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Roger Willoughby is considered to be a leading expert on sports fishing. He's written books on the subject and is loved by his customers in the sporting goods department at Abercrombie and Fitch, where he works. There's only one problem however: he's never been fishing in his life. When the store owner enters him in a fishing contest, mayhem ensues. Written by
Major Battle in the War between the Sexes--Won by Director Hawks
Howard Hawks may not have invented the war between the sexes; but where comedic film-making is concerned, he was the Napoleon of the sub-genre. In such features as "I Was a Male War Bride" and "Man's Favorite Sport", he gave each side in the conflict its turn, always from the male point of view however; and in the process, as Alfred Hitchcock did with staging scenes where something was occurring other than the dialogue's exact subject, he brought a new intensity to developing and ongoing relationships, so vital to the creation of character. In "Man's Favorite Sport", a story about a man who has never fished in his life having to try to win a fishing tournament in order to save his job, he saw a fine opportunity for physical "lazzi" and active scenes; in between the three active scenes of angling and several hilarious misadventures with physical equipment including chairs, inflatable waders and a car-park locale misunderstanding, he also found time to have his writers write some equally memorable dialogue confrontations of many sorts. The cast in this well-liked and well-remembered comedy include veterans John Mcgyver as the boss, Roscoe Karnes and others as grizzled veteran anglers, Pretty Maria Perschy, Charlene Holt and Paula Prentiss as the women in the hero's life, talented Norma Alden as a hip, wisecracking but lovable Indian, and Rock Hudson as Roger Willoughby, the beleaguered junior exec. In the film's storyline, however, Hawks faced one impossibility: Roger Willoughby by never fishing had separated his scheme for making clients happy--by using consultants at various sites and departmental experts to supply information and teaching expertise--from his job, being the man who made the entire scheme work. Strictly speaking, as Paula Prentiss says, Roger is a phony; but this does no alter the workability of the scheme; and the climax--the fishing tournament's outcome, Roger's confessing to his boss and what happens afterward form an exciting, dialogue-rich and memorable conclusion to the side-splitting goings on. The problem Hudson faces--the distinction between theory and practice of the theory--is a bedeviling one in a nation many of whose academic tsars are heavy with inadequate theories and whose practitioners are light on results themselves. I highly recommend this classic for a study of Hawks' techniques as well as for anyone wanting a loud laugh of fifty any time. Add flashy titles, low- key music and crisp, clean sets and a knockout comedy performance by all concerned, especially Paula Prentiss, and this film becomes an instant US classic satire.
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