Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

LURED


LURED (1947). Director: Douglas Sirk.

"I am an unmitigated cad."

George Sanders, Boris Karloff, Charles Coburn -- and Lucille Ball -- all in the same movie? Not only that but George Zucco and Sir Cedric Hardwicke, too? Too bad it's such a lousy movie.

Lucy is a show girl of sorts whose friend disappears after answering a romantic personal ad. The police employ her as a decoy who will answer different ads and hopefully bring the murderer of several young women, the friend included, to light. George Sanders is a theatrical agent who takes a shine to Lucy. Boris Karloff is a weird, mentally ill clothing designer, Zucco is a police officer (as is Alan Napier of Batman TV fame), and Joseph Calleia is an even weirder friend of Karloff's. Charles Coburn is miscast as a Scotland Yard inspector -- it's one of the few times this wonderful character actor fails to make much of an impression, although he does have his moments (such as a scene with Hardwicke).

Lucille Ball does make an impression -- but in the wrong way. Although her Lucy characterization was four years in the future, at times the movie resembles "Lucy Meets Jack the Ripper." Her comic gifts and timing are much in evidence, but in the wrong movie. And her whole persona is much too contemporary to be convincing in a period piece. On the other hand, she's the only bright note in the movie, despite solid performances from Sanders and some of the others. However, in no way can it be considered a memorable dramatic performance.

There are some atmospheric shots, but Douglas Sirk is no Hitchcock and the music is all wrong. A hilarious aspect is that early in the film one of the victims describes the [fairly obvious] killer as being "handsome." Well ... wait and see, if you care to.

Verdict: Seems like five hours. *1/2.

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