Phillip Duggan (sparhawk2k) wrote in celluloidraving,
Phillip Duggan

Ball of Fire (1941) ... 8.5/10


Eight professors have spent years working diligently on a great encyclopedia and are slowly working their way to the end. And they aren't having any problems until their local garbage man comes in to ask them a few trivia questions. Prof. Bertram Potts, the one in charge of English, quickly discovers that the article he has been writing on slang is horribly out of date. So he goes of on a mission to discover the way language has changed and quickly finds that he is far behind. He starts recruiting people to help him and in the process recruits more than he hopes for. Sugarpuss O'Shea, a local mob girl, decides to come when she realizes it will be a good place to hang low while the dust settles on the current problems. But she ends up getting into more than she bargained for and so do the professors.

What really made this film the most enjoyable for me in the end was the amazing collection of character actors. Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck were both quite good in their roles but I had a lot more fun with everybody else. All the professors each had their own fun amusing little quirks and the mob guys were your typical mob guys which became doubly amusing in the company of the multitude of professors.

While it was fun and enjoyable I don't think it has ages as well as many other films of the time have. I can see the touches of Billy Wilder showing through but I enjoyed a lot of his later works much more. It seems strange but I had trouble buying into this movie while I didn't with Some Like It Hot. I think he had just progressed much more as a writer by that point and did a much better job of mixing the zaniness in with the story so it seemed more fitting. Much of this film just seemed rather out of place.

In the end it was still a nice way to pass the evening. So many characters have got me enthralled that I'm going to spend months tracking down films and seeing what else they have done. This isn't the best work I've seen by anybody involved but it's also not even close to the worst. I'm glad I got the chance to see it but it hasn't quite stood the test of time enough to truly become a classic.

"Make no mistake, I shall regret the absence of your keen mind; unfortunately, it is inseparable from an extremely disturbing body." (Referring, of course, to Barbara Stanwyck)
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