HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Possessor
Flint
Miserables, Les
Ritz, The
Patrick
Cemetery
Girls of the Sun
Princess and the Goblin, The
Skyfire
Upright
Incredible Kung Fu Mission
Dirty Cops
You Cannot Kill David Arquette
Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on The Exorcist
Son's Room, The
Evil Hits Evil
Agency
Blue My Mind
Thumbelina
Proxima
Aprile
Assassination Nation
Golden Key, The
Image Book, The
On Body and Soul
Unhinged
Eyewitness
Girlfriends
Danger Within
Rent-A-Pal
Battle in Outer Space
H-Man, The
Painted Bird, The
Finding Steve McQueen
Ropes
Five Easy Pieces
Peninsula
Nuclear
Queen of Hearts
Chinese Evil Technique
   
 
Newest Articles
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
Werewolves are Real: Dog Soldiers on Digital
Rose: A Love Story - Producers April Kelley and Sara Huxley Interview
Phone Phreak: 976-EVIL on Blu-ray
Living the Nightmare: Dementia on Blu-ray
Becky and The Devil to Pay: Ruckus and Lane Skye Interview
Big Top Bloodbath: Circus of Horrors on Blu-ray
A Knock on the Door at 4 O'clock in the Morning: The Strangers on Blu-ray
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
   
 
  Ball of Fire Not-so-Snow White
Year: 1941
Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Oskar Homolka, Henry Travers, S.Z. Sakall, Tully Marshall, Leonid Kinskey, Richard Hadyn, Aubrey Mather, Allen Jenkins, Dana Andrews, Dan Duryea, Ralph Peters, Kathleen Howard, Mary Field
Genre: Comedy, Thriller, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  9 (from 2 votes)
Review: Boyishly handsome yet hopelessly naive, Professor Bertram Potts (Gary Cooper) is the youngest of eight kindly old academics sharing a house whilst compiling a definitive dictionary of modern slang. Hoping to get hip to the hep-cat lingo, Bertram goes searching for the perfect “research assistant.” He finds one in the curvaceous form of sultry striptease dancer “Sugarpuss” O’Shea (Barbara Stanwyck) who, unbeknownst to Bertram, needs a place to lay low so the law can’t get her to testify against her gangster boyfriend, Joe Lilac (Dana Andrews). Over time, “Sugarpuss” and the professors grow deeply fond of one another, while she and Bertram begin falling in love. Until Joe Lilac reappears on the scene, putting everyone in danger.

Strange that the only successful update of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves is more than seventy years old, but this delightful screwball comedy delivers a wittily subversive take on the classic fairytale. It is a joke signposted in the opening scene, wherein the eight professors go marching through Central Park in a matter not unlike the dwarves in the classic Walt Disney cartoon, long before it is underlined in the dialogue. Co-written by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, some critics maintain Ball of Fire is more representative of Wilder than director Howard Hawks on account of the verbal fireworks found in the crackerjack script that not only runs riot with Forties slang but crams as many racy jokes as they could get away with in 1941. What’s more, Wilder later recycled aspects of the plot into his own comedy classic Some Like It Hot (1959) which also has its protagonists hiding out in an unfamiliar milieu in order to evade gangsters. Yet the hand of Hollywood’s most versatile master is apparent from the vivacious female lead, machine gun patter, and disarmingly sweet and tender undertones to what in Wilder’s hands might have been a more acerbic satire. Note the scene where Professor Oddly (Richard Hadyn) wistfully clutches a lock of his late wife’s hair while his colleagues sing a melancholy ode to lost love.

As portrayed by a collection of charming, codgerly characters including Oskar Homolka, Henry Travers, S.Z. Sakall, Tully Marshall, Leonid Kinskey, Richard Hadyn, and Aubrey Mather, the film delivers a clutch of vividly drawn, lovable personalities, an affectionate caricature of intellectuals. For all their vast reservoir of knowledge, these academics flounder when faced with feminine guile, whether it is their bossy housekeeper (Kathleen Howard), stern benefactor (Mary Field), but especially the scintillating “Sugarpuss” O’Shea (memorably described by housekeeper Miss Bragg as “the kind of woman that makes whole civilisations topple!”) whose presence reduces these grey-haired old eggheads into a gang of exciteable adolescents. Any Howard Hawks heroine is bound to be as brassy and tough as she is sexy. Wearing a sensational dress, Barbara Stanwyck commands the screen as effortlessly as she enchants the old gentlemen while co-star Gary Cooper is at his most delightful. His goofy grin upon receiving his first kiss is a scream.

While some favour an alternative reading of the film that posits “Sugarpuss” as Satan incarnate unleashing corruption in Eden, it does not hold water given the devil is unlikely to feel remorse. The film’s joy lies in having the spirited “Sugarpuss” draw out each of the professors vibrant personalities and zest for life, even as they melt her hitherto mercenary heart. Hawks, Wilder and Brackett do not attempt anything so trite as to suggest the superiority of emotions over intellect. Rather they stress the importance of balance, underlined in the film’s climax with a deftness typical of Hawks, as Bertram literally throws his book away and relies on pure animal instinct to trounce rival Joe Lilac. In one of his earliest roles, Dana Andrews is a suitably menacing villain and utters the priceless line: “We’re not down here to enjoy ourselves, this is a wedding!” There are moments of brilliantly orchestrated suspense alongside the expected gut-busting gags while Greg Toland’s cinematography leaves this among the most visually striking screwball comedies.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2477 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: