Clare's Criterion Collection

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The Fireman’s Ball – Review # 11

The Fireman's Ball

Spine # 145

Available on DVD

Special Features:

  • New digital transfer, with restored image and sound
  • Video interview with director Milos Forman
  • A behind-the-scenes look at the transfer process, featuring cinematographer Miroslav Ondricek, and comments from Milos Forman
  • New and improved English subtitle translationNew cover by James Tung

Please note that whilst I try to not give away vital plot details/scenes/developments of the film, some reviews may contain mild spoilers.


This is a film of comical misery guts! Please don’t take that as a nasty comment, I enjoyed and laughed my way through this riotous comedy, its just packed with lots of complaining / miserable faces etc.  Maybe that it was made me laugh so much.

As the title suggests there is a Ball, organised (if you can call what you see organised) by fireman to celebrate the birthday of the previous Commanding Officer, a man who may or may not be dying!

Centre to the evening is the tombola, a raffle with gifts donated by the town folk. There was a cake but someone nicked it, this was especially bad news for the poor chap in charge of putting up the banner.  Other delights up for grabs are a pigs head and bottles of Pilsner Urquell. There is a slight problem though; before the guests arrive items start to go “missing”

On with the Ball itself, and what a Ball(s-up).

The “organising committee” spend all their time perving over the young ladies in the crowd whilst finding contestants for their beauty contest, a contest no one wants to enter.  Some of the youngsters get frisky; the look on the old man’s face when he looks under table is a class moment, old married couples bicker and argue about watching items on the tombola table and everyone skips out on paying their bill.

Of course there is a fire, would be rude not to have one when there is a room full of firemen.  They spring into action and after digging and pushing the fire truck out of the snow, are able to do absolutely nothing to stop the house burning to the ground.  Don’t worry, the Ball continues with the beauty Queen crowned and all the tombola prizes stolen.

And with that, everyone went home.

As I said at the start, I laughed my way through this.  It witty and sarcastic humour throughout, the kind I love.  If you want a good laugh you can’t go wrong with this film.

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