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Before he revolutionized the women's film with such gleefully melodramatic works as Written on the Wind and Magnigicent Obsession, director Douglas Sirk made a series of glossy thrillers flavored by European settings (shortly after his emigration to the U.S. from Germany). Like the films for which he would become famous, Lured revels in the glamour and romance that Hollywood had honed to perfection, and plays every scene -- every coy glance, every deadly encounter -- the melodramatic hilt. In Lured, a serial killer terrorized London, trapping his prey through personal ads in the newspaper and taunting the police with gruesome poems. A Scotland Yard detective (Charles Coburn) enlists the aid of a feisty American redhead (a truly captivating Lucille Ball) to draw the murderer into the dragnet, and leads her across the paths of a variety of peculiar suspects -- including a demented clothing designer (Boris Karloff) and an international playboy (George Saunders) -- all of whom seem to have designs on the Yard's most delectable decoy.
Lucille Ball is in fine pre-TV form--still more the glamorous redhead than the slapstick comedienne--in Lured, Douglas Sirk's elegantly handled low-budget whodunit. Ball plays an American nightclub dancer in London, recruited by the police as a decoy for a serial killer--a maniac who finds his victims through the newspaper personal ads. The guilty party isn't difficult to guess, but the script by Leo Rosten is more literate than most such endeavors, and it's fun to watch our out-of-place heroine brazen it out in the London fog. George Sanders is the most cultivated of her suitors, and there's a weird sequence featuring Boris Karloff as a dress designer with crackpot designs on Lucy. Maybe best of all, the film has a crowd of good character actors: Charles Coburn (as a Scotland Yard inspector who becomes protective of his amateur agent), Cedric Hardwicke, Alan Mowbray, Joseph Calleia, and especially George Zucco, a frequent movie villain in a sympathetic role as an avuncular cop. Sirk brings his Germanic precision to the details, and cameraman William Daniels (Greta Garbo's favorite) no doubt had a hand in making Ball look good. Lured was subsequently re-titled Personal Column, much to Sirk's annoyance. --Robert Horton
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Top customer reviews
This 1940's movie is in b/w and was done before all of that and is more mystery than melodrama. It stars Lucille Ball in a role where she shows her fine dramatic acting talent by playing the part of a hired hostess (no, not a prostitute) turned detective. The story, which is set in London, revolves around a series of murders of young women. Since one of the first missing and later found murdered girls was Sanda (that is, Ball's character in the film) friend, Sanda is hired by Police Inspector Temple (played so well by Charles Coburn) to set a trap for the killer in which, you guessed it, Sanda is the bait.
A young and handsome George Sanders is appealing as the obvious suspect and also Sanda's romantic interest. Minor roles by the supporting cast contribute to making this a fine film noir to watch, e.g. Charles Coburn, Boris Karloff, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, and whoever played Sanda's police bodyguard. Considering the murders involved there are a couple comedic scenes (not sure if intended or not); but Lucille's character isn't the funny one in this flick. Bottom line is that this is just a long forgotten but good movie with a somewhat surprising but nonetheless suspenseful ending. Bought it for $2.99 and downloaded it here for my Amazon Video Library so I can watch it with my husband eventually too.
The experienced cast is a delight to watch with George Sanders as a charming, debonair cad (as usual); Charles Coburn as the methodical but fatherly detective (a bit of miscasting there, but he pulls it off); and Lucille Ball as the shrewd, captivating heroine of our tale in one of her non-comedic roles. I enjoyed watching everyone, including Boris Karloff who plays the odd part of an insane haute couture designer to the hilt, although he is on the screen for only about 10 minutes. (Why, pray tell, is Karloff's photo on the cover of the DVD, when his role in the movie is such a minor one?) Only Sir Cedric Hardwick appears to be dispassionately walking through his part, although the story's denouement may explain why.
The print of the film is sharp and crisp for the most part, although a few short scenes appear to have been taken from an inferior source and contain some distracting artifacts. The sound varies from reel to reel, but is generally good and always acceptable. Overall, this is a fine print of an engaging film, and especially interesting because of Lucille Ball who successfully (I think) pulls off a dramatic role with balance and assurance.
Lucille Ball is known generally as wacky Lucy from TV, but prior to that she was a very glamourous, very beautiful actress in B pictures, mostly. This is one of her best roles, and it makes you wish someone had smacked her upside the head and convinced her to do more, especially as she aged beyond wacky Lucy. Had she allowed herself to mature, she could have had a whole different career. (Of course, she died a multimillionaire, so maybe I'm wrong!)
Anyway, this DVD is highly recommended. The picture quality is far superior to many 30s and 40s films making their way to DVD. I do wish, though, there were some bonus features. How about a retrospective of Lucy's pre-TV career? Or a trailer? Or...anything!
Most recent customer reviews
carry this film noir.The plot is OK
and the video quality is terrific!