Film Review: Lured (1947)

Also known as: Personal Column (UK)
Release Date: September 5th, 1947
Directed by: Douglas Sirk
Written by: Leo Rosten, Jacques Companéez, Simon Gantillon, Ernest Neuville
Music by: Michel Michelet
Cast: George Sanders, Lucille Ball, Charles Coburn, Boris Karloff, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Alan Napier

Hunt Stromberg Productions, United Artists, 102 Minutes

Review:

“There’s a homicidal maniac loose somewhere in the vast honeycomb of London. A maniac with a weakness for young, pretty girls and not a thing we’ve done has brought us one inch nearer his apprehension.” – Inspector Harley Temple

To be honest, I have never really seen Lucille Ball outside of “I Love Lucy” and her other comedy shows. It was pretty eye-opening and refreshing to see her in this, something much more dramatic and serious. And even though she isn’t the top billed star, she is the central focus of this film.

The film also stars George Sanders, Charles Coburn, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Alan Napier and a fantastic and wacky performance by horror legend Boris Karloff. There’s a whole lot of male energy present in this movie but Ball outshines them all. Well, except for maybe Karloff, simply because this was a unique character for him and he nailed it.

In this picture, we meet Lucille Ball’s Sandra Carpenter, an American girl in London. Her best friend is murdered and the police convince Sandra to go undercover and be the bait needed to lure out the killer. She agrees, as she wants justice for her friend. However, even though this isn’t a comedy film, we see Ball have to play off of several strange characters. She does amuse the audience in this film but not in the same way that one is used to seeing. She never sabotages the tone of the plot by being in this. She shows her wit and charisma but does the material justice and never crosses the line in a comedic sense.

Lured was also an early film of Douglas Sirk’s but here, he already shows how skilled a craftsman he is. It has a clean, big budget, pristine look. This wasn’t a low budget film per se but it just looks wonderful. The cinematography was handled by William H. Daniels, a veteran when he did this. Daniels would follow this up with the absolutely stunning looking noir films Brute Force and The Naked City.

It is also worth mentioning that this was a remake of a French film Pièges. That was a Robert Siodmak picture. What’s interesting about that, is that he would also become a well accomplished noir director with classic like The KillersPhantom LadyThe Spiral StaircaseThe Dark Mirror and Criss Cross.

Lured is highly entertaining, highly energetic, witty and a testament to the many layers of Lucille Ball’s talent. Plus, if you are a Boris Karloff fan, you really need to see him in this.

Rating: 8/10

Film Review: Shockproof (1949)

Also known as: The Lovers (working title)
Release Date: January 19th, 1949
Directed by: Douglas Sirk
Written by: Samuel Fuller, Helen Deutsch
Music by: George Duning
Cast: Cornel Wilde, Patricia Knight

Columbia Pictures, 79 Minutes

Review:

Shockproof is a bit of a mixed and strange bag, as far as film noirs go. The first 90 percent of the picture is really damn good. However, the ending sort of pulls everything apart.

Douglas Sirk became quite the accomplished director over the course of his career. His greatness is also very apparent in this film and for the most part, Shockproof is a fine picture. Its negative aspects really had nothing to do with Sirk’s direction, style or the narrative he intended to put to celluloid.

The problem with the film is its ending.

The script was originally written with the male lead, a parole officer, getting gunned down in a shootout with police. An act of defiance against everything he once stood for because he felt forced to fight back against a system that was driving a wedge between himself and the woman he loved, his parolee.

The studio forced a rewrite of the last few scenes and this film gets a happy ending, where there are no consequences to the actions of the main characters. What this did was discount the entire point of the story, which saw a “by the book” officer of the law fall for an ex-con that wanted to better her life. Her ex-boyfriend, a gambler with mob ties, tries to keep her on the crooked path and eventually she shoots him to protect herself and her new love. This causes the parole officer to swerve off of the straight and narrow path and to become a criminal himself.

There should have been grave and serious consequences but what we get is some bullshit happy ending where everyone gets to live out there lives like nothing bad happened. Douglas Sirk was outraged by the changes and went on to disown the film and justifiably so.

Still, this picture is solid and Sirk should have been proud of the work he did up until the studio tied his hands and imposed their power over his art.

The film is well acted by both Cornel Wilde and Patricia Knight, who were actually married when this was made. I was especially impressed with Knight and am somewhat surprised that she didn’t have a big career after this. Then again, Hollywood politics were wonky back then and maybe her divorce from Wilde two years later had something to do with that.

Shockproof is certainly worth a view. It is really short too. But the positives far outweigh the negatives. Just keep in mind the ending that was originally intended, which would have possibly made this a noir classic.

Rating: 7/10