Ball of Fire (1941)



Critic Consensus: A splendidly funny twist on the story of Snow White, Ball of Fire boasts a pair of perfect leads in Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck.

Movie Info

Professor Bertram Potts is the youngest of eight bookish academics assembling a dictionary of slang. They find a perfect "research associate" in the curvaceous form of strip-tease dancer Kathryn "Sugar Puss" O'Shea, who has hidden out at the professors' domicile to escape Joe Lilac, her gangster boyfriend. As Sugar Puss interprets various slang expressions, she and the professors grow quite fond of one another. She brings their personalities out from under their collegiate facades, while they … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, Thomas Monroe
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 22, 2007



as Prof. Bertram Potts

as Sugarpuss O'Shea

as Prof. Gurkakoff

as Prof. Jerome

as Prof. Magenbruch

as Prof. Robinson

as Prof. Quintana

as Prof. Oddly

as Prof. Peagram

as Garbage Man

as Joe Lilac

as Duke Pastrami

as Miss Totten

as Asthma Anderson

as Miss Bragg

as Larson

as McNeary

as Horseface

as Fissette

as Pinstripe

as Benny

as Justice of the Peace

as District Attorney

as College Boy

as Newsboy

as Spieler

as College Boy

as Nursemaid at Park

as Hula Dancer

as Nursemaid at Park

as Garbage Man

as Stage Doorman

as Garbage Man

as Girl in Subway

as Girl in Subway

as College Girl

as College Girl

as Fighting Bum

as Chorus Girl

as Delivery Boy

as Taxi Driver

as Girl in Cafe

as Tollkeeper

as Deputy

as Policeman in Station

as Cop With Miss Bragg

as Motor Cop

as Irish Gardener

as Cop on Garbage Truck

as Policeman at Motor I...

as Justice of the Peace...

as Motor Court Propriet...

as Orchestra Leader

as Fighting Bum
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Ball of Fire

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (5)

Actor Cooper plays his Mr. Deeds role with the authority of long familiarity, and Miss Stanwyck (once Ruby Stevens, of Brooklyn) is equally at home in hers.

Full Review… | February 4, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Casting is meticulously perfect to make every character a caricature of itself.

Full Review… | August 14, 2007
Top Critic

A delight.

Full Review… | August 14, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Pure joy.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Mr. Cooper may be a little loose-tooth in spots, but he gives a homespun performance such as only he can give. Miss Stanwyck is plenty yum-yum (meaning scorchy) in her worldly temptress role.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Great, deep, humane, well-built comedy. But throw in Barbara Stanwyck's unbelievable act of character creation, and that's when Ball of Fire becomes its best self.

Full Review… | March 20, 2015
Antagony & Ecstasy

Audience Reviews for Ball of Fire

A grammarian who is toiling away at an encyclopedia meets a nightclub singer who teaches him slang.
In the Hollywood's mind, making a film often involved merely pairing the two right movie stars, actors who would look good together and whose respective markets would overlap. To a large extent, that's even true now (e.g. You've Got Mail and Runaway Bride are re-hashes of couples that worked well in the past). It's like multimillion-dollar I suspect that's the thinking that went into Ball of Fire. The story is trite and cliche. It's re-telling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs [sic] -- how cliched can you get? But Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck are delightful, rapping their dialogue in a staccato that often makes classics classic.
Overall, it's a fun diversion and easy to predict, but there's a lot to like about Ball of Fire.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


Not only is this movie hilarious, unique, and witty, but you learn a lot about slang words too. This movie is really fun, great cast and story and everything, I loved it, and I highly recommend it.

AJ Verser

Super Reviewer

Ah. A dilemma every English dork struggles with. Kinda reminded me of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs but modern. Very cute and funny. Gary Cooper kinda surprised me in this, the only other movie I had seen before this was High Noon, but his refined nature in this was well played. And I loved Barbara Stanwyck, loved her carefree nature in this.

Jennifer D

Super Reviewer

Ball of Fire Quotes

– Submitted by John L (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Chris P (4 years ago)

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