82 user 42 critic

Ball of Fire (1941)

Passed | | Comedy, Romance | 2 December 1941 (USA)
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.



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

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Nominated for 4 Oscars. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Prof. Gurkakoff (as Oscar Homolka)
Prof. Magenbruch
Prof. Robinson
Prof. Quintana
Prof. Oddly
Prof. Peagram
Garbage Man
Joe Lilac
Duke Pastrami
Asthma Anderson
Miss Bragg
Mary Field ...
Miss Totten


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


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

2 December 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Professor and the Burlesque Queen  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Barbara Stanwyck co-starred with Fred MacMurray in a Lux Radio Theatre version of the story on June 1, 1942, and on August 16, 1951, the Hallmark Playhouse broadcast a version, starring Franchot Tone and Wendy Barrie. See more »


When Potts declares himself "mystified" at the slang he has heard, his arm changes position between shots. See more »


Professor Bertram Potts: Sugarpuss, uh, before you go, would you... would you, eh, yum me just once more?
See more »


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


Sweet Genevieve
(1869) (uncredited)
Music by Henry Tucker
Lyrics by George Cooper
Performed a cappella by the professors
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Ball of fun.
29 November 2001 | by (Huntington, NY) – See all my reviews

Basically, this is a gangster version of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" Here "Snow White" is a night club singer faultlessly played by Barbara Stanwyck. The "evil witch" is the local police, out to haul her in because of tie-in to a gangster (Dana Andrews) The magic forest of course, is New York. The seven dwarfs are a group of introverted professors led by bookworm Gary Cooper.

The film ahs a wonderful screenplay by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett. (Sample dialog COP: How do you find a needle in a haystack? GANGSTER: Simple. Feed the hay to a horse, and X-Ray the horse.) Directed with zip by the great Howard Hawks.

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