"Ball of Fire" (1941)
When I think of a fun, sweet, smart, and sassy film-I think immediately about Ball of Fire. It stars Barbara Stanywck, Gary Cooper, and an outstanding ensemble cast of professors.
Gary Cooper is Professor Bertram Potts, a grammarian who lives with seven other bachelor professors. Each professor is tasked to compile information for a human encyclopedia. Goodness, those were the days before Wikipedia and Google weren't they??!
Professor Potts is the youngest of these professors, who is researching modern American slang. As While venturing off to do some research at a local night club, Prof. Potts comes across a night club performer named "Sugarpuss" O'Shea. What a name, right?
Mayhem ensues when Sugarpuss realizes she has to hide away from the police because they want to question her about her mobster boyfriend named Joe Lilac played by the wonderful Dana Andrews.
Sugarpuss takes refuge with the professors and much to their dismay, she charms them-all of them! She teaches them how to Congo and teach Prof. Potts how to do "yum yum" (kissing hehe). I just found Cooper to be so charming and sweet and Stanwyck to be so sassy yet sweet-I loved seeing them together. It ends with Sugarpuss falling for the dashing Professors Potts and the professor being the unlikely hero! I found the supporting cast of the professors were equally as charming as Cooper and Stanwyck were.
- Even though they play two of the "old men" lexicographers, Leonid Kinskey (Prof. Quintana) and Richard Haydn (Prof. Oddly) were both under 40 years old when they made this movie.
- Henry Travers who plays one of the most famous angels in cinematic history as Clarence Odbody in It's a Wonderful Life. His role was that of Professor Jerome.
- The roles of the seven professors (besides Gary Cooper) were inspired by Disney's Seven Dwarfs. There is even a photograph showing the actors sitting in front of a Disney poster, each one in front of his corresponding dwarf: S.Z. Sakall - Dopey; Leonid Kinskey- Sneezy; Richard Haydn - Bashful; Henry Travers - Sleepy; Aubrey Mather - Happy;Tully Marshall - Grumpy, and Oskar Homolka - Doc.
- When Cooper is taking notes of the news boy's slang, the marquee on the theater across the street advertises Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, an inside joke that refers to the script's inspiration.
- Kathleen Howard (who played Ms. Bragg) was left with a fractured jaw when the punch that Stanwyck threw accidentally made contact. Stanwyck was reportedly mortified by the incident.
I hope you get the chance to see this film one day! It really is a ball of fun...I mean...fire!