marți, 26 iunie 2018

Ball of Fire, written by Billy Wilder, directed by Howard Hawks

Ball of Fire, written by Billy Wilder, directed by Howard Hawks

If you look at the credits, you will see beforehand that this is an outstanding work, directed, written by and starring deities of Hollywood and world cinema.

Barbara Stanwyck received a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Thomas Monroe and Billy Wilder - the creator of what may be the best comedy ever, Some Like It Hot - were nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, Original Story.

Gary Cooper - the granite sheriff from the glorious High Noon - has a comedy role here, although the main character, Professor Bertram Potts becomes a romantic figure after the first act, turning into a knight in shining armor almost.
The professor is a member of a group of distinguished experts, scholars who work together under the same roof, trying to finish - in three or four years perhaps - a new encyclopedia that would include all the wisdom of the world.

They are however isolated from the world, in their ivory tower, as it becomes apparent when an educated man speaks in slang and the erudite savants realize they understand very little, if anything, of what he says.
Therefore Professor Potts sets out of their remote, luxurious mansion with a notebook, listening to conversations in the public transport system, on the streets and finally listens to a celebrated singer intrigued and interested in the lines of her songs, with a spark of attraction probably already kindled.

Barbara Stanwyck is self assured, excellent in the role of Sugarpuss O'Shea, who is not interested when the professor talks about his project, the interest he has in identifying new words and including them in the encyclopedia.
She is the lover of a mob boss, Joe Lilac, who is investigated by the police, as a suspect in a murder case, wherein some evidence points out to Sugarpuss, as the person who could testify and thus incriminate the known criminal.

Suddenly, the idea of joining the professor and his Seven Dwarfs- as the Goodfellas joke on account of the eight prominent thinkers - becomes appealing, for the police wants the singer now and the best thing is to hide her some place, until they find a solution to the problem of the Godfather.
Hence she shows up at the door of the Encyclopedia Enterprise, willing to co operate with the brilliant minds, determined to spend the night, in spite of the protests of the hero, who thinks this inappropriate.

Some fever, the enthusiasm of the Seven aka Eight Dwarfs, the offer of one of the professors to have the guest in his room - there are raised eyebrows her - as he joins a colleague in another room, all contribute to convince the protagonist that this is the best solution.
Miss Bragg, the spinster who cares for all the old boys is against the prospect, so convinced that this must not be that she says she would quit if this woman would stay in that house.

Miss Bragg would have a confrontation with the singer and the latter would use a punch to knock the older woman down  and then lock her in a closet.
Meanwhile, professor Potts falls in love with Sugarpuss, does not see the situation- perhaps anything- clearly, buys a ring and declares his deep feelings, how he saw her in the light and has had to make efforts to control himself.

The declaration only comes after he asks her to leave and tries hard to concentrate on his noble work and ignore the distraction - of one tries to be negative or just realistic, he was right to be skeptical, for given the unbridgeable difference in education, interests, sophistication, goals in life and more, it is very u likely- one chance in a million- that such a relationship would work.

In spite of the saying " opposites attract" which is the point of this motion picture.

Sugarpuss agrees to marry, Lilac pretends on the phone to be her father and calls on the hero to bring the bride to her parents, which is in fact a scheme to get the woman to him, avoiding the police blocks and checkpoints.
The plan is for the singer to marry the mobster and therefore avoid testifying with a solid, legal excuse, since the law stipulates that a spouse cannot take the stand against her husband.

There are comical traps, Reversals of Fortune, with the naive professor knocked on the floor by the villain, but with the chance for him to take a revenge, when Snow White might reconsider her stand and instead of marrying Dark Vader, she might opt for the intelligent, handsome, kind, decent, humane Prince Charming.

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