Review of Lured

Lured (1947)
Baudelaire, Beauty & Death
30 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This remake of Robert Siodmak's "Pieges" (1939) is an engaging thriller about Scotland Yard's pursuit of a London serial killer who attracts his victims by advertising in the newspapers' personal columns. The mysterious maniac, who's clever enough to have avoided being caught by the police, is also conceited as he regularly sends them notes that include poetry and clues to the identities of his forthcoming targets. Checks carried out by the police reveal that the killer's verses are strongly influenced by the works of Charles Baudelaire and betray a preoccupation with a perceived link between beauty and death. Furthermore, the typeface of these notes is so distinctive that they could only have been produced by one specific typewriter.

Sandra Carpenter (Lucille Ball) is a brash New York City dancer who'd travelled to London to work in a stage musical which had closed prematurely due to poor box office returns. After working for a while in her next job as a taxi-dancer in a popular dance hall, she becomes concerned when her fellow dancer and good friend Lucy Barnard (Tanis Chandler) goes missing. Police Inspector Harley Temple (Charles Coburn), is convinced that Lucy has become the killer's latest victim and so interviews Sandra. He quickly recognises her strong personal qualities and so invites her to assist in his hunt for the killer by acting as the bait to catch the culprit. Sandra readily agrees to work undercover as a temporary detective and then starts to systematically reply to each new personal ad that appears.

Through her work, Sandra meets a variety of contacts including a seriously deranged retired dress designer called Charles van Druten (Boris Karloff) and a strange character called Dr Nicholas Moryani (Joseph Calleia) who it later transpires is involved in transporting young women to work as slaves in South America. In another of her blind dates, her contact, who she was due to meet at a classical music concert, fails to turn up, but that evening at the concert she meets nightclub owner Robert Fleming (George Sanders) and very soon, they fall in love.

Robert is a sophisticated womaniser who lives in a large house with his business partner and close friend, Julian Wilde (Cedric Hardwicke). On the night of their engagement party, Sandra finds a number of suspicious items in Robert's desk (including Lucy's photograph) which lead to him being arrested and becoming the prime suspect in Inspector Temple's investigation but finding conclusive proof of his guilt proves to be extremely difficult.

"Lured" features a colourful collection of characters and the performances of its top quality cast are consistently good. Lucille Ball is irrepressible despite the number of times that her character has to be rescued from threatening situations and the unorthodox ways in which her bodyguard, Detective H.R. Barrett (George Zucco) finds the solutions to his crossword puzzles are also quite amusing. The emphasis in making this film was clearly on producing an upbeat thriller which has many of the characteristics of a routine whodunit (e.g. numerous red herrings) and judged purely on this basis, it is very successful and entertaining.
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