Monday, April 6, 2009

Ball of Fire (1942) ~ A Recipe for Success


3 Gangsters
1 Hard Nosed Dana Andrews
1 Sexy Barbara Stanwyck
7 Loveable Professors
1 Uptight Maid
1 Tall, Goofy yet Charming Gary Cooper
A few extra bit players with good parts

Script Elements:
A generous helping of Comedy
1 pinch of Drama
A dash of Sex
A sprinkling of 1940's slang
Spoonfuls of good dialogue
Several parts Romance
1 homage to Snow White and the Seven Dwarves
Silly character names (optional)


Preheat your DVD player.

With a Billy Wilder, a Charles Brackett and a Thomas Monroe, write your script for Howard Hawks' direction. Add generous doses of Comedy. This will provide you with the majority of the plot. Mix by hand while adding pinches of Drama to create interesting tension. When thoroughly combined add the Sex, enough to spice things up but not too much to get us in trouble with the Legion of Decency. Mix in dialogue and generous sprinklings of slang to keep the initial cultural element of proper speech versus 1940's colloquialisms interesting. Spoonfuls of good dialogue are essential to round out the script. Add Romance to please the women in your audience and 1 homage to a classic fairy tale just to make this film unique. For a final touch, add some silly character names just for fun.

Set aside script elements and work on the actors. Start with your character actors. Mix separately those characters who epitomize education, namely the 7 professors. Then add in one uptight maid to prevent those professors from getting too excited. Add Gary Cooper as Prof. Potts to introduce some youthfulness to the mix. Make sure you give him top billing! Now for the characters with street smarts. First you'll need various bit players with charisma. If you have an excellent Garbage-man in the form of Allen Jenkins throw him in! Add your gangsters for some excitement and violence. Now you'll need your leading lady. She needs to ooze sexiness and wit but also be genuine. You can't go wrong with an enchanting Barbara Stanwyck as Sugarpuss O'Shea. You'll notice that when you throw Stanwyck in, chemistry will happen between her and Cooper. You can't make it too easy on the mixture, so right before you are done, throw in Dana Andrews as Joe Lilac to get in the way of their romance. This will keep things flavorful and satisfying.

Turn mixture into a DVD and insert into player. Bake for 1 hour and 51 minutes and enjoy!


  1. Oh, Perfect! I'd love to see more from your recipe box :)

  2. Yum! I think I'll go make this right now! ;)

    (seriously, though - this is a fantastic idea!)

  3. Nice. This movie is pure fun. I love the "match boogie" scene and the gorgeous Gregg Toland photography in general -- so many deeply romantic images, like the silhouetted kiss between Stanwyck and Cooper in her dark hotel room.

  4. I love this film! Got introduced to it by my film tutor at the University of Sheffield, and so glad he did introduce me. Just love Howard Hawks, such a shame this film doesn't hardly ever get mentioned. No idea why. Stanwyk and Cooper (first film in which I realised how handsome and great he was)have brilliant chemistry,as the feisty dancer and the bumbling professor (reminds me of characters in the great'Lady Eve', which Stanwyk was also in and another Hawks film and personal fave 'Bringing Up Baby'). Love the scene where Cooper learns to box from an instruction manuel.
    Great blog btw feel free to check out mine too:

  5. Love the approach, and its non-fattening! One of my favorite comedies, but now I have to watch it during a gourmet meal.

  6. I knew you'd like this movie! Great format idea. :)

  7. I loved the format of this post. A great way to approach the film.

  8. Somehow it had previously escaped my notice that Dana Andrews has a supporting role in this film...thanks to your post I'm bumping my video up higher in the "watch soon" stack. :)

    Best wishes,

  9. I took the doctor's prescription for this last week with a friend (the more medicated persons in the room, the merrier!), and I must say - I still feel mighty fine! I think we may have found the cure for cancer.

  10. What a great idea for a post! I'm horrible at cooking food, but this movie recipe seems easy enough. I haven't seen this movie forever, even though I own it! It'll be next on my need to see again list : )

  11. I hereby give you the Splash Award for an inspiring blog!

    Read more in my blog post:

  12. Howard Hawks + Barbara Stanwyck = I am DESPERATE to see this movie!

  13. Your classic film acumen is impressive. If the detectives on one of those forensic TV shows had a question about Norma Shearer, I think they would come visit you.

    I don't watch many movies in the way of Golden Age of Hollywood, but would like to start. Your site is the best possible gateway I could think of for this.

    Keep these articles coming. I'm curious to see what is revealed when you pull the curtain back on the super secret project.

  14. Kate - Thank you. I'll try to keep baking...

    Jonas - Delicious, no? And it's 0 calories.

    Casey - Enjoy!

    Ed- The match scene was incredible! I should have included that in the list of ingredients.

    Priscilla - Hawks was superb!

    Operator 99 - Hmmm... You just gave me an idea...

    Lisa - Thank you! You are the reason this film went up in my queue.

    Mercurie - Thanks! I knew everyone had probably seen it so I had to be creative in my review of it.

    Laura - Dana Andrews was given such a silly name and a bad fake scar on his face. Otherwise he's his usual charming self.

    Genevieve - You own this film! Superb. I need to own a copy too.

    Lolita - If movies could cure cancer...

    Liv - Let me know when you do!

    Joe - I would love to be the leading Norma Shearer expert. I still have a ways to go though. Thanks for stopping by!

    Sarah - Thanks!

  15. I just spend couple of days looking for the name of this movie. I've seen it once over 20 years ago, when I was little. All I can remember was the professors and the scene at the end, when Cary Grant is learning hot to box from the manual (thanks Priscilla for confirming this is the movie I was looking for). Thanks to Google and some tricky choice of keywords, I stumbled upon this site. Thanks a lot!


Leave me a comment! If it is a long one, make sure you save a draft of it elsewhere just in case Google gobbles it up and spits it out.

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