Ball of Fire Howard Hawks

Ball of Fire Howard Hawks
This isn’t prime Howard Hawks by any stretch but its screwball spin on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs still makes for a sparkling bit of Hollywood fluff. Gary Cooper stars as Bertram Potts, the youngest of a team of cloistered academics labouring hard on a new encyclopaedia. When researching "slang” for said volume, Cooper crosses paths with Sugarpuss O’Shea (Barbara Stanwyck), who agrees to guide him through newer variants should he put her up in their living quarters. What the eggheads don’t know is that O’Shea is a gangster’s moll who needs to elude the police and thinks Potts and company are her ticket across state lines. Bad news: Potts falls in love. Better news: so does O’Shea. The film doesn’t quite hit the high notes of wit that it strains for — the Billy Wilder/Charles Brackett screenplay is a little too airtight in its plotting and a little too condescending to the childlike intellectuals who populate its self-serving fancy. But you buy the conceit even if you don’t believe it; whatever the limitations of the script, it’s full of bits of business and smart dialogue that aim to please and get within spitting distance of a bullseye. There’s even a bit of emotional heft as Cooper pours his heart out about his stunted feelings and the one widower of the group recalls the love he lost. Anchored by a great spitfire turn by Stanwyck and allowing for Cooper at his most innocent and befuddled, it’s fairly solid entertainment that will keep you occupied long enough to forgive its weaker moments and savour the successes when they happen. (MGM)