Lured

title cards for LURED

Like most people, I mainly know Douglas Sirk via the melodramas he directed (Imitation of Life, All That Heaven Allows, Written on the Wind), so my curiosity was piqued by a title of his screening on TCM this coming Thursday that I’d not heard of before starring Lucille Ball, George Sanders, Charles Coburn, and Boris Karloff. Lured (1947) concerns a serial killer in London who murders young women he meets via personal columns in the newspaper and then goes on to taunt Scotland Yard with cryptic poems influenced by Charles Baudelaire. This because, as we all know, poets who dare equate death with beauty must be delusional psychopaths at heart (in Baudelaire’s case an addiction to Laudanum probably didn’t help). Three LURED locations.

Sandra Carpenter (Lucille Ball) is an American in London working as a dime-a-dance girl. When one of her friends disappears and is feared the eighth victim of the “Poet Killer” she agrees to help Scotland Yard by going undercover and acting as bait to catch the killer. It would only be a mild spoiler to warn viewers – and specifically fans of Boris Karloff – that Karloff’s appearance is limited to an all-too-brief moment in the first act. Karloff, however, makes it a memorable scene, one enhanced by rich production designs and an appropriately creepy theatrical atmosphere as he stages a fashion show in front of empty chairs, a couple mannequins, and one rather demanding bulldog.

Karloff

Lured wants to be many things; a police procedural, a Hitchcockian thriller, a tale of romance, a noirish mystery. While safe to say that the film succeeds on most of these levels the running time feels ten-minutes long, the musical score is a bit too imposing, and there is a recurring attempt at humor involving crossword puzzles (predictably inserted at beginning, middle, and end) that falls flat. These are minor complaints when stacked up against the solid cast who all hit the right marks with aplomb and nice attention paid to period detail – as when a license I.D. card reveals that Lucille Ball’s character weighs 8.2 stones.

It is refreshing to see Lucille Ball playing it straight, and George Sanders’ cool, devilish charm never flags and remains a highlight second only to the wonderful locations – be they cobble-stoned exteriors on which double-decker buses roll through dark shadows, or the sumptuously draped interiors sporting various extravagant chandeliers. These sets provide a nice interplay between the playgrounds of the rich and the darkened alleyways where those less fortunate sometimes meet their end. The cinematographer, William Daniels, would next work as the Director of Photography on a widely-acclaimed film-noir directed by Jules Dassin the following year: The Naked City.

3 LURED interiors

4 Responses Lured
Posted By EGM3 : November 29, 2015 10:37 pm

I like watching Lucy in these type of roles much better than her comedy outings. It’s blasphemy, I know; but she really was good in straight performances.

Posted By AL : November 29, 2015 11:13 pm

Lucille Ball. People forget what a TrueBeauty she was…

Posted By swac44 : December 5, 2015 3:53 pm

Dang, in Canada, they showed Confessions of a Nazi Spy instead of Lured (despite my cable guide also saying the latter film). Was really hoping to catch up with this one.

Posted By john : July 30, 2016 3:41 am

What about Boris? Zany in original sense of word!

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