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706 Ratings

Ball of Fire

Directed by Howard Hawks
United States, 1941
Comedy, Romance


A group of buttoned-up, ivory-tower lexicographers realize they need to go out into the real world and hear how people actually talk—and end up helping a beautiful nightclub singer escape from the Mob.

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Ball of Fire Directed by Howard Hawks

Awards & Festivals

Academy Awards

1942 | 4 nominations including: Best Actress in a Leading Role

National Film Preservation Board

2016 | Winner: National Film Registry

Ball of Fire doesn’t always reach the same heights of hilarious Hawks perfection as Twentieth Century (1934), Bringing Up Baby, and His Girl Friday (1940), and Wilder was at his most proficient when directing his own scripts, yet all involved are doing what they do best. Even if it isn’t the finest example of their individual strengths, there is still much to appreciate about this delightfully silly entry into the screwball subgenre. With all of this talent, how could there not be?
January 08, 2016
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Not as well-known as some other Howard Hawks films, Ball of Fire, starring Gary Cooper as the nerdy linguistics professor (only in Hollywood ) and Barbara Stanwyck as the wise-cracking two-bit showgirl Sugarpuss O’Shea is one of my favorite Hawks films. It has all the familiar Hawks-ian elements: men doing manly stuff in a masculine cloister, a cloister disrupted by a compelling wise-cracking dame who livens the mood, bringing the possibility of sex with her.
December 24, 2015
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The patter that flows forth whenever some regular Joe flaps his jaws is a wonder to hear. Garbagemen and waiters, pool hall bums and showgirls, newsboys and college boys — they’re all virtuosos singing the wisecracking arias Wilder and Brackett have given them.
December 22, 2015
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