Reel to Real Classics presents a screening and brief discussion of:
Lured (1947) Starring Lucille Ball | Directed by Douglas Sirk
November 30 (Thurs) 6:00 pm |Willis Library Forum/140
We’ll have popcorn and refreshments. RSVP or prior film knowledge not required.
Themes: Lucille Ball/women in film noir, bravery, & gender roles| #Noirvember
About the film: “In this sumptuous thriller by legendary filmmaker Douglas Sirk and featuring a bevy of classic stars of the silver screen, a serial killer is on the loose in London, luring young women into his web through ads placed in the personal column.”
(Lured intro from Kanopy)
I’ll start with relevant quote from Lucille Ball herself:
” I’m not funny. What I am is brave”* (as quoted in Ball of Fire, pg 9)
Lucille Ball, who could play comedies, dramas, film noir and more, was being modest. There is a chance that even as a classic movie fan or I Love Lucy fan, it will surprise you to know that Lucille Ball has contributed, admirably I would say, to the world of suspense. Yes, I do mean Suspense the radio show, but not exclusively.
for an innocent man on the run such as in Dark Corner (see my Media Library blog guest post on Dark Corner, Laura and film noir if interested).
In Lured, she goes from taxi-dancer/dime-a-dance girl, to “female detective”/temporary uncover cop. WHAT?!! Could you imagine Lucy asking Ricky for permission for that gig in I Love Lucy? I don’t even think that would come up in the episode “Lucy Thinks Ricky is Trying to Murder Her”) The themes are dark, and Lucy has to contend with some real creeps in her pursuit to find her missing friend, but even without training, she holds her own. Lucy accepts this dangerous endeavor, even acknowledging beforehand that she is understands this “female detective role’ is her as”bait.” Again, there is a romantic lead for her, but she is not side-tracked by persistent playboy played by George Sanders, who is trying to do some luring of his own for personal reasons. Well, not when it interrupts mission anyways. There are role complications and twists to pay attention to as well.
Speaking of dark – Lured has a special treat for fans of horror, the film has some familiar faces by casting George Zucco and Boris Karloff. Karloff, well known for his Frankenstein’s monster role, is heavily featured in the marketing (see DVD cover above) despite his short screen time. Zucco’s role is far more significant to the overall plot.
Lucille Ball played, well, ball in the days of the studio system (Surely I’m not the first time someone made that pun, so don’t blame me). She wanted to work, and she did, but she wasn’t often the lead. There is a nice list of her over 80 movies with blurbs on the Luci Desi museum website spanning the period of 1933-1974.
Discussion examples for the film:
- Do you have thoughts about gender or stereotypes in film noir?
- How does Lucille’s characters compare to “femme fatales” or other women in film noir (past or present)?
- What do you think of Lucille’s role in Lured? Is she brave? Foolish? Both?
- What do you think about her collaboration with the police in Lured (and Dime a Dance if you’ve listened to that)?
- Any other thoughts about the film (director, themes, roles and time in American cinema? (i.e. 1947 versus 2017)
- Other thoughts or film suggestions from and for the group?
(Old Time) Radio work
There is less written about her radio work, but here are two I recommend from the show Suspense that relate to the darker themes in films like Lured and Dark Corner. You can find episodes online to stream or download though podcast providers or the Internet Archive Suspense pages (See links s1 and s2). It’s worth exploring the series if you haven’t, but you can; also go straight to Lucille’s Ball’s page, where the picture is from, here: https://archive.org/details/LucilleBall
- Dime a Dance(1944) – Internet Archive s1 mp3
Definite similarities to Lured. She’s brave, she’s she’s got street-smarts, and again she is sort of bait for the police, but the story-line has significant differences.
- A Little Piece of Rope (1948) (Internet Archive S2 mp3)
Her “baby face” prevents her from getting work in Hollywood, so she uses this trait for a disturbing and dangerous con. Remembering a police gazette noting women dressed as an innocent school girls “entice and trap unwary gentleman”she plans to rob and potentially blackmail men she meets. Her plan is to play offense not defense. This is a very dark tale and a suspense for sure.
–(Personal note: As librarian I have to admit I found it humorous that she pretends to be a good candidate for an apartment by dressing dowdy, and telling the landlord she is a librarian. Haha…Arg)
It’s worth exploring the series if you haven’t, but you can; also go straight to Lucille’s Ball’s page, where the picture is from, here: https://archive.org/details/LucilleBall
There is so much to love about Lucy. In addition to being a television pioneer; her performances in film and radio often have unique and surprising elements for their time and genre. Life and work wasn’t always easy for Lucille Ball, and her talent and contributions to in various entertainment mediums have seem to have gone relatively unrecognized. I think her accomplishments, despite her self deprecating quote, reveal that in addition to being talented, she was funny and brave.
Resources – UNT Libraries:
UNT Library Catalog has more resources for you to explore.
Advanced Search Tip:
Do an AUTHOR search for Ball, Lucille, 1911-1989 to find her work ( films &shows)
Do a SUBJECT search for Ball, Lucille, 1911-1989 to find items written about her
You can also explore the UNT Media Library collection for the genre Film noir
– Miss the screening? Check out Lured (DVD 9551) or stream it via Kanopy
-If time permits, and there is interest, we will attempt another podcast up again!
Lucille Ball’s quote about being brave was found in:
Kanfer, Stephan (2003) Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball, New York: Knoft, page 9.*original citation not provided
I hope you enjoy the post, and we hope to see you on November 30th!