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With: Jan Vostrcil, Josef Sebanek, Josef Valnoha, Frantisek Debelka, Josef Kolb
Written by: Milos Forman, Jaroslav Papousek, Ivan Passer, based on a story by Václav Sasek
Directed by: Milos Forman
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Czech with English subtitles
Running Time: 73
Date: 12/15/1967

The Firemen's Ball (1967)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Highs and Hose

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Firemen's Ball was Milos Forman's last Czech film before fleeing to America. Filmed in full color, the film takes place entirely at the title ball where anything and everything goes wrong. All the items on the auction table get pinched, a group of beauty queens disappear into the bathroom, and when a fire breaks out during the party, the new fire truck gets stuck in the snow. Though Forman insisted that the movie contained no messages (he was inspired after attending a real firemen's ball) the film was banned for its so-called political assaults. Certainly the film's goofiness comes weighted with a worldly sadness that makes it all the more poignant. It may be Forman's greatest work.

DVD Details: The DVD from the Criterion Collection comes with a new Forman video interview and a beautiful new transfer. As a side note, both this and Forman's Loves of a Blonde were co-written assistant directed by Ivan Passer, who went on to become a director in his own right with films like Intimate Lighting and Cutter's Way.

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