The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, December 23-29

Howard Hawks’ BALL OF FIRE (1941). Courtesy Film Forum via Photofest. Playing December 25-31.
Courtesy Film Forum via Photofest.

Ball of Fire (1941)
Directed by Howard Hawks
Replace Snow White with a nightclub singer named Sugarpuss O’Shea and the Seven Dwarves with a kempt collection of owlish encyclopedists, and therein is the formula for this screwball comedy. Gary Cooper stars as Professor Bertram Potts, the leader of the academics who are working around the clock to develop a new dictionary that includes modern slang. Enter the temptress—Barbara Stanwyck’s glittering, silver-tongued moll—who has escaped from her handsy fiancee and boss to take refuge. The men take her in, and when her acerbic jive begins to fly (thanks to an astute screenplay from Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett), the gentlemen realize that they’ve found themselves knee-deep in a fruitful collaboration. Samantha Vacca (December 25-31 at Film Forum; showtimes daily)

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