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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>
Movies are often thought to be good or palatable in the time that they are new, when they are viewed in the particular era in which they are produced. The Audience and the picture are 'in synch' with other. Their further acceptance depends on their content, casting, story line, etc.
The passing of time is also a major player in the legacy of any production. The difference in our attitudes and mores can make a great difference in a film's 'reputation'. This is the basis for some very serious works of a former era become today's 'Camp'.
The age of the individual viewer and the time elapsed are also active agents in a movie's rating. The memory, of course, can enhance and expand the scope and impact of a story, making the version in one's head far different than the on screen product.The Fireball (1950) doesn't seem to fall into any of these traps (at least for this writer).
I remember viewing this at a relative's house in the early 50's. It was the nightly movie, the feature that so many TV Stations ran in the slot following the nightly news cast. We gathered around the small b&w screen,interrupted for commercial breaks, and followed the drama of an orphaned Mickey Rooney rise,fall and rise again as a Roller Derby Star. Oh, the Roller Derby!It was a very popular item at then. It seemed to be a great picture (to an 8 year old) at the time.
Now, years later, viewable on VHS, with no interruptions, The Fireball is once again around to be seen by all. It,of course, now can be seen as chronicling the spirit of the Post World War II America and a simpler, slower, quieter time. But in its own way, it has held up quite well. It may even be seen in a little better light today, because it seems to be a sincere, straight forward story.
And, we must not forget a very good cast. Mickey Rooney had fallen a little in his Box Office ratings, and turns in a very good performance, including some very amusing skating sequences. Add Pat O'Brien as (what else?) a Priest at the Orphanage,James Brown, Milburn Stone and a young Marilyn Monroe and you've got a solid 'little' film, one that many, who may be unfamiliar with it, will find to be surprisingly enjoyable.
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