By Richard Winters
My Rating: 2 out of 10
4-Word Review: Winning a fishing contest.
Roger Willoughby (Rock Hudson) works at a sporting goods department store and uses the information he overhears from his customers to become an ‘expert’ at fishing and best-selling author on the subject despite never having done it himself. Things unravel when his boss (John McGiver) enters him into a fishing contest and he must use the help of beautiful brunette Abigail Page (Paula Prentiss) to show him the techniques and save his reputation.
Billed as another screwball comedy much in the same vein as Howard Hawk’s classic Bringing Up Baby. However, this film doesn’t even come close to that one. It is extremely slow and the comedy bits are thrown in with a haphazard style. The pacing is none existent and the plot is far-fetched and contrived. I was willing to forgive it a little figuring that by the second half things would kick-in, but it never does. The jokes are simplistic and unimaginative. I found none of it to be funny and mainly strained and labored. With the slight exception of the scene involving Roger’s inflatable wading pants I didn’t find any of it to be even engaging. Roger’s attempts at fishing are particularly disappointing as this scenario could have been played up a lot more.
Hudson is weak as the lead. His voice always has a hollow tone and his delivery is wooden. Cary Grant would have been a much better choice and the film could have been a lot funnier with his presence. When Grant became irritated it was always amusing, but with Hudson it comes off as forced and boring.
Paula Prentiss is the best thing about the movie. Many fans agree that this is her best performance of her career. She has a nice free-form style to her delivery and avoids having that stiff drama school touch. I liked the gaze of her brown eyes and at times it reminded me a lot of Karen Black’s. Her younger, more relaxed presence helps compensate against Hudson’s stiff older one. I’m surprised her career fizzled in the 70’s as she has an interesting and unique style that I would have liked to have seen more of. Her sparing with Hudson is the only thing that gives this film any energy. However, having them end up falling in love was formulaic and forced. The two really didn’t have the right chemistry and showing them not getting along, or getting on each other’s nerves was more entertaining.
My Rating: 2 out of 10
Released: January 29, 1964
Runtime: 2Hours 1Minute
Rated NR (Not Rated)
Director: Howard Hawks
Available: VHS, DVD