HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Perfect 10
Octaman
Red Penguins
China Syndrome, The
Babyteeth
Round-Up, The
Around the Sun
Once There Was Brasilia
Peripheral
Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street
Ice
She Demons
Good Girls, The
Hail, Hero!
Faces in the Crowd
Tamango
Traitor, The
Tomorrow
Third Generation, The
Saxon Charm, The
Spy Intervention
Moonrise
Mulan
Killer with a Thousand Eyes, The
Vigil, The
Liberation of L.B. Jones, The
Wizard of Baghdad, The
Ride
Good Manners
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Sweet Home
Big Score, The
Siddhartha
Three Outlaw Samurai
Echoes of Fear
Guinea Pig, The
Truth, The
Good Die Young, The
Old Guard, The
Gumnaam
   
 
Newest Articles
Network On Air: Nights in with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
Look Sinister: The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse on Blu-ray
Star Wars Triple Threat: The Tricky Third Prequel and Sequel
   
 
  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 2297 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
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: