Ball of Fire

Ball of Fire

4.3 3
Director: Howard Hawks

Cast: Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Oscar Homolka

     
 

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Ball of Fire is a delightful retelling (by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett) of the "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" legend -- though strictly for grownups. Gary Cooper is the youngest of eight bookish professors authoring an encyclopedia. They find a perfect "research associate" in the curvaceous form of stripteaser Barbara Stanwyck, who (chastely) hides on…  See more details below

Overview

Ball of Fire is a delightful retelling (by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett) of the "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" legend -- though strictly for grownups. Gary Cooper is the youngest of eight bookish professors authoring an encyclopedia. They find a perfect "research associate" in the curvaceous form of stripteaser Barbara Stanwyck, who (chastely) hides on the professors' domicile to escape her gangster boyfriend (Dana Andrews). As Stanwyck interprets various slang expression, she and the professors grow quite fond of one another; she brings out their sentimental sides, while they revive her essential decency. Naturally, Cooper is the one most smitten, though he hides his true feelings until the inevitable clinch. When gangster Andrews and his torpedo Dan Duryea show up to claim Stanwyck (Andrews wants to marry her so she can't testify against him), the professors save the day and it is Cooper who ends up with the beautiful Stanwyck. For the record, two of the "ancient" professors are Richard Haydn and O.Z. Whitehead, still in their mid-thirties (the others are S.Z. Sakall, Tully Marshall, Oscar Homolka, Leonid Kinskey and Aubrey Mather). Producer Sam Goldwyn later remade Ball of Fire as a Danny Kaye musical, A Song is Born (1948).

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
This broad, farcical burlesque on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs features Barbara Stanwyck (in a part originally considered for Ginger Rogers) as a stripper who hides out with a group of professors when she's being chased by gangsters. The professors are compiling a dictionary, and she helps them with slang and other matters. Gary Cooper as a dorky professor is something of a stretch, but the entire movie specializes in absurdity. This slapstick comedy was co-written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett, based on a story that Wilder had co-written much earlier, in Germany. Producer Samuel Goldwyn wanted Wilder to do the screenplay, a request that set off a fascinating sequence of events. Wilder and his writing partner Charles Brackett were under contract to Paramount Pictures, and when he requested to borrow them, the studio replied that they didn't loan out writers, only actors and occasionally directors. Samuel Goldwyn, however, had Gary Cooper under contract, and Paramount had been trying to come up with a leading man for its planned adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's book For Whom The Bell Tolls; Cooper seemed perfect for the role. A deal was worked out by which Goldwyn got the services of Wilder and Brackett, and Paramount got Gary Cooper. Ball of Fire, directed by Howard Hawks, turned out to be a huge box-office and critical hit, garnering three Oscar nominations, including one for Wilder. A year later, he began his Hollywood directorial career, in which he would gain fame for such witty comedies as Some Like It Hot. Hawks was only at the midpoint of a directorial career that ran from 1926 to 1970.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/25/2012
UPC:
8809116457010
Original Release:
1941
Source:
Imports

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Gary Cooper Prof. Bertram Potts
Barbara Stanwyck Sugarpuss O'Shea
Oscar Homolka Prof. Gurkakoff
Dana Andrews Joe Lilac
Dan Duryea Duke Pastrami
S.Z. Sakall Prof. Magenbruch
Henry Travers Prof. Jerome
Tully Marshall Prof. Robinson
Leonid Kinskey Prof. Quintana
Richard Haydn Prof. Oddly
Aubrey Mather Prof. Peagram
Allen Jenkins Garbage Man
Ralph Peters Asthma Anderson
Kathleen Howard Miss Bragg
Mary Field Miss Totten
Charles Lane Larsen, the Lawyer
Charles Arnt McNeary
Al Rhein Horseface
Geraldine Fissette
Gene Krupa Actor
Johnnie Morris Actor
Helen Seamon Actor
Elisha Cook Waiter
Eddie Foster Pinstripe
Aldrich Bowker Justice of the Peace
Addison Richards District Attorney
Pat West Bum
Ken Howell College Boy
Tommy Ryan Newsboy
Pat Flaherty Deputy
George Sherwood Deputy
Otto Hoffman Stage Doorman
George Barton Garbageman
Doria Caron Girl in Subway
Ken Christy Cop
Edward Clark Motor Court Proprietor
June Horne Nursemaid at Park
Ethelreda Leopold Nursemaid at Park
Lorraine Miller Girl in Cafe
Ed Mundy Spieler
Jack Perry Fighting Bum
Lee Phelps Cop
Gerald Pierce Delivery Boy
Dick Rush Cop
Francis Sayles Taxi Driver
Walter Shumway Garbageman
Tim Ryan Motor Cop
Will Lee Benny the Creep
Eddy Chandler Cop

Technical Credits
Howard Hawks Director
Charles Brackett Screenwriter
Howard Bristol Set Decoration/Design
McClure Capps Art Director
Perry Ferguson Art Director
Samuel Goldwyn Producer
Edith Head Costumes/Costume Designer
Julia Heron Set Decoration/Design
Gene Krupa Songwriter
Dan Mandell Editor
Thomas Monroe Original Story
Thomas T. Moulton Sound/Sound Designer
Alfred Newman Score Composer
Gregg Toland Cinematographer
William Tummel Asst. Director
Billy Wilder Screenwriter

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