroughly disagree with what you say. Paula Prentiss is a cute actress but she could NEVER be on the par of a legend like Katharine Hepburn. My jaw dropped when you wrote that Paula topped Katharine in the comedic department - I'm afraid that Paula couldn't top Katharine in any department! I don't have anything against fluffy actresses like Paula, I just don't think the comparison of her and a 4 time Oscar winner like Katharine Hepburn is fair to either of them. Paula couldn't make me chuckle once in this, and the sleeping pill scene wasn't anything special. To that note, Paula lacks comedic timing and threw several of her lines away that a good comedienne would have utilized. I also don't understand how you find 'Sport' mature at all. This film is immature down to its ridiculous plot (not as if the plot of 'Baby' isn't ridiculous, simply, as I said in the review, it's how you handle the plot) - there is a scene in this film where a bear riding a bike is supposed to give us laughs. The film lacks so much. That being said, however, I really enjoyed seeing what you thought of this film and I respect your opinion even if I don't agree with it! Each to their own, I suppose. Thanks for sharing.

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