Friday, November 30, 2012

Weekend Cinema Spotlight: Ball of Fire

Ball of Fire
"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.

Interesting tidbits: 
  • 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! 



  1. I haven't even heard of this to find it. I need something to keep me occupied while I am sick in bed and this sounds perfect! Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Thanks Bunny. I'll be adding this to my must see list ;0)
    I got all excited when I saw Christmas in Coneticutt was on the Christmas 24 channel, only to be disappointed when I discovered it was the remake with Kris Kristofferson, directed by Arnold Swarzenneger!
    I normally love Kris but I want to see the original first.
    Lisa x

  3. Oh I love this movie! It is so cute and has all of that fun slang. I did not know the little tidbit about the professors and their corresponding dwarf. I can totally see it now though.

  4. I really love this movie too, isn't there another version of this too, I don't remember if it's newer or older?

  5. This is one of my favorite movies! So cute and so much fun to watch!

    Trina-the movie was "remade" as a musical in 1948 (A Song is Born) starring Danny Kaye and Virginia Mayo. (Love that one too!)

  6. I have never heard of this film, but I have seen some promo pics of it, because I remember Barbara's bangs...which personally I'm not a fan of on her.

  7. This is the second time I've heard about this movie in the last few days, so clearly the universe is flashing a big neon sign in my direction that says I need to watch it! :)

    Wonderful summery of the plot, dear Bunny. You have this terrific way of making any film you describe sound like something I'd love to drop everything and watch right then and there.

    ♥ Jessica

  8. This movie sounds so cute!! I love Barbara. I've only seen a couple of her films (and of course, Thorn Birds). I just know this movie is right up my alley!

  9. PS. Not sure if I've already told you how much I adore your new header!


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