“It’s getting hotter and hotter, so stay in the icebox like a good little salad.”
A shy musicologist (Danny Kaye) falls in love with a gangster’s moll (Virginia Mayo) in hiding to protect her boyfriend (Steve Cochran).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Danny Kaye Films
- Howard Hawks Films
- Virginia Mayo Films
It’s somewhat surprising to learn that this tepid musical remake of Howard Hawks’ Ball of Fire (1941) was actually helmed by Hawks himself — that is, until one reads TCM’s article on the film, where it’s noted that Hawks — who “always said he hated” the film, and considered its production “an altogether horrible experience” — “never watched the rushes or even saw the final product”; apparently he agreed to do the work for Samuel Goldwyn “purely because of the $250,000 paycheck it delivered”. Knowing that Kaye had recently separated from his wife (lyricist Sylvia Fine) and was undergoing daily counseling may explain why (in Hawks’ own words) Kaye is “about as funny as a crutch” in the film:
Indeed, since he’s only given a handful of opportunities to exhibit his trademark wit, he seems horribly miscast. Fortunately, Virginia Mayo (while arguably no match for Barbara Stanwyck in the original) brings some much needed energy and brio to the proceedings; whenever she’s on-screen, the story is at least bearable. Jazz fans will probably find value in seeing some legendary musicians gathered together here, but the rest of this clunker is eminently skippable.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Virginia Mayo as Honey Swanson
- Some enjoyable musical sequences by jazz greats (including Benny Goodman in “cameo” as one of Kaye’s uptight musicologist buddies)
No; this one is only must see viewing for Howard Hawks completists, or diehard Danny Kaye fans.