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 »
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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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
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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:

The New Year's red-hot comedy! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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. See more »

Goofs

During the walk through central park, the camera shadow is visible on Professor Gurkakoff's torso. See more »

Quotes

Sugarpuss O'Shea: You, uh, you don't think we could sort of begin the beguine right now?
Professor Bertram Potts: Well, it's, uh, nearly one o'clock, Miss O'Shea.
Sugarpuss O'Shea: Oh, foo, professor. And let's get ourselves a couple drinks, light the fire maybe, and you can start working on me right away.
Professor Bertram Potts: Well, I wouldn't think of imposing on you at this hour.
Sugarpuss O'Shea: Listen, I figured on working all night.
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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

Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Une histoire seule (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride)
(1850) (uncredited)
from "Lohengrin"
Written by Richard Wagner
In the score as the professors go to New Jersey for the wedding
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User Reviews

 
A Comical Visit to the Past
3 January 2002 | by lawprofSee all my reviews

This is the perfect film to view in between seeing today's myriad message movies and super-techno thrillers. In stunning black-and-white the merry adventures of bachelor and aging academics, struggling to complete a massive encyclopedia funded by an increasingly doubtful (and homely) heiress, unfold. The scholars encounter the beautiful (and wonderful) Barbara Stanwyck, a gang moll who needs to hide out while her crime boss boyfriend seeks to avoid an unpleasant prosecution related to a rival who disappeared wearing concrete shoes (low tech disposal of the suddenly terminated was the simple order of the day in 1941).

Gary Cooper is the youngest of the researchers and, obviously, from the first moment that he and the gorgeous Stanwyck set eyes on each other, the ultimate outcome can't be in doubt. No psychological exploration of the nature of evil or the vagaries of love between opposites darken this sprightly gem from the vaults. The cast must have enjoyed making this film.

Easily obtainable for rent or for purchase, "Ball of Fire" shows pre-Pearl Harbor comedic Hollywood at its zenith.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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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 »

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