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"!
Gary Cooper ... Prof. Bertram Potts
Barbara Stanwyck ... Katherine 'Sugarpuss' O'Shea
Oskar Homolka ... Prof. Gurkakoff - Mathematics
Henry Travers ... Prof. Jerome - History
S.Z. Sakall ... Prof. Magenbruch - Physiology
Tully Marshall ... Prof. Robinson - Law
Leonid Kinskey ... Prof. Quintana
Richard Haydn ... Prof. Oddly - Botany
Aubrey Mather ... Prof. Peagram - Literature
Allen Jenkins ... Garbageman
Dana Andrews ... Joe Lilac
Director: Howard Hawks
Codecs: DivX 5 / MP3
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.
"Ball of Fire" is known as the last great pre-war comedy, and with good reason. It all begins when a group of egghead professors are writing an encyclopedia. Then, grammarian Bertram Potts (Gary Cooper) realizes that he doesn't know any modern slang. Frequenting the nightclubs, he meets dancer Katherine "Sugarpuss" O'Shea (Barbara Stanwyck), who has a connection to the mob. This leads all the characters on the most unexpected adventure.
I really liked the way that every one of the nerdy professors is tempted to correct every mistake made by the others. But the gags throughout the movie are really something. Hilarious.
Wow, what a cast! Let's see, there's Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Richard Haydn, Oscar Homolka, Henry Travers, S.Z. Sakall, Tully Marshall, Dana Andrews, Allen Jenkins and more! Classic film fans know all these names.
What's more, it's a fun movie, fun to see and especially fun to hear. Stanwyck is her usual fascinating self, but in this movie it's the men - the seven old bachelors and the younger Cooper in the "club" - that are the most entertaining.
When you have directors and writers such as Howard Hawks and Billy Wilder behind the film, you know it's a winner.
Because the story dealt with a bunch of encyclopedia writers trying to find out the latest slang words, the dialog in here is really funny. The expressions of the day are dated and humorous and there are so many you can't count them all. Some are stupid; some are hilarious...which is what you get with most comedies anyway. Not every line hits the mark, but a lot do in this one.
Tack on some action and some romance and it's corny-but-cute film , entertaining all the way.
* Billy Wilder had already written the story in Germany, then brought it to the USA when he emigrated and sold it to MGM.
* Kathleen Howard was left with a fractured jaw when the punch that Barbara Stanwyck threw accidentally made contact. Stanwyck was reportedly mortified by the incident.
* The roles of the seven professors (besides Gary Cooper) were inspired by Disney's Seven Dwarfs. There is even a photograph showing the actors sitting in front of a Disney poster, each one in front of his corresponding dwarf: S.Z. Sakall - Dopey; Leonid Kinskey - Sneezy; 'Richard Haydn' - Bashful; Henry Travers - Sleepy; Aubrey Mather - Happy; Tully Marshall - Grumpy, and Oskar Homolka - Doc.
* 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 something like, "I saw this in a movie," 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.
* Ginger Rogers was the original choice for Katherine 'Sugarpuss' O'Shea, but Rogers declined.
* Lucille Ball was set to play Katherine 'Sugarpuss' O'Shea, but once producer Samuel Goldwyn found out that Barbara Stanwyck was available he gave her the part instead.
* When Gary Cooper is taking notes of the news boy's slang, the marquee on the theater across the street advertises Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), an inside joke that refers to the script's inspiration.