The Firemen's Ball (1968)


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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
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Critic Reviews for The Firemen's Ball

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (8)

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
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…
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

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 Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

fantastically funny

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

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
Aj V

Super Reviewer

Director Milos Forman's last film endeavor in his native Czechoslovakia is a comedy ripe with covert political satire, so much so that it almost cost him 10 years in a socialist prison. A small town fire brigade is throwing a party to honor their retiring commissioner, complete with a dance, a prize lottery and a beauty contest. Murphy's Law applies and all that can go wrong does. Whether it's intentional or not, Forman's film has a lot to say about the fallacy of social control committees and bureaus when they run counter to common sense and human nature. The Fireman's Ball is as courageous as it is funny. Four Stars.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

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