Tuesday, August 05, 2003

LURED (1947)

Interesting mystery directed by Douglas Sirk, better known for his glossy soap-opera melodramas of the 50's. Despite some occasional film noir tone, this is a fairly traditional detective story set in the present, but with an Edwardian feel. Someone is kidnapping and apparently killing young women in London, women he's met through the personals ads, then sending poems (which quote from Baudelaire) to Scotland Yard. The latest woman to vanish is a friend of dance hall girl Lucille Ball, an American stranded in England when her show flops, and she volunteers to help the police catch the killer by answering suspicious ads. There are any number of suspects: Boris Karloff as a nutty dress designer; George Sanders as a playboy nightclub owner who romances Ball; Cedric Hardwicke as Sanders' staid business partner; and Joseph Calleia as the head of a white slavery ring. A strong supporting cast includes Charles Coburn, Alan Napier, and Alan Mowbray. Most notable is George Zucco as a Scotland Yard man who acts as bodyguard to Ball. Uusally Zucco plays a creep or a villian, but here he is downright heroic and quite charming. Ball is serviceable throughout, but her supporting cast outshines her. There is nice work with shadows and, though it displays little of the visual flair of Sirk's later films (like ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS), the sets are impressive. Quite a good thriller, highly recommended.

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