88 user 43 critic

Ball of Fire (1941)

Approved | | Comedy, Romance | 9 January 1942 (USA)
A group of professors working on a new encyclopedia encounter a mouthy nightclub singer who is wanted by the police to help bring down her mob boss lover.



(screen play), (screen play) | 2 more credits »

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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Prof. Gurkakoff (as Oscar Homolka)
Garbage Man
Asthma Anderson
Mary Field ...


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


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


Comedy | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

9 January 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Professor and the Burlesque Queen  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Billy Wilder recalled that he wrote the first draft of "From A to Z" in German, sometime before he came to Hollywood, and that Thomas Monroe then helped "Americanize it." See more »


During the "Drum Boogie" sequence, the black jazz trumpet soloist Roy Eldridge disappears from the band between shots. See more »


Professor Bertram Potts: That man talked a living language; I embalmed some dead phrases.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: Once upon a time - in 1941 to be exact - there lived in a great, tall forest - called New York - eight men who were writing an encyclopedia.

They were so wise they knew everything: the depth of the oceans, and what makes a glowworm glow, and what tune Nero fiddles while Rome was burning.

But there was one thing about which they knew very little - as you will see . . . See more »


Remade as A Song Is Born (1948) See more »


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

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User Reviews

Great Cast, Dated-But-Fun Dialog
14 November 2005 | by See all my reviews

Wow, what a cast! Let's see, there's Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Richard Haydn, Oscar Homolka, Henry Travers, S.Z. Sakall, Tully Marshall, Dana Andrews, Allen Jenkins and more! Classic film fans know all these names.

What's more, it's a fun movie, fun to see and especially fun to hear. Stanwyck is her usual fascinating self, but in this movie it's the men - the seven old bachelors and the younger Cooper in the "club" - that are the most entertaining.

When you have directors and writers such as Howard Hawks and Billy Wilder behind the film, you know it's a winner.

Because the story dealt with a bunch of encyclopedia writers trying to find out the latest slang words, the dialog in here is really funny. The expressions of the day are dated and humorous and there are so many you can't count them all. Some are stupid; some are hilarious...which is what you get with most comedies anyway. Not every line hits the mark, but a lot do in this one.

Tack on some action and some romance and it's corny-but-cute film , entertaining all the way.

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