Ball of Fire (1941) Movie Review

Ball of Fire (1941)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper in Ball of Fire (1941)

The Sword of Damocles

Professor Bertram Potts (Gary Cooper) is part of a group of experts who for the last 7 years have been compiling the definitive encyclopaedia with each having their own speciality. It is how one night ends up at a club to learn about current slang and he comes across dynamite nightclub singer Sugarpuss O'Shea (Barbara Stanwyck). O'Shea's gangster boyfriend is suspected of murder and the DA wants her testimony to help put him away. Needing a place to hideout she ends up at the research facility thinking she will use Potts until the smoke clears and she can return to her life. But O'Shea finds hanging around Potts and his seven eccentric friends life changing and not just for her as teaches him "yum-yum".

I watched "A Song Is Born" for the first time a little whole ago, for those who don't know it is a musical remake of "Ball of Fire", and to be honest enjoyed it but didn't feel it was Danny Kaye at his best. So now I find myself watching "Ball of Fire" and whilst I found it entertaining it wasn't the roaring comedy which I was hoping it would be. Don't get me wrong as watching Barbara Stanwyck play a streetwise nightclub singer who talks in slang is certainly entertaining whilst Gary Cooper is fun as the naive to love professor who finds himself smitten. In fact both these two as well as those paying the other professors have wonderful control of their performances and deliver the dialogue with so much fun and character.

The thing is that for me "Ball of Fire" ends up fun but drawn out with several scenes delivering the laughs but lots of scenes which don't feel like they are going anywhere. It is why I have to be honest and say that at times it lost my interest because it seems to repeat itself. Maybe that comes from actually watching "A Song is Born" first but even when I watched that there was something about the storyline which failed to captivate me. To put this really simply I enjoyed "Ball of Fire" mainly because of Cary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck rather than for what happens.

What this all boils down to is that "Ball of Fire" is fun but for me it is fun for the performances rather than for what happens and sadly that means their are times when the storyline isn't strong enough to command your attention.