A young woman agrees to meet a stranger on a dark street in Soho, recognizing him by carnation, introducing herself, "I'm blue-eyes."
She'll never again be seen alive, victim of "The Poet" a slayer of pretty girls. So begins the film noir Lured (1947), a Scotland Yard mystery.
Lucille Ball plays Sandra Carpenter, an American showgirl stranded in London after a show is prematurely cancelled.
She has become a "taxi dancer" in days when dancing with strangers was wildly inappropirate for ladies, suitable only at the low end of sex trade. Men pay taxi dancers by the dance in order to fondle women on the dance floor.
While she dances with a little guy, Sandra puts her elbow on his shoulder & looks bored, showing elements of the comic persona that will one day make Lucy famous, though in the main this is a dead serious noir role.
When Sandra learns her friend has become the eighth victim of the "Baudelaire" Poet Killer, she is willing to be recruited by Inspector Temple (Charles Coburn) to assist Scotland Yard as an undercover agent.
It becomes her dangerous task to lure out the serial killer. Inspector Barrett (George Zucco) is assigned as her bodyguard-in-the-shadows in case she gets in trouble, which of course she does.
The Poet Killer meets girls through the newspaper personals, & announces to the police each intended victim by sending them a poem. And the poems ain't bad.
A major suspect is Charles Van Rutten (Boris Karloff), a retired dress designer who went mad & now advertises for young ladies to dress up for him.
The scenes with Boris are great but as far as the serial killer is concerned, his subplot is a red herring.
Julian Wilde (Sir Cedrick Harwicke), friend of man-about-town Robert Fleming (George Saunders), has apparently framed Fleming with planted evidence.
A true Bohemian unwilling to take life (or death) seriously, Fleming finds the prospects of a legal battle for his life or freedom just too boring to ponder.
Saunders plays this witty character with greaer subtlty than may at first seem evident, for it's a very true portrait of a type frequently associated with poets & poetry & small arty publishers, & it made ever so much sense that he'd have a chap named "Wiilde" in his circle.
He prefers to hanging to life imprisonment. He's willing to confess if they promise to hang him, despite his innocence.
Although the resolution of the mystery is no great suprise, the quality of these performances makes the film a minor treasure, with a sterling cast. There's a remake also with a fine cast, Sea of Love (1989).
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl