Ball of Fire

35mm Archival Print


Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Dana Andrews, Dan Duryea,

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Within the wooded walls and fusty halls of the home graciously provided them by the Totten Foundation live and work eight mossy professors, researching and “updating” an encyclopedia that becomes obsolete faster than the doddering pedants can down their morning prunes. Among them, Professor Potts (Gary Cooper) stands out as the youngest, all the more priggish for his youth. At S for Slang, a field trip turns up a gold mine of information in the form of Sugarpuss O’Shea (Barbara Stanwyck), a nightclub singer and gangster’s moll whom the gentlemen adopt as their own Snow White. The sparks that this long-legged ball of fire lights under Cooper’s hilariously demure Potts make for a belated coming of age. The script was written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett, but as Andrew Sarris put it, “The regression of intellectual man to the level of caveman is accomplished here in the fast raucous style which is invariably the Hawksian trademark.”

Judy Bloch
  • Billy Wilder
  • Charles Brackett
  • Thomas Monroe
Based On
  • a story by Billy Wilder

  • Gregg Toland
Print Info
  • B&W
  • 35mm
  • 111 mins
  • UCLA Film & Television Archive
  • Park Circus