Seventy years ago on this date, the Howard Hawks-directed (and Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett-scripted) Ball of Fire premiered in movie theaters, and there’s an interesting backstory about the essay that I wrote to commemorate the occasion at Edward Copeland on Film…and More. Ed had originally planned to tackle it himself, but the DVD of the movie, released by MGM Home Video in 2007, is now OOP—they want $77.98 for a new copy over at Amazon.com, a tariff that is a little beyond Mr. Copeland’s budget. (Or anyone’s budget, for that matter.) A search to see if it was going to turn up on The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ also yielded no results.
Fortunately, I already owned a copy of this—when it was released by HBO Video in 1998—and so I agreed to take on the assignment…it gave me a chance to revisit what I think is one of the most entertaining of screwball comedies. I mention in the Copeland piece that it’s my favorite of Barbara Stanwyck’s films (and it is) and that in a saner world she would have nabbed the Oscar for her priceless comedic turn (no disrespect to winner Joan Fontaine, but she gives a better performance in Letter from an Unknown Woman). Co-star Gary Cooper did win an Academy Award that year, but for the Stacia-reviled Sergeant York…to be honest, I enjoy his performance in Fire a lot more.
I’m hoping that now I’ve completed a pair of Radio Spirits assignments I can get back to posting on a regular basis (or what passes for it) on the blog, but I did want to thank Brother Philip Schweier for his contributions during my absence…and to assure the new groupies he’s acquired that he’s sent in a few more reviews that I’m planning to put on the Thrilling Days of Yesteryear refrigerator soon. I also regret not getting up a traditional Thanksgiving greeting this year, so I hope everyone out there in YesteryearLand had a happy one; the ‘rents and I went over to sister Kat’s for the big meal where we not only had the traditional turkey but also a succulent rib roast prepared by sister K. Afterward, we were entertained by my nephew Davis with a medley of his hits including Itsy Bitsy Spider and some Yuletide-oriented fare (Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman). (To my dismay, my shouted requests of Freebird fell on deaf ears.)
Me-TV viewers probably noticed a small schedule change earlier this week in that the channel watched Marshal Dillon (the half-hour Gunsmokes) and Rawhide ride off into the sunset—I know Encore Westerns has acquired Rawhide for its schedule of classic TV oaters beginning next year but I don’t know about Dillon (the Me-TV reruns are far more beat up than the ones released on DVD by CBS-Paramount, by the way). Replacing Rawhide on the schedule is Mission: Impossible (yay) and coming off the bench for the Dillon repeats on late night weeknights is Peter Gunn…but the real treat will be on Saturday mornings (starting tomorrow) from 11-12 because Me-TV will introduce repeats of The Rebel into the rotation. A press release at the channel’s website says that Wagon Train and Have Gun – Will Travel are also planned for the near future…but I’m guessing that will be when Encore is done with them. So I’ll be clearing my schedule on Saturday mornings to watch Nick Adams as Johnny Yuma (I’ve never seen the show, but I can the Johnny Cash theme song on request) and I’m sure those of you who have an affiliate in your area will want to do the same.