Forman’s hilarious, Oscar-nominated satire of life under Communism—“banned forever” in Czechoslovakia following the Soviet invasion of 1968—takes place at a ball staged by the volunteer fire brigade of a small Czech town where everything that can go wrong does. A beauty contest is organized, but the contestants refuse to participate. Raffle prizes disappear from a table before they can be awarded. And, in the movie’s pièce de resistance, an actual fire erupts nearby, forcing this semi-competent brigade to spring into action.
“The last, best, and funniest movie Milos Forman would make in his native Czechoslovakia, The Firemen’s Ball is a deceptively simple miniature. This 73-minute movie, its premise scarcely more than an anecdote, finds an entire universe in the benefit gala staged by a group of inept, officious, mildly corrupt—in short, intensely human—volunteer firefighters.”