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Thursday, June 26, 2008

BALL OF FIRE (1941)


For his last pre-hyphenate credit, Billy Wilder came up with the very cute premise of eight cloistered Professors forced out of their academic shell when they need to research ‘slang.’ But ‘cute’ was never the forte of helmer Howard Hawks and the third act complications devolve into Damon Runyonesque comic mob tropes that only remind you how much better Wilder handled this in SOME LIKE IT HOT/’59. (One of the Profs even references the St. Valentine’s Day massacre.) The ultra-smooth Samuel Goldwyn production polish also tends to slow things down, but the extraordinary rapport between Gary Cooper & Barbara Stanwyck makes up for a lot of rinky-dink twinkling from the other professors. Wile away the longueurs deciding who’s playing Sneezy, Grumpy, Sleepy, Doc, Bashful, Dopey & Happy.

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