A serial killer in London is murdering young women he meets through the personal columns of newspapers. He announces each of his murders to the police by sending them a cryptic poem. After a dancer disappears, the police enlist an American friend of hers, Sandra Carpenter, to answer advertisements in the personal columns, and lure the killer.Written by
David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>
A killer lures lonely young women via the "personals" column in a London newspaper. A friend of one of the victims, an attractive dancer named Sandra Carpenter (Lucille Ball), acts as bait to catch the killer, under direction of Police Inspector Temple (Charles Coburn). One of the suspects is Robert Fleming (George Sanders) who may, or may not, be the killer. Fleming, suave and sophisticated, charms Carpenter into romantic complications.
The whodunit element of "Lured" gets off to a strong start, with good direction, some spooky lighting at the beginning, and an assortment of interesting suspects. But, as the film progresses, the whodunit element gets undercut by the developing romance between Carpenter and Fleming. The upbeat "All For Love" musical score, combined with elegant costumes, reinforce the romantic theme. The whodunit element sputters out about two-thirds through the film.
My impression is that the screenplay for this film was adapted from "Pieges", a 1939 French film (which I have not seen), billed as a romantic thriller. In "Lured", we certainly have a romantic theme; thrills maybe, depending on how you define "thrills". You get the feeling that the film's director (Douglas Sirk) started with the intention of making a whodunit, but later changed his mind and decided to make a romantic melodrama. The film's split personality may also be the result of the casting of two strong lead actors (Ball and Sanders), whom we do not usually associate with murder mysteries.
"Lured" certainly has entertainment value. I love Lucy no matter what role she plays. Coburn and Sanders are nearly always engaging. The film has good B&W cinematography. The dialogue is crisp. And the film provides some great nostalgia, via 1940's clothes, hairstyles, and music. Overall, "Lured" has a great cast and some wonderful atmosphere. But, when I want to watch a murder mystery from the 30's or 40's, I will be more inclined to watch a film whose sole aim is to present a whodunit puzzle, such as, for example, a good old fashion Charlie Chan film with Sidney Toler ... romance be damned.
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