A group of ivory-tower lexicographers realize they need to hear how real people talk, and end up helping a beautiful singer avoid police and escape from the Mob.

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(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. See more awards »
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Just before Christmas, Lee Leander is caught shoplifting. It is her third offense. She is prosecuted by John Sargent. He postpones the trial because it is hard to get a conviction at ... See full summary »

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Beulah Bondi
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Oskar Homolka ...
Prof. Gurkakoff (as Oscar Homolka)
...
...
Prof. Magenbruch
...
Prof. Robinson
Leonid Kinskey ...
Prof. Quintana
...
Prof. Oddly
Aubrey Mather ...
Prof. Peagram
...
Garbage Man
...
Joe Lilac
...
Duke Pastrami
Ralph Peters ...
Asthma Anderson
Kathleen Howard ...
Miss Bragg
Mary Field ...
Miss Totten
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Storyline

Sexy, wisecracking nightclub singer Sugarpuss O'Shea is a hot tomato who needs to be kept on ice: mobster boyfriend Joe Lilac is suspected of murder and Sugarpuss' testimony could put him away. Naive Professor Bertram Potts meets Miss O'Shea while researching an article on slang and in true romantic comedy fashion the two worlds collide. When Miss O'Shea hides out with Potts and his fellow professors, everyone learns something new: the professors how to cha-cha and Potts the meaning of "yum-yum"! Written by A.L.Beneteau <albl@inforamp.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"I LOVE HIM because he doesn't know how to kiss -- THE JERK!" See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 December 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Professor and the Burlesque Queen  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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. See more »

Goofs

In the car fleeing the nightclub: Sugarpuss O'Shea holds up Professor Potts's calling card to read it. Then the camera angle goes to a close-up of the card, with her fingers holding it around the four corners of the card, but the position of the fingers in the close-up shot do not at all match the way she is holding the card in the previous "long" shot. See more »

Quotes

Sugarpuss O'Shea: [Upon arriving late to Professor Potts's round-table discussion on slang, already in progress] Don't tell me the jive session has beat off without baby!
See more »

Connections

References The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Drum Boogie
(1941) (uncredited)
(Published as "Drumboogie")
Music and Lyrics by Roy Eldridge and Gene Krupa
Performed by Gene Krupa and His Orchestra
Sung by Barbara Stanwyck (dubbed by Martha Tilton)
Reprised by her and audience members
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Stanwyck wakes up a bunch of geniuses...and one in particular
17 December 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Barbara Stanwyck plays a wise-cracking entertainer who moves in with 8 professorial types in "Ball of Fire," a marvelous Billy Wilder film, directed by Howard Hawks, that is loosely based on Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs! Only Wilder could come up with an idea like this and make it shine.

And shine it does. Stanwyck is perfect as Sugarpuss O'Shea, whose boyfriend is a mobster sought after by the police. After a visit by Cooper, whose assignment is slang for the encyclopedia he and the others have been writing for only nine years, she drops in on him late at night, intending to hide out there so the police can't subpoena her testimony. Cooper falls for her while the other, older men develop paternalistic feelings for her.

Stanwyck is gorgeous and gets to show off that fabulous body and great legs as well as her flair for comedy. She's in stark contrast to Cooper as a man who's been in his ivory tower too long. Cooper was one of the handsomest movie stars ever. Tall and gangly, slow-talking, with a boyish smile that lights up his face, it's no wonder the heiress funding the encyclopedia is crazy about him and that Stanwyck finds herself drifting into love with him.

Dana Andrews has a good role as the mobster boyfriend, and one of his sidekicks is the always snarky Dan Duryea. The professors are all terrific. Highly entertaining fare from Billy Wilder, and the last film he ever wrote but didn't direct.


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