7.8/10
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89 user 45 critic

Ball of Fire (1941)

Approved | | Comedy, Romance | 9 January 1942 (USA)
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 »
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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
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 »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 January 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Professor and the Burlesque Queen 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

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. See more »

Goofs

In the car fleeing the nightclub: Sugarpuss O'Shea holds up Professor Potts's calling card to read it. Then the camera angle goes to a close-up of the card, with her fingers holding it around the four corners of the card, but the position of the fingers in the close-up shot do not at all match the way she is holding the card in the previous "long" shot. See more »

Quotes

Joe Lilac: You know, I was kinda counting on Sugarpuss to tell ya the score. Trouble is, she's all right givin' out with the twists and the wisecracks, but when it comes to leveling off she gets chicken.
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

References Sergeant York (1941) See more »

Soundtracks

Gaudeamus Igitur
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by the professors
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Very, very funny
1 March 1999 | by otterSee all my reviews

When you think of Gary Cooper, what kinds of part do you think of? Strong silent men, men of honor, gunfighters of the old west, people like Sergeant York and the Sheriff in "High Noon", right? You certainly don't think funny, and you'd certainly never think he could play a NERD, but he does in this film. Not only is he a convincing complete geek, but he's funny, AND sexy!

The story is pretty silly (inspired by "Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs", really): A group of dorky professors are writing an encyclopedia, and English Professor Cooper decides he needs more information on Slang. In his quest for current jive talk he meets Barbara Stanwyck, as a too-lively singer/gang moll. She takes advantage of his invitation to discuss verbiage to use his ivory tower as a hideout, and moves in with the professors. She quickly decides to stay, then to have her way with Coop (who wouldn't), and then falls...

A very funny, sprightly film, fast-paced and full of wonderful performances. Stanwyck is glowingly wonderful, but I still can't get over Cooper's wonderful characterization of a supremely attractive total geek. If that sounds like a contradiction in terms, see the movie and you'll realize it's true.


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