Douglas Sirk thriller starring Lucille Ball, George Sanders, and a deep supporting cast.
Sandra Carpenter (Ball) is an American dance hall hostess in London. Sandra aspires to a classier job, but her career is interrupted by Scotland Yard when a fellow dance hall hostess goes missing. The detectives at Scotland Yard (headed by Charles Coburn, Alan Napier, and Robert Coote) believe Sandra's coworker was the victim of a serial killer, and they recruit Sandra to help lure the murderer into the open. Sandra is shadowed by trusty Officer Barrett (George Zucco).
Meanwhile Sandra falls for nightclub owner Robert Fleming (Sanders) when they are repeatedly thrown together in various circumstances. Fleming is quite the ladies' man, but Sandra's initial refusal to fall prey to his charms leads to his falling head over heels for her and proposing marriage. There's just one little complication: a bunch of evidence in Fleming's desk tying him to the serial killings.
The cast also includes Boris Karloff, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Joseph Calleia, Alan Mowbray, and perennial butler Charles Coleman, who this time around gets to play Sir Charles, a member of the nobility. The nightclub singer performing "All for Love" is Ethelreda Leopold.
Besides a sterling cast, the film has amazing style, beginning with the opening credits sequence. Although it's a studio-bound production, the movie does a great job of putting over foggy London, whether it's a mysterious letter sliding into a Royal Mailbox or Ball standing under a lamp along the Thames, with Big Ben in the background. Ball has a marvelous wardrobe designed by Elois Jenssen.
Best of all, the movie is simply fun. It has its spooky moments, but given the subject matter it's not very scary; while the actors play the more serious and romantic scenes with genuine emotion, the film also has a droll sense of humor. One of my favorite scenes is a humorous exchange between Sandra and Officer Barrett involving guns. There were other scenes I loved, such as Fleming visiting a friend's house only to find the maid serving him is Sandra, working undercover. There are many such great little moments scattered throughout the film.
I'm not a particular fan of Ball's TV comedy style, but I've acquired quite an appreciation for her early film work, also including STAGE DOOR (1937), DANCE, GIRL, DANCE (1940), and THE DARK CORNER (1946). She's incredibly beautiful in this film.
Last year Moira wrote at Skeins of Thought that "any time you get a chance to see George Sanders be noble, stalwart and true (but never dull) is very refreshing." I agree completely! As I wrote here a few weeks ago, "I especially love Sanders when he plays one of the good guys." This is one of my favorite Sanders performances.
LURED runs 102 minutes. It was filmed with style by William Daniels.
LURED is available on DVD and VHS. It's also been shown on Turner Classic Movies.
There's more on the film by MorlockJeff at TCM's blog. As Jay Carter writes elsewhere at TCM, "LURED is a delicious plum pudding of a cult movie." Enjoy!