The Twin Geeks 108: Ball of Fire (1941)

Coming off the heels of his most celebrated comedy successes, director Howard Hawks would lend his veteran sensibilities to the screenwriting talents of one pre-directorial Billy Wilder, who would soon take his cues from Hawks’ proven methodology and apply them to his own filmmaking craft the following year. Ball of Fire was the last script Wilder wrote with his first great collaborator Charles Brackett before venturing forth into directing himself, and it just may be one of the finest works either man ever contributed to. The story of eight plucky professors thrown off course by the wiles of a sumptuous underworld princess is rife with the clever play on words, structural set ups and pay offs, and whip smart witticisms that would become common within Wilder’s signature films as well. As far as a work of wordsmithing, there may not be a better example of a film that hinges on the importance of language, and the various secs of jargon, lingo, and slang that play a role in our daily communication. All of this is rendered through Hawks’ keen staging and handling of actors, and with the likes of Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck at the helm, the romance of Wilder’s script is sure to leave you starstruck. With a sizable supporting cast of lovable characters to the incomparable talents of Gregg Toland behind the lens, Ball of Fire is stuffed with laudable assets, all coming together to create on of the most clever, endearing, hilarious, and entertaining pictures to come out of the Hollywood Studio System.

0:00 The curse of embargoes
7:24 Little Fish
12:33 La Llorona
16:08 Sherman’s March (1986)
22:05 Til Madness Do Us Part (2013)
27: 25 Ball of Fire

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