7.8/10
10,452
101 user 51 critic

Ball of Fire (1941)

Approved | | Comedy, Romance | 9 January 1942 (USA)
Trailer
2:09 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Howard Hawks

Writers:

Charles Brackett (screen play), Billy Wilder (screen play) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Gary Cooper ... Prof. Bertram Potts
Barbara Stanwyck ... Sugarpuss O'Shea
Oskar Homolka ... Prof. Gurkakoff (as Oscar Homolka)
Henry Travers ... Prof. Jerome
S.Z. Sakall ... Prof. Magenbruch
Tully Marshall ... Prof. Robinson
Leonid Kinskey ... Prof. Quintana
Richard Haydn ... Prof. Oddly
Aubrey Mather ... Prof. Peagram
Allen Jenkins ... Garbage Man
Dana Andrews ... Joe Lilac
Dan Duryea ... Duke Pastrami
Ralph Peters ... Asthma Anderson
Kathleen Howard ... Miss Bragg
Mary Field ... Miss Totten
Learn more

More Like This 

The Lady Eve (1941)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A trio of classy card sharks targets the socially awkward heir to brewery millions for his money, until one of them falls in love with him.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn
Comedy | Music | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

With her gangster boyfriend under investigation by the police, a nightclub singer hides out in a musical research institution staffed by bachelor professors - one of whom begins to fall for her.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, Benny Goodman
Meet John Doe (1941)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A man needing money agrees to impersonate a nonexistent person who said he'd be committing suicide as a protest, and a political movement begins.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward Arnold
Sergeant York (1941)
Certificate: Passed Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A marksman is drafted in World War I and ends up becoming one of the most celebrated war heroes.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie
Certificate: Passed Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

At a remote South American trading port, the manager of an air freight company is forced to risk his pilots' lives in order to win an important contract.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Rita Hayworth
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A shoplifter and her prosecutor fall in love, creating tensions for his career and family.

Director: Mitchell Leisen
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray, Beulah Bondi
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An escaped prisoner and a stuffy law professor vie for the hand of a spirited schoolteacher.

Director: George Stevens
Stars: Cary Grant, Jean Arthur, Ronald Colman
Ninotchka (1939)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A stern Russian woman sent to Paris on official business finds herself attracted to a man who represents everything she is supposed to detest.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Ina Claire
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A simple, small town man inherits a massive fortune, making him the target for scammers and publicity-seekers. Overwhelmed by the turn his life has taken, and awoken to another use for his new-found fortune, he makes a momentous decision.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, George Bancroft
The Westerner (1940)
Drama | Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Judge Roy Bean, a self-appointed hanging judge in Vinegarroon, Texas, befriends saddle tramp Cole Harden, who opposes Bean's policy against homesteaders.

Director: William Wyler
Stars: Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Doris Davenport
Stella Dallas (1937)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A working-class woman is willing to do whatever it takes to give her daughter a socially promising future.

Director: King Vidor
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, John Boles, Anne Shirley
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A flamboyant Broadway impresario who has fallen on hard times tries to get his former lover, now a Hollywood diva, to return and resurrect his failing career.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: John Barrymore, Carole Lombard, Walter Connolly
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Barbara Stanwyck's Best Actress Oscar nomination was the only one in the category that was not in a Best Picture nominee that year. See more »

Goofs

When Professor Oddly is reminiscing about his honeymoon. He refers to the Anemone Nemorosa plant that he saw in the Catskills. As a botanist, Professor Oddly should have been aware that the Anemone Nemorosa is a plant indigenous to Europe and the British Isles in particular. See more »

Quotes

Joe Lilac: Having some trouble, Mr. D.A.?
District Attorney: Oh, don't worry, Joe. And don't underestimate this office or the State of New York. I've got some boys that can find a needle in a haystack.
Joe Lilac: Oh, that's a cinch. All you have to do is get a horse to eat the hay and then x-ray the horse.
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 »

Connections

Referenced in The 55th Annual Academy Awards (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

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

User Reviews

 
Barbara and the Seven Dwarfs...Wilder style...
31 August 2006 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

Billy Wilder seems to have written this vehicle especially tailored to the talents of BARBARA STANWYCK and GARY COOPER because they never had roles in romantic comedies that suited them as well.

Babs is a sassy stripper on the lam from the law and sheltered by seven old men (and one young professor) assigned to work on a dictionary of slang. She teaches them a thing or two with her own street talk and soon insinuates herself into their affections, much the way Snow White did with the Seven Dwarfs.

It's farce all the way, broadly played by the delightful cast of men, including S.Z. SAKALL, OSKAR HOMOLKA, RICHARD HAYDYN, HENRY TRAVERS, and DANA ANDREWS as her henchman lover.

But it's her chemistry with Cooper that practically glows on screen, giving her character the softer touch and taking the brassiness out of her "Sugarpuss" characterization.

Although the material is strictly "cornball" by today's standards, it's still a lot of fun to watch Cooper fall under her spell--and to watch Dana Andrews (in a good early role) getting his comeuppance.

"Sugarpuss" and "Potsie" are quite a pair!! Howard Hawks' direction makes the most out of a witty, gag-filled script.


6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 101 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 January 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ball of Fire See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.



Recently Viewed