LURED. United Artists, 1947. George Sanders, Lucille Ball, Charles Coburn, Boris Karloff, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Joseph Calleia, Alan Mowbray, George Zucco, Robert Coote, Alan Napier, Tanis Chandler.
   Screenplay by Leo Rosten, based on Robert Siodmak’s 1939 French film Pieges (titled Personal Column in the United States). Screenplay of the earlier film by Jacques Companéez and Ernst Neubach. Director: Douglas Sirk.

   The title is appropriate. I was lured into watching this film under false pretenses. From the title and what I knew about the story line it was my general impression that this was a film noir movie. Ah, very much not so. I began to suspect something was wrong when I saw the director’s credit. I tried to reassure myself by saying that while I don’t know much about his career, the extravigant Hollywood melodramas Douglas Sirk is best known for didn’t come along until the 1950s.

   True enough that Lured is a black-and-white crime film centered on a serial killer responsible for the disappearances and deaths of a number of young women in London, each preceded by a poem sent to Scotland Yard based on the work of Charles Baudelaire. Lucille Ball is an American chorus girl stranded in England. Working at would be called a “dime a dance” hall in the US, one of her co-workers and a close friend goes missing.

   So far, so good. This is the part of the movie in which the noirish aspects are the greatest, and in 1947 Lucille Ball had the perfect face for films noir. (To my mind, however, she didn’t have the earthiness of an Audrey Totter, Marie Windsor or Gloria Grahame, but she was quite a beauty, no doubt about it.)

   But in any case, off she goes to Scotland Yard, where a totally miscast Charles Coburn as a very non-British inspector persuades her to work for him and act as bait to catch the killer. Besides being a very questionable proposition on the face of it, he hands her a gun for her to protect herself if need be.

   It didn’t make any sense to me, then or now as I’m typing this. Worse though, is the change of direction the story takes soon after, as Ball’s character meets and definitely attracts the attention of a nightclub owner played by George Sanders.

   And all of a suden the story turns into a sappy romance between two would-be lovers who have no chemistry together. Opinions may vary on this, but I can only report on what I saw.

   Which in the end, was neither solid enough to recommend as a mystery (the villain is obvious way too soon) or as a romance, the latter jerry-rigged out of nothing at all.