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Johnny runs away from Father O'Hara's orphanage and becomes a roller skating star with the help of Mary Reeves. He becomes involved with women, including Polly, who only love him because he is a champion, not, as with Mary, out of love for him. Then he gets polio. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
One of the early attractions of television was the Roller Derby, I well remember it though I certainly can't say I was any fan. And I doubt anyone became a fan after watching this average Mickey Rooney film.
It took a while apparently for Mickey Rooney to finally get cast in adult roles. Producers were still seeing him as either good kid Andy Hardy or that punk from Boys Town, Whitey Marsh. Fireball has Mickey running away from an orphanage where Father Pat O'Brien is having a devil of a time trying to reach this angry young man. Maybe Spencer Tracy had a better touch.
Anyway he finds a pair of roller-skates, a job washing dishes with Ralph Dumke, and pretty soon he's found his way to the skating rink where he finally shows a natural aptitude for speed skating under the tutelage of champion Beverly Tyler. That fact doesn't sit well with her skating partner Glenn Corbett.
Mickey attracts the attention of the television audience just now discovering roller derby when the TV cameras pan to him, heckling the living fecal matter out of Glenn Corbett. Seeing Mickey doing that reminded me of someone I knew way back in the day who used to get free baseball tickets and I went to games with him. The price was listening to this short obnoxious individual heckling the opposition ballplayers the way Rooney was doing to Corbett. Like Mickey in the movie, this individual had issues, many kinds of issues.
Of course he does become a roller derby champion, but faces a couple of crises, personal and professional which I won't go into.
Fireball was made on the cheap to take advantage of the current discovery of the roller derby. Pat O'Brien is the usual wise Catholic prelate, nothing new here since Angels With Dirty Faces. And Rooney is 30, looking 30 playing a teen.
Fireball did give me that unwanted trip down memory lane, not to early television and the roller derby, but to Yankee Stadium trying to pretend I did not know the obnoxious individual sitting next to me.
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