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USA 1941
Directed by
Howard Hawks
111 minutes
Rated G

2 stars

Ball Of Fire

Scripted by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder and based on a story, From A to Z, by Wilder and Thomas Monroe, this adult version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is badly dated in its coy humour and, especially coming from a director who helmed one of the best-ever screwball comedies the previous year, His Girl Friday, laborious. Barbara Stanwyck (who was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar but lost to Joan Fontaine for Suspicion) in the part originally intended for Ginger Rogers, then Lucille Ball, is, as always watchable, but the rest of the film draws out the very familiar square-meets-brassy-showgirl set-up beyond endurance.

Gary Cooper makes for an unlikely egg-head who with 7 moth-eaten old fuddy-duddies (Oscar Homolka, Henry Travers, S. J. Sakall, Tully Marshall, Leonid Kinskey, Richard Haydn & Aubrey Mather) are tirelessly working on an new encyclopedia. As Professor Bertram Potts, Cooper heads out into the streets of New York in order to research street argot and this leads him to Sugarpuss O'Shea (Stanwyck), a nightclub singer and moll of gangster, Joe Lilac (Dana Andrews), and a long-winded journey to the inevitable conclusion.

Jazz fans will enjoy an appearance by the Gene Krupa Band playing Drum Boogie with Ms. Stanwyck, evidently miming, out front and Mr Krupa doing a nifty little percussive coda using a matchbox but that's about as good as it gets.




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