The Firemen's Ball

Critics Consensus

The Firemen's Ball is an uproarious comedy of incompetence, mining laughs and sharp satire from an allegory that is amusing and distressing in equal measure.



Total Count: 30


Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,369
User image

The Firemen's Ball Photos

Movie Info

Firemen's Ball was Czechoslovakian director Milos Forman's final film in his home country; he was scouting locations in Paris when the Russians moved their tanks into Prague in 1968 causing Forman to decide to remain an expatriate. Because of the supercharged political climate of the era, critics read all sorts of allegory and hidden meanings into the Firemen's Ball. Other critics simply accepted the film as the slapsticky tale of a disastrous small-town celebration in honor of a retiring fire chief, and laughed accordingly. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


Marie Jezkova
as Josef's Wife
Josef Sebanek
as 2nd Committee Member
Frantisek Debelka
as 1st Committee Member
Vaclav Stockel
as Fire Brigade Commander
Josef Svet
as Old Man
Josef Valnoha
as Adjutant
Jan Vostrcil
as Committee Chairman
View All

Critic Reviews for The Firemen's Ball

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (9)

  • In 1967, the year before Soviet tanks rampaged through Czechoslovakia, the Czech director Milos Forman subtly, scathingly used the premise of a quaint provincial party to mock the Party.

    Sep 18, 2017 | Full Review…
  • With Loves of a Blonde, it's the best work Forman's done, rooted in a social reality that has eluded him in his American projects.

    Sep 19, 2014 | Full Review…
  • A delicious parody-fable of Slavic bureaucracy.

    Sep 19, 2014 | Full Review…
    TIME Magazine
    Top Critic
  • Quietly, irresistibly funny in the early Forman manner (this was his first film in colour); but the belated switch to allegorical satire seems altogether too sour in the context.

    Nov 17, 2011

    Tom Milne

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • Forman has cannily used a bevy of non-actors to flesh out a practically plotless vehicle, a lively, brimming comedy on human conduct and smalltown life.

    Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • The nonprofessional actors, hammy slapstick and overwrought politics make it a better conversation piece than viewing experience.

    Dec 10, 2008 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Firemen's Ball

  • May 02, 2018
    There's a kind of brutal honesty at the heart of all the madcap antics. Forman clearly sees humans for what they are and no high minded ideals or political systems will every change that.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 09, 2017
    Very interesting early work from Forman and a sly satire on Communism
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Oct 03, 2013
    Banned from Czechoslovakia for being understood as a satire that openly mocked the heroes of the Communist regime (the people), Milos Forman's first film in color is this hilarious story made by a talented filmmaker who did know his way with an unpretentious dark comedy.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 04, 2012
    A hilariously quirky little foreign comedy from a brilliant director. There aren't any really well known actors or anything like that, but it's short and simple and enjoyable, so I highly recommend it.
    Aj V Super Reviewer

The Firemen's Ball Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features