Tuesday, May 14, 2024

George Sanders and Lucille Ball are “Lured” into danger and intrigue

Lured (1947) is an American film noir directed by Douglas Sirk and starring George Sanders, Lucille Ball, Charles Coburn, and Boris Karloff. Lured is a remake of a French film directed by Robert Siodmak (The Killers, The Spiral Staircase). It was titled Personal Column in the United States.

Sandra Carpenter (Ball) is an American in London. She came to the U.K. with a show that closed. To make ends meet in the meantime, she works as a taxi dancer. One of her colleagues was a victim of the “Poet Killer” who lures women through newspaper ads in the personal columns. Sandra meets with the Scotland Yard Inspector Harley Temple (Coburn) about her fellow dancer’s disappearance. Temple, appealing to Sandra’s concern for her friend, convinces her to work with the Yard as an undercover agent. She will be used to lure the killer out in the open.

During her undercover work, Sandra comes in contact with Robert Fleming (Sanders), a stage producer who is attracted to her. Fleming shares his home with his business partner and friend Julian Wilde (Sir Cedric Hardwicke).

Sandra responds to several personal ads but none seem to be the “Poet Killer.” Will Sandra find the killer or will she become his latest victim?

Lucille Ball, Charles Coburn, and George Sanders


Douglas Sirk (1897 – 1987) was a German film director best known for his Hollywood melodramas of the 1950s. Sirk is identified with melodramas but he worked in many genres including comedies, westerns, film noir, and war films. Sirk came to Hollywood in 1937 because of his Jewish wife who was being persecuted by the Nazis. Sirk’s first American film was Hitler’s Madman (1943). Sirk hit his stride with a series of popular Technicolor melodramas’ including Magnificent Obession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955), Written on the Wind (1956), and Imitation of Life (1959).

George Sanders (1906 – 1972) was a British film and stage actor who also had a fine singing voice. Hollywood was looking for a villain to star opposite a young Tyrone Power in Lloyd’s of London (1936) and Sanders more than fit the bill. His performance in that film would forever stamp him as a sophisticated bad guy. Before his acting career, he worked in the textile industry, which must have helped him with his role in The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry. In the 1960s, Sanders played Mr. Freeze in the Batman (1966) television series.

Lucille Ball (1911 – 1989) was an American actress. Ball started her career as a model and later appeared in films while under contract to RKO Radio Pictures during the 1930s and 1940s. At RKO, she starred in B-pictures and had supporting roles in A-pictures like Stage Door (1937) co-starring Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers. Ball left RKO for M-G-M in the mid-40s but major stardom eluded her. Ball had a hit radio show, My Favorite Husband. CBS wanted her to develop the show for television but Ball insisted on having her real-life husband Desi Arnaz co-star with her. The studio wanted her to star with her radio husband, Richard Denning, but Ball held out for Arnaz and I Love Lucy was born. During her television career, Ball was nominated for 13 Primetime Emmy Awards, winning five times. Ball’s reputation as one of the world’s great comedians has never been disputed.

Charles Coburn (1877 – 1961) was an Academy-Award-winning character actor. Coburn was one of the most popular character actors in film during the 1940s. He was nominated for three Best Support Actor Academy Awards for The Devil and Miss Jones (1941), for The More the Merrier (1943)—won, and The Green Years (1946). Other classic films featuring Coburn include The Lady Eve (1941), Kings Row (1942), The Constant Nymph (1943), Monkey Business (1952), and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953).

Boris Karloff (1887 – 1969) was an English actor famous for playing Frankenstein’s monster in Frankenstein (1931). The film and its sequels Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Son of Frankenstein (1939) established him as a horror movie icon. Karloff starred in many silent films before successfully transitioning to talkies. He also had success on Broadway, most notably with the original production of Arsenic and Old Lace (1941). Karloff also won a Grammy Award for his narration of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966).


Lured trivia

  • The title was changed to Personal Column during its initial release because the Production Code Administration thought the word lured sounded like lurid. Douglas Sirk thought the name change was confusing the theater goers and contributed to its failure at the box office.
  • Boris Karloff, George Zucco, and Sir Cedric Hardwicke all starred in classic Universal horror movies.
  • Alan Napier who played Alfred the Butler on the TV show Batman, which also had Neil Hamilton playing Neil Hamilton Commissioner Gordon, plays a police inspector named Gordon in Lured.
  • The voice of the blonde nightclub singer is that of Annette Warren. Warren dubbed the singing for Lucille Ball in Sorrowful Jones (1949) and Fancy Pants (1950). She was also the singing voice of Ava Gardner in Show Boat (1951). Warren is still with us as of this writing. She’s 101.
  • Charles Coburn and George Sanders were both Best Supporting Actor Academy Award winners.


Click HERE to watch the movie on YouTube.


Click HERE to join the discussion online on May 20, 2024 at 6:30 p.m. Central Time. Once you RSVP, you will receive an invitation and a link to join the discussion on Zoom.


Discussion questions

  1. Did Lured fell like a film noir to you? If yes, what characteristics did you find fit the genre?
  2. This was a serious role for Lucille Ball; what did you think of her performance?
  3. Was the plot of the film believable to you?
  4. This was an early film by director Douglas Sirk. Do you see any touches in this film that showed up later in his more popular movies?
  5. Did anything about this film surprise you?
  6. Was the ending satisfying and believable?

Lobby card with the “new” title


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