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Drum Boogie in 'Ball of Fire'


Katie_G
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I'm with you on this one, Katie_G.  You just gotta love it when the boys in the band set aside their instruments and pitch in with the vocals!   But Stanwyck is simply top-notch when it comes to doing that nightclub act.   And later on in the house of the 7 dwarfs, her gown shimmers and glitters like nobody's business.  

Yes, "Ball of Fire" is always at the top of our movie-viewing list.  

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It's really a fun movie, always makes me feel good.

Of course Babs, Coop, and the gentlemen professors are so entertaining, I love them. But I'd also like to give special mention to two of my favourite actors, both of whom appear later in a number of noirs  ( but that's not the only reason I like them):  Dana Andrews in an atypical role as the bad guy,  and Dan Duryea as one of his henchmen.

And yes,  the "Drum Boogie" number is great fun !

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1 hour ago, misswonderly3 said:

Of course Babs, Coop, and the gentlemen professors are so entertaining, I love them. But I'd also like to give special mention to two of my favourite actors, both of whom appear later in a number of noirs  ( but that's not the only reason I like them):  Dana Andrews in an atypical role as the bad guy,  and Dan Duryea as one of his henchmen.

 

For an idea of the largely unrealized versatility of Dana Andrews as an actor take a look at the hard boiled wise guy gangster he plays in Ball of Fire, as opposed to his sensitive portrayal of the lynch mob victim in The Ox Bow Incident. He had also delivered a sensitive portrayal of a young man growing into adulthood as he resists his dominant father in Swamp Water. After the success of his portrait of the hard boiled detective in Laura Andrews would be pretty much type cast as macho guys (though he would be allowed some sensitive moments, again, in The Best Years of Our Lives, probably his finest work as an actor, for my money).

Hamlette's Soliloquy: "Ball of Fire" (1941)The Ox-Bow Incident (William A. Wellman, 1943) – Offscreen

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Ball of Fire is a favorite of mine and one of the films that really got me into studio-era films.    At the time I was into Bogart films (going to Hollywood revival theaters and seeing many of his films on the big screen,  and other noir films).    So  I go to Hollywood to see Double Indemnity and Strange Loves  of Martha Ivers.      So now I'm into Howard Hawks (those two Bogart films) and now Barbara Stanwyck,    and Duryea and Andrews for their noir films.       At the same time I was really getting into jazz and learning to play the great American songbook.    It wasn't long before I discovered Ball of Fire.      

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That's quite a journey you took there, JAMESJAZ(Z)GUITAR.  I'm always fascinated reading about the things that draw people into certain styles or types of art.  Or just aspects of life itself, for that matter.  What around us gives us joy and an experience of beauty?

 That's why I like the James Mason speech so much in "A Star is Born" when he is explaining to Judy Garland why he thinks she is a one-of-a-kind singer.  

And thanks for that little glimpse into your remembrance of things past.   

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29 minutes ago, Terrence1 said:

It's no wonder that Stanwyck was Oscar-nominated for this movie.

What might be a wonder is why Stanwyck wasn't Oscar-nominated for 3 of her 1941 films,   The Lady Eve,  Meet John Doe, and Ball of Fire.

What a year, what an actress!

 

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All this talk about Stanwyck. But what about Cooper? He was hardly a slouch in 1941 either, with Meet John Doe and Sergeant York, in addition to Ball of Fire. Not only did he win an Oscar for York but he would be nominated for Oscars in the two succeeding years, as well, with Pride of the Yankees and For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Cooper and Stanwyck would be reunited a decade later for Blowing Wild, not a highlight in anyone's career but a film that can be enjoyed in a "so bad's it's good" sort of way as a combination action and soap opera. Nah, perhaps it's better to remember them instead as the shy awkward professor and the slang spewing show girl in Ball of Fire.

Cocosse | Journal: Flick Review < Ball of Fire | Howard Hawks, 1941

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47 minutes ago, Toto said:

Love this film and "Drum Boogie" is great.    Want to give a mention to Gene Kupra who played himself and did an amazing job with drums - even drumming with matchsticks!

Yea,   I love the opening to this film and that matchsticks scene is hot diggity!     The change in the lighting,  the whisperings,  and then the payoff with the match lighting is Hollywood magic.   

Note that future-to-be iconic noir character actor Elisha Cook Jr.  plays a waiter in this scene.   

  

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14 hours ago, TomJH said:

All this talk about Stanwyck. But what about Cooper?

I don't care for Cooper, but find him tolerable when coupled with Stanwyck- he's the perfect dope for her.

15 hours ago, JamesJazGuitar said:

What might be a wonder is why Stanwyck wasn't Oscar-nominated for 3 of her 1941 films,   The Lady Eve,  Meet John Doe, and Ball of Fire.

Heh, those are the first three movies I showed MrTiki to introduce him to my "classic movie" passion. Stanwyck absolutely won him over & he's now a complete Cinephile...and he still calls bubbas "Heelots".

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7 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

I don't care for Cooper, but find him tolerable when coupled with Stanwyck- he's the perfect dope for her.

 

"The perfect dope" - well there's a dismissive compliment if ever there was one.

A lot of people have a tendency to underrate Cooper. But within his narrow range he played in adventures (Lives of a Bengal Lancer, Beau Geste, etc.), westerns (The Westerner, High Noon, etc.), romantic comedies (Desire, one of my favourite Coop performances). He also played a couple of real life all American heroes (Alvin York and Lou Gehrig). He could play it tight lipped macho (The Plainsman, General Died at Dawn, For Whom the Bell Tolls) as well as sensitive homespun Capra heroes (Mr. Deeds, Meet John Doe).

As he experimented with his screen image towards the end of his career the results were mixed but he brought sensitivity to a soap opera about a middle aged man finding love for the first time with a younger woman (Ten North Frederick), brought a sensitive mix  of gentle humour and human anguish to the role of a Quaker father in Friendly Persuasion and, in a total contrast, effectively played a tortured man with a mystery past (The Hanging Tree). And, of course, in addition to all these, was his endearingly naive Professor Potts in Ball of Fire.

Yes he gave some performances that seemed stiff and didn't really work, but the sheer number of effective performances is noteworthy. And as a recipient of five Oscar nominations (winning twice) and making it into the Quigley's top ten box office lists a record 18 times, Cooper was one of the most popular stars of his era (as well as one of the wealthiest). And he was still getting lead roles in "A" productions at the end of his 37 year career. In that respect, even if his name no longer has the recognition it once enjoyed, Gary Cooper was one of the most successful actors in show biz history.

I've always found it fascinating that John Wayne's name has outlasted Cooper's in fame. Cooper showed more range as an actor but, of course, he died years earlier. Wayne's more macho screen image would also register more with modern audiences, too, I assume. Can anyone envision John Wayne as Professor Potts?

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While I agree you can't go wrong with Krupa, I gotta say if I'm gonna sit through a nightclub singer's act, I prefer(from this IMHO excellent remake) THIS one!  ;) 

And JAMES, as a jazz man, you might get a kick out of this jam from the same movie ;) 

Sepiatone

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23 minutes ago, Terrence1 said:

It's really a shame that Stanwyck didn't make more comedies.  She was always so great.  Even in  her lesser known movies like "The Mad Miss Manton" and "You Belong to Me"  she really shines.

With Ball of Fire and The Lady Eve both released in 1941 that has to rank as Stanwyck's best year for film comedy. She's great in both films.

Christmas in Connecticut, of course, has its charms, a well. I believe that was the last time she was in a comedy.

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10 hours ago, TomJH said:

"The perfect dope" - well there's a dismissive compliment if ever there was one.

A lot of people have a tendency to underrate Cooper. But within his narrow range he played in adventures (Lives of a Bengal Lancer, Beau Geste, etc.), westerns (The Westerner, High Noon, etc.), romantic comedies (Desire, one of my favourite Coop performances). He also played a couple of real life all American heroes (Alvin York and Lou Gehrig). He could play it tight lipped macho (The Plainsman, General Died at Dawn, For Whom the Bell Tolls) as well as sensitive homespun Capra heroes (Mr. Deeds, Meet John Doe).

As he experimented with his screen image towards the end of his career the results were mixed but he brought sensitivity to a soap opera about a middle aged man finding love for the first time with a younger woman (Ten North Frederick), brought a sensitive mix  of gentle humour and human anguish to the role of a Quaker father in Friendly Persuasion and, in a total contrast, effectively played a tortured man with a mystery past (The Hanging Tree). And, of course, in addition to all these, was his endearingly naive Professor Potts in Ball of Fire.

Yes he gave some performances that seemed stiff and didn't really work, but the sheer number of effective performances is noteworthy. And as a recipient of five Oscar nominations (winning twice) and making it into the Quigley's top ten box office lists a record 18 times, Cooper was one of the most popular stars of his era (as well as one of the wealthiest). And he was still getting lead roles in "A" productions at the end of his 37 year career. In that respect, even if his name no longer has the recognition it once enjoyed, Gary Cooper was one of the most successful actors in show biz history.

I've always found it fascinating that John Wayne's name has outlasted Cooper's in fame. Cooper showed more range as an actor but, of course, he died years earlier. Wayne's more macho screen image would also register more with modern audiences, too, I assume. Can anyone envision John Wayne as Professor Potts?

I'm with TOKISOO on this one. Yes, Cooper played a good range of characterss, but, for me, I always felt someone else in those roles could have done a better job. I just don't get the love for him. I always have to suspend more disbelief watching him, because he sold me his character very easily, so to speak. These things are so subjective. Clearly we are in the minority, because he was so popular, but there are a a fair number of people who feel he just doesn't do it for them.

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5 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

Stanwyck  was always an actress I could take or leave.  Competent at her craft, sure.  But no great shakes. 

Sepiatone

Again, these things are completely subjective, but, once you've seen her in Double Indemnity, you can totally buy into her as a chick with a tough exterior and a vulnerability on the inside. That formula provides you with a lot of range options for an actress, and I think she crushed it on most, if not all, of her roles.

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1 hour ago, David Proulx said:

I'm with TOKISOO on this one. Yes, Cooper played a good range of characterss, but, for me, I always felt someone else in those roles could have done a better job. I just don't get the love for him. I always have to suspend more disbelief watching him, because he sold me his character very easily, so to speak. These things are so subjective. Clearly we are in the minority, because he was so popular, but there are a a fair number of people who feel he just doesn't do it for them.

Well Dave and just so you'll know, Coop's brilliance as an actor was primarily done with his eyes, and which by themselves could reflect genuine human emotions without the aid of his mouth delivering dialogue...

1491925142257.gif&ehk=oFYdg92t2GsKoCjltK

(...and few film actors before or since have ever mastered this as well)

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30 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Well Dave and just so you'll know, Coop's brilliance as an actor was primarily done with his eyes, and which by themselves could reflect genuine human emotions without the aid of his mouth delivering dialogue...

1491925142257.gif&ehk=oFYdg92t2GsKoCjltK

(...and few film actors before or since have ever mastered this as well)

And that, my friend, is where we part company, if you will. I've always felt that "Aw shucks" eye movement was a little bit of an overact and a bit goofy. I guess when I think about why he doesn't do it for me, he just has no watchable appeal for me. Even things I like him enough in, I've imagined who I'd rather have seen in his place. Sorry.

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1 hour ago, Dargo said:

Well Dave and just so you'll know, Coop's brilliance as an actor was primarily done with his eyes, and which by themselves could reflect genuine human emotions without the aid of his mouth delivering dialogue...

1491925142257.gif&ehk=oFYdg92t2GsKoCjltK

(...and few film actors before or since have ever mastered this as well)

Coop was one of the great minimalist performers of his time and, yes, he could register so much emotion with just his eyes.

At his best, in my opinion, in films like The Westerner, Meet John Doe, Sergeant York, when he delivered his heart breaking "Luckiest man on the face of the earth" speech in Pride of the Yankees, and later as the Quaker father in Friendly Persuasion, I'm hard pressed to think of anyone in his time who could have matched him in those roles.

GoodBadHistory: Pride Of The Yankees (1942) And The Propaganda Of  Exceptionalism – Good Bad Taste

From Wikipedia:

Cooper's ability to project his personality onto his characters played an important part in his appearing natural and authentic on screen. Actor John Barrymore said of Cooper, "This fellow is the world's greatest actor. He does without effort what the rest of us spend our lives trying to learn—namely, to be natural."[88]Charles Laughton, who played opposite Cooper in Devil and the Deep agreed, "In truth, that boy hasn't the least idea how well he acts ... He gets at it from the inside, from his own clear way of looking at life."[88] William Wyler, who directed Cooper in two films, called him a "superb actor, a master of movie acting"

Cooper's style of underplaying before the camera surprised many of his directors and fellow actors. Even in his earliest feature films, he recognized the camera's ability to pick up slight gestures and facial movements.[398] Commenting on Cooper's performance in Sergeant York, director Howard Hawks observed, "He worked very hard and yet he didn't seem to be working. He was a strange actor because you'd look at him during a scene and you'd think ... this isn't going to be any good. But when you saw the rushes in the projection room the next day you could read in his face all the things he'd been thinking."[174] Sam Wood, who directed Cooper in four films, had similar observations about Cooper's performance in Pride of the Yankees, noting, "What I thought was underplaying turned out to be just the right approach. On the screen he's perfect, yet on the set you'd swear it's the worst job of acting in the history of motion pictures."[399]

Fellow actors admired his abilities as an actor. Commenting on her two films playing opposite Cooper, actress Ingrid Bergman concluded, "The personality of this man was so enormous, so overpowering—and that expression in his eyes and his face, it was so delicate and so underplayed. You just didn't notice it until you saw it on the screen. I thought he was marvelous; the most underplaying and the most natural actor I ever worked with."

To Al Pacino, "Gary Cooper was a phenomenon—his ability to take some thing and elevate it, give it such dignity. One of the great presences.

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59 minutes ago, David Proulx said:

And that, my friend, is where we part company, if you will. I've always felt that "Aw shucks" eye movement was a little bit of an overact and a bit goofy. I guess when I think about why he doesn't do it for me, he just has no watchable appeal for me. Even things I like him enough in, I've imagined who I'd rather have seen in his place. Sorry.

Okay, I get THIS Dave, but it seems you've never noticed that Coop also played other characters which weren't all "Aw shucks" like the gif I posted up there.

Nope, those eyes of his could readily portray real human emotions such as "barely-controlled anger", "sudden surprise", "sympathy" and many many others and simply by the expression those eyes of his conveyed.

(...ya see, when I was younger myself and for a long time I also could never figure out Coop's "appeal" or why I'd hear so many other movie actors praise his acting style, however this was until about twenty-some years ago and when someone who was a big Gary Cooper fan brought this aspect of his to my attention, and then soon afterward I began to notice this about his acting style and he subsequently began ranking higher and higher on my list of film actors with each and every movie I'd see him in)

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16 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Okay, I get THIS Dave, but it seems you've never noticed that Coop also played other characters which weren't all "Aw shucks" like the gif I posted up there.

Nope, those eyes of his could readily portray real human emotions such as "barely-controlled anger", "sudden surprise", "sympathy" and many many others and simply by the expression those eyes of his conveyed.

(...ya see, when I was younger myself and for a long time I also could never figure out Coop's "appeal" or why I'd hear so many other movie actors praise his acting style, however this was until about twenty-some years ago and when someone who was a big Gary Cooper fan brought this aspect of his to my attention, and then soon afterward I began to notice this about his acting style and he subsequently began ranking higher and higher on my list of film actors with each and every movie I'd see him in)

I understand your appreciation for him and now the why. I know he's done movies w/o the "aw shucks", but it come across in the majority I've seen. When he plays more elite characters, I just never buy him in it, because he doesn't look polished enough (again, for me) to pull it off. I also have had a hard time buying him completely as a tough guy, because he doesn't have that look either. His eyes notwithstanding, it always feels to me that he's perpetually miscast, not fitting comfortably in whatever clothes they have him in. It's a taste thing, I suppose, so we'll have to agree to disagree.

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