7.8/10
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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

Lucille Ball wanted to play Katherine 'Sugarpuss' O'Shea, as she thought it was the kind of role that would win her an Oscar. She fought for the role and was eventually hired, but once producer Samuel Goldwyn found out that Barbara Stanwyck was available he gave her the part instead. See more »

Goofs

When the gangsters visit the professors' house, they beckon to Sugarpuss to come out by the front door. After speaking to them, she is seen from inside the house returning via the front door, but when the camera moves outside, instead of seeing her on the steps that lead to the door of the brownstone, we see her emerging into a narrow alley, and the door has changed from the large, elaborate front door to a much smaller and plainer one. See more »

Quotes

Sugarpuss O'Shea: [about Potts] Yes, I love him. I love those hick shirts he wears with the boiled cuffs and the way he always has his vest buttoned wrong. Looks like a giraffe, and I love him. I love him because he's the kind of a guy that gets drunk on a glass of buttermilk, and I love the way he blushes right up over his ears. Love him because he doesn't know how to kiss, the jerk!
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 A Family Affair (1937) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Stanwyck wakes up a bunch of geniuses...and one in particular
17 December 2005 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Barbara Stanwyck plays a wise-cracking entertainer who moves in with 8 professorial types in "Ball of Fire," a marvelous Billy Wilder film, directed by Howard Hawks, that is loosely based on Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs! Only Wilder could come up with an idea like this and make it shine.

And shine it does. Stanwyck is perfect as Sugarpuss O'Shea, whose boyfriend is a mobster sought after by the police. After a visit by Cooper, whose assignment is slang for the encyclopedia he and the others have been writing for only nine years, she drops in on him late at night, intending to hide out there so the police can't subpoena her testimony. Cooper falls for her while the other, older men develop paternalistic feelings for her.

Stanwyck is gorgeous and gets to show off that fabulous body and great legs as well as her flair for comedy. She's in stark contrast to Cooper as a man who's been in his ivory tower too long. Cooper was one of the handsomest movie stars ever. Tall and gangly, slow-talking, with a boyish smile that lights up his face, it's no wonder the heiress funding the encyclopedia is crazy about him and that Stanwyck finds herself drifting into love with him.

Dana Andrews has a good role as the mobster boyfriend, and one of his sidekicks is the always snarky Dan Duryea. The professors are all terrific. Highly entertaining fare from Billy Wilder, and the last film he ever wrote but didn't direct.


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