Ball of Fire

Ball of Fire ★★★½

It may have a lightweight plot, but who cares when the screen is graced by a unique talent who owns just about every scene they’re in? I’m speaking of course of Dan Duryea, master of the psychotic supporting villain role. Can’t take my eyes off him.

Barbara Stanwyck is pretty good too.

I wouldn’t put this among the great screwball comedies. It’s got the snappy dialogue, which lives up to the slang-oriented setup. The chemistry more or less works, although it’s sort of a paler version of The Lady Eve. It’s missing social commentary, though, which is where Wilder is at his best. At the end of the day nothing’s disrupted.

Nonetheless, it’s a nice way to spend a couple of hours. Come for the Gene Krupa cameo, stay for the posse of great character actors assembled to play professors.

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