Ball of Fire: Favorite Moments

— “14 watercolors …” (said by one of the old professors in a tone of slow bewilderment)

— A knock comes at the door. The professors flutter about. “It’s 2 in the morning! Who could that be!” And Henry Travers (better known as “Clarence” in It’s a Wonderful Life) – who plays one of the professors – interjects: “Oh, that might be the statistics on San Salvadoran saltpeter.”

It is such a RIDICULOUS line, and he says it SO SERIOUSLY – I guffaw every time I see it. I can feel the intelligent wit of Billy Wilder (who wrote the screenplay) sparkling through that. “Okay, so what will this professor be studying … that will make this moment funny …” Ah yes, of course, he is waiting for the statistics on Sal Salvadoran saltpeter.

— Barbara Stanwyck is deliciously good.

— And a bumbling cerebral Gary Cooper is BEYOND sexy. Like … he’s so sexy that it is almost not fair. The cliche of the big hunky guy playing a repressed geek (Cary Grant trademarked this – but Cooper ain’t no slouch at it) When he asks her, almost inaudibly, if she could “yum” him one more time… He’s too shy to even say “kiss”. I mean, I find him disturbingly sexy.

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