USA Today - 05/10/1995
"...[The film] boasts a classic screwball script..."
Entertainment Weekly - 06/01/2007
"[The film] morphs from an adorable SNOW WHITE farce into a touching paean to falling for a nerd." -- Grade: A
BALL OF FIRE opens with a group of eight mild-mannered professors who are hard at work compiling an encyclopedia. Work is dull but progressing well until language expert Bertram Potts (Gary Cooper) realizes his section on slang is outdated. For research he ventures into the outside world, where he encounters nightclub singer Sugarpuss O'Shea (Barbara Stanwyck), who, thanks to her mobster boyfriend, Joe Lilac (Dana Andrews), needs a place to hide out. The professors are only too happy to have a woman living among them, and the brassy singer teaches them more than slang, in the process livening up their academic lives with nylons and conga lines. Potts becomes infatuated with Sugarpuss, but when Joe wants her back, things get complicated. A lively romantic comedy with top performances from Cooper, an Oscar-nominated Stanwyck, and a terrific cast of supporting actors, the film also features Gene Krupa and His Orchestra. Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Story. Hawks went on to remake the film in 1948 as the musical A SONG IS BORN, starring Danny Kaye.
When a professor (Gary Cooper) and his sheltered, highbrow colleagues begin work on a new encyclopedia, he enlists the aid of a beautiful, tough-talking night club entertainer (Barbara Stanwyck) to help explain slang, unaware that she is on the run from her gangster boyfriend. She turns out to be just what the boys from the Ivory Tower needed until her dangerous paramour starts calling the shots.
Theatrical Release: January 9, 1942
Much of the film is a loose parody of Disney's SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS, as Sugarpuss meets up with seven older professors and one "Prince Charming."
The film's original title was THE PROFESSOR AND THE BURLESQUE QUEEN.
BALL OF FIRE was remade in 1948 by director Hawks as the musical A SONG IS BORN, starring Danny Kaye.
BALL OF FIRE is based on the story "From A to Z" by screenwriter Billy Wilder,
The film received four Oscar nominations, including Best Actress for Stanwyck, and Best Original Story for a screenplay cowritten by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett.