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Like Hawks' similarly screwy HIS GIRL FRIDAY from the previous year, the film is bug-eyed in focus with two very different worlds at work: The first, and marvelously entertaining thanks to a murderer's row of character actors, is a retread in large part of THE SEVEN DWARVES, much fresher in audience's minds in 1941, with the mythical little people replaced by wryly absentminded egghead caricatures—and I say that as something of an egghead caricature myself—while the second portion is more straightforward romcom, less successful due to the poorly cast leads (the gag of Cooper playing against type just doesn't have the punch it might have had at the time).
A Blobbo favorite from olden days.
Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck make a memorable couple in this 40s rom-com.
Delightful comedy, witty, charming and a non-intermittent pleasure from start to finish: that's how great old comedies used to be made. This particular one, with an incredible performance by Henry Cooper and a genius actress Barbara Stanwyck, is a wonderful mix of an old-fashioned attitude of a classic world with the then modern fashion and morals. I miss these kind of comedies when half of things are implicit, not overt; sexuality is in gestures, in walking, in legs, not in profanity.
Divertida e inteligente comedia clàsica.
Entertaining, with a plot that is silly and exceptionally unrealistic. Of course that's to be expected from a screwball comedy
What a fun movie this is. Gary Cooper and seven other intellectuals are living together in a giant house and are hard at work creating an encyclopedia, a project which has taken them years, when it becomes apparent to Cooper that his knowledge of slang is out of date. He takes to the streets of New York, pen and paper in hand, eventually going to a nightclub. Enter Barbara Stanwyck, all a-glitter and performing "Drum Boogie" with Gene Krupa and his orchestra. Well, Marsha Tilton provided the voiceover, but Stanwyck and the orchestra are captivating, including a reprise using a matchbox and matches for drums, huddled around a table. Unbeknownst to Cooper, Stanwyck needs to hide from the police because of her involvement with a gangster (Dana Andrews), and ends up coming to his house.
The casting and acting in this movie is wonderful, from top to bottom. Sparks begin to fly between Cooper and Stanwyck, at first because she's manipulating him into letting her stay, but eventually as his simple considerate nature begins to soften her cynical edges. The seven other professors make a charming group, and include Richard Haydn as Oddley and Henry Travers as Jerome, the latter of whom you'll easily recognize as Clarence from 'It's a Wonderful Life'. Things get complicated with the gangster decides to marry Stanwyck in order to invoke spousal privilege in investigations against him, but I won't spoil it further.
There are so many nice little touches in the dialogue of this film: the slang they use (amped up because of Cooper's "research"), the innuendo, and the nerdy references. There is the sweetness of Cooper quoting Richard III when giving Stanwyck a ring: "Look, how this ring encompasseth finger; Even so thy breast encloseth my poor heart. Wear both of them, for both of them are thine." There are fantastic moments, such as when as when the professors sing a couple of rounds of "Sweet Genevieve" while sitting around a table, as well as the look on Stanwyck's face in the scene where Cooper's realized he's being used and walks out in a dignified way, and she finishes his sentence, that she's a tramp.
Then of course there's the chemistry between Stanwyck and Cooper. As Cooper tries to send her away he says "Make no mistake, I shall regret the absence of your keen mind. Unfortunately it is inseparable from an extremely disturbing body." Stanwyck replies by saying "I'm going to show you what yum-yum is. Here's yum. (big kiss) Here's the other yum. (big kiss)..." Both play their parts perfectly, and while the whole thing is improbable and predictable, the story-telling from Howard Hawks is taut, and it's a lovely romantic comedy. What a year 1941 was for Stanwyck, between this Oscar-nominated performance and 'The Lady Eve'. Great stuff!
This was just pure fun and heart if I could sum it up in one sentence. We just do not have stars like Barbara Stanwyckâ?? and Gary Cooper anymore. Great chemistry. Supporting cast is a whos who of classic film characters. Give this movie a chance...still holds up quite well!
One of the greatest screwball comedies of all time.
Great screwball comedy with Cooper and Stanwyck in top form. Stanwyck is the standout. Shooting out words at a mile a minute and charming not only Cooper, but a whole cast of excellent character actors. The climax where the professors best the baddies is one of the most triumphant examples of brains winning over brawn. Also watch for Gene Krupa in the night club scene, leading his band in 'Drum Boogie' !!
Ball of Fire is such an immensely entertaining and charming film. It isn't as hilarious as I'd come to expect from screwball comedies, but it is still pretty funny at times and it is actually one of the genre's best when it comes to the forties. Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper are superb in their roles as is everyone else too, the story is such a fun rendition/parody of Snow White, the characters are so likable and the film is just so wonderful and fun that you just can't resist it.