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Ball of Fire (1941) Poster

(1941)

Trivia

Kathleen Howard was left with a fractured jaw when the punch that Barbara Stanwyck threw accidentally made contact. Stanwyck was reportedly mortified by the incident.
When Gary Cooper is taking notes of the newsboy's slang, the marquee on the theater across the street advertises Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), an inside joke that refers to the script's inspiration.
Lucille Ball wanted to play Katherine 'Sugarpuss' O'Shea, as she thought it was the kind of role that would win her an Oscar. She fought for the role and was eventually hired, but once producer Samuel Goldwyn found out that Barbara Stanwyck was available he gave her the part instead.
To pick up authentic slang for the film script, screenwriters Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett visited the drugstore across the street from Hollywood High School, a burlesque house and the Hollywood Park racetrack.
In the scene where Pastrami and Asthma have the professors hostage in the library, the gunmen begin shooting at random items. One gunman (Pastrami) says, "I saw me a picture last week," and proceeds to lick his thumb and then rubs it on the sight of his gun. This is a reference to star Gary Cooper's previous movie Sergeant York (1941) in which York uses this as a technique to improve his marksmanship.
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 and, therefore, younger than Gary Cooper.
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 one of the hoods tells Sugarpuss to stay near the "Ameche", this is a reference to Don Ameche, who played Alexander Graham Bell in The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939).
Producer Samuel Goldwyn promised director Billy Wilder a $10,000 bonus if the film became a box-office hit. When it was released in theaters, it was an instant success. One day Wilder stopped by Goldwyn's office and asked for his $10,000 bonus. Goldwyn flew into a rage. "You Hungarian thief!" he shouted at Wilder. "I never promised any such thing! Get out of here!" Wilder left the office, furious. That night, however, Goldwyn's wife, Helen, awoke to find him pacing the floor of their bedroom. "I've just remembered that Wilder was right," Goldwyn told her. "I DID promise him a $10,000 bonus." "What are you going to do?" asked Helen. "What CAN I do?" Goldwyn replied. "I'm going to sit down here and write Wilder a check for $5,000!"
Billy Wilder had already written the story in Germany, then brought it to the USA when he emigrated and sold it to MGM.
The portrait of Miss Totten's father is the same portrait shown in the Barbara Stanwyck-Fred MacMurray Christmas film Remember the Night (1940).
Carole Lombard turned down the role of Katherine O'Shea because she didn't like the script.
Martha Tilton provided Barbara Stanwyck's singing voice for the song "Drum Boogie".
Howard Hawks recalled that for the scene in which Bertram reveals his feelings about Sugarpuss in the darkened bungalow, cinematographer Gregg Toland coated Barbara Stanwyck's face with black grease paint so that her eyes would stand out.
Considered by some modern critics as the last "Golden Age" screwball comedy.
Hal McIntyre can be seen in the saxophone section during the number "Drumboogie". Also, Roy Eldridge has a brief trumpet solo.
It was Gary Cooper who recommended Barbara Stanwyck for the role of Katherine "Sugarpuss" O'Shea.
Dana Andrews based his character of Joe Lilac, Sugarpuss O'Shea's boyfriend, on the notorious gangster Bugsy Siegel. Siegel owned the Formosa, a club across the street from Goldwyn Studios, and Andrews used to go there after work. He had the suits, the hats, right down to the spats, down pat.
Several cast members in studio records/casting call lists for this movie were not seen in the final print. These were (with their character names): Lee Phelps (Policeman in Station), Johnnie Morris (Clerk at Justice of the Peace), Dick Rush (Policeman at Motor Inn), Del Lawrence (Irish Gardener) and Jack Perry (Fighting Bum).
Ginger Rogers was the original choice for Katherine 'Sugarpuss' O'Shea. She called the script fluff and declined. She later regretted this decision.
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."
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Although the picture did not have its official premiere until January 1942, it was eligible for 1941 Academy Award consideration, and is listed in most modern sources as a 1941 picture.
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Billy Wilder spent two months observing Howard Hawks on the set of the film.
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Gary Cooper opens up a book on boxing to a page featuring the famous print of English Prizefighter Daniel Mendoza (1764- 1836); he was great-great grandfather of actor Peter Sellers.
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"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on June 1, 1942 with Barbara Stanwyck reprising her film role.
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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.
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The working titles of this film were From A to Z, (which also was the title of Billy Wilder and Thomas Monroe's screen story), Blonde Blitzkrieg and The Professor and the Burlesque Queen.
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Jean Arthur was considered for the role of Katherine "Sugarpuss" O'Shea, but Columbia Pictures wouldn't loan her out.
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Phil Silvers was announced for a role, but he did not appear in the final film.
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Rosemary La Planche, Miss America of 1941, reportedly was signed for a role, but her appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed.
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Betty Field tested for the role of Katherine "Sugarpuss" O'Shea.
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