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Ball of Fire (1941)

Gary Cooper , Barbara Stanwyck , Howard Hawks  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)

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DVD 1-Disc Version $9.49  
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Ball of Fire + The Lady Eve (The Criterion Collection)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Oskar Homolka, Henry Travers, S.Z. Sakall
  • Directors: Howard Hawks
  • Writers: Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, Thomas Monroe
  • Producers: Samuel Goldwyn
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: May 22, 2007
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (102 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NIBUT4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,101 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Ball of Fire" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Sexy wisecracking nightclub singer Sugarpuss O'Shea is a hot tomato who needs to be kept on ice: mobster boyfriend Joe Lilac is suspected of murder and Sugarpuss' testimony could put him away. Naive Professor Bertram Potts meets Miss O'Shea while researching an article on slang and in true romantic comedy fashion the two worlds collide. When Miss O'Shea hides out with Potts and his fellow professors everyone learns something new: the professors how to cha-cha and Potts the meaning of "yum-yum"!System Requirements:Run Time: 111 minutesFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: WESTERN/MISC. Rating: NR UPC: 027616075161 Manufacturer No: M107518

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This retelling of the SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS was actually based on a script that Billy Wilder wrote before immigrating to the United States from Germany, but it was only after the success of the Disney version that a demand was created for it. The enormously versatile Howard Hawks (quite literally the most versatile director in film history, the only director to have mastered and/or created five or six genres) took the script and turned it into one of the last great pre-WW II comedies. The story is simple: a group of monkish scholars living together in New York City are writing an encyclopedia. One of them is writing about slang, but being unfamiliar with contemporary argot begins research his topic by talking to people outside his normal range of acquaintance. He runs into gangster moll Sugarpuss O'Shea, who takes advantage of the scholars to move in with them in order to escape the police, who want to talk to her to implicate her guy Joe Lilac. While hardly Snow White, she certainly managed to stir up their lives.

The film is made wonderful by a number of things: Wilder's clever script, Hawks typically deft direction, a solid performance by Gary Cooper, but most of all by a scintillating job by the overwhelmingly alluring Barbara Stanwyck and a stellar collection of veteran character actors playing the seven dwarves. All the latter are great, but special mention has to be made of Richard Haydn (who excells even beside the others, with his extraordinary overpronounciation of everyday words), Oskar Homolka, and S.Z. Sakall. There are few more delightful collections of character actors in any Hollywood comedy. I personally prefer Barbara Stanwyck to any other actress in Hollywood history.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This one's a keeper.... March 5, 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Why haven't we heard more about this comedy classic? Gary Cooper is one of eight super-brains writing an encyclopedia. Barbara Stanwyck is a definitely non-intellectual entertainer looking for a place to hide. With her sassy freshness, she captures the hearts of all the professors, particularly Cooper; then he - and they - capture hers. But her boyfriend, a local gangster, has some other ideas. This movie is first-class in every way - writing (Billy Wilder), directing (Howard Hawks), and an elite cast of 1940s stars. Any movie sixty years old is going to seem dated - all films should be regarded as period pieces - but that can be part of the fun of watching, especially as "Professor Cooper" investigates the ins and outs of the "slanguage" of the times. A couple of musical numbers accent the story, including a drum solo on a matchbox.... really! "Ball of Fire" was remade some years later as "A Song is Born," which loses some of the sparkle of its predecessor but gains some enjoyable jazz music; the two movies should be treated only as cousins. If you really enjoy the classic comedies, you should find this one worth your time.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Stanwyck masterpiece September 18, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper are perfectly cast as Sugarpuss O'Shea and Professor Bertram Potts. Potts and seven other erudite, academically entrenched professors are creating a new encyclopedia. Their residence is the perfect hiding place for Sugarpuss, when her gangster boy friend (played by Dana Andrews) forces her to go on the lam in order to avoid a subpoena. Using subterfuge and feminine wiles, she easily convinces the professors to let her stay with them. Her pretence being that linguist Potts will benefit from her expertise with modern (1941) slang. After a lifetime of academic isolation, Potts is attracted by her worldly sophistication and insouciance. This attraction rapidly turns into love, and this feeling becomes mutual. "Ball of Fire" is an exceptional movie. Let's not spoil it by revealing too much. If you haven't seen "Ball of Fire", it's well worth seeing. It's so outstanding that one viewing is not enough.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"Ball Of Fire" is one my favorite screwball romantic comedies. It was made towards the end of a golden era of this genre of films, which also includes such better-known classics as "The Philadelphia Story" (1940), "His Girl Friday" (1940) and "Bringing Up Baby" (1938). Directed by Howard Hawks, the master of rapid-fire comedic dialogue, it tells the story of nerdy language scholar Bertram Potts (Gary Cooper, in one of his best "aw-shucks" performances, along with "Mr. Deeds Goes To Town") who lives in a house with seven other stodgy, albeit older bachelor scholars, all of whom are working on an encyclopedia.

Upon discovering that his knowledge of slang is outdated, Potts bravely ventures forth into the real world, where he discovers flashy (literally, as the dress she is first seen in is sequined and purposely lit so as to momentarily "blind" Potts when she shows up at his house in it) nightclub singer Katherine "Sugar Puss" O'Shea (Barbara Stanwyck). He is taken in by O'Shea's gusty performance of "Drum Boogie", (accompanied by a famous drummer of the times, Gene Krupa, who reminds me onstage a bit of "The Who" drummer Keith Moon), and her lively banter, and asks her to help him with his slang research. She takes him up on his invitation very abruptly by showing up at his home that same night, claiming to be arriving to help, when in fact she's trying to hide. The resulting storyline is predictable, fast-paced, extremely well-written, thoroughly dated, and filled with 1940's other words, to anyone who is a fan of this genre...completely captivating and charming.

With this in mind, and taken as a movie of the times, it's a comedic gem.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Barbara Stanwyk and Gary Cooper...what a pair!
What a fun movie!! TCM viewed it and after watching it, I had to have my own copy!!
Published 19 days ago by loloetta
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Loved "Drum Boogie"
Published 23 days ago by Ted Tweed
5.0 out of 5 stars A funny movie
Ball of Fire is one of my favorite black and white movies. I've watched this movie over many years. The magic of this film is that many of actors are more known for their dramatic... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Stringbean
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Charles Dance
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this movie with Stany trying to teach these stuffy ...
Love this movie with Stany trying to teach these stuffy professors the slang in those years. Wonderful performance by and Coop.
Published 1 month ago by Barbara Bryant
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love love love this movie. Goes to show you that even in the 40's geeks could get the girl.
Published 1 month ago by Gadgette
4.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoyed this film which I hadn't seen for many years
Really enjoyed this film which I hadn't seen for many years. Barbara even sings a catchy tune and shows her early dance training.
Published 1 month ago by gemini09
5.0 out of 5 stars Ball Of Fire Blasts To Screwball Heaven!
Ball Of Fire has always been one of my very favorite Screwball Comedies, and it is wonderful to see it finally on sale for a quite affordable price. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Smrz
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great quality! delivered on time and when expected. love Gary Cooper such an incredible actor
Published 2 months ago by Amanda E. Peluso
5.0 out of 5 stars Ball of Fun.
Gary Cooper is Professor Potts or is he Sheldon from the past. Based loosely on Snow White and the Seven dwarfs, we meet 8 learned men who have spent 9 years working on an... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bwhami
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