Richard Daybell – Novels, stories and short humor
Lucille Ball has been so synonymous with comedy that it’s strange indeed to run across her in a dramatic role. We did just that with last night’s movie Lured, one of her few such roles, a 1947 noir nugget featuring, along with Lucy, George Sanders, Charles Coburn, Boris Karloff, Cedric Hardwicke and Alan Mowbray. Set in London, the movie is about a sixpence-a-dance girl who agrees to help Scotland Yard catch a serial sixpence-a-dance girl killer. The killer meets his victims through the personals section of the newspaper, so Lucy answers ads to lure him into the open. Every male in the cast in turn falls under suspicion (except Coburn who is a Yard inspector), and Lucy is, of course, in constant danger. It was originally released under an alternate title because studio folks thought it sounded like lurid. Lurid it’s not. And it’s not Hitchcock, but it’s fun.
As I said, it was strange to see Lucille Ball in such a role. Although she had appeared in a few dramatic films during the 40s I had never seen one. The first time I recall seeing her was in the 1950 movie The Fuller Brush Girl in which she goes quickly from selling brushes to courting danger with a lot of slapstick along the way. Lured with laughs.
A year later I Love Lucy began its six-year television run. I’m afraid I was a major Lucy and Ricky fan, so much so that I descended into a ten-year-old funk when it went away for the summer. Back then a television season lasted a full nine months – 39 episodes. Summer gave way not to reruns but to summer replacements. The summer replacement for Lucy was Racket Squad, an odd choice. Enjoyable, but it didn’t appease me.
As the summer wore on, I would talk rather frequently about how many weeks, how many days, until the show returned. Finally, my parents, in exasperation, outlawed my uttering of the word Lucy in their company. So I began posting notes on the refrigerator and elsewhere “29 days to I Love Lucy, 28 days . . .” I guess I was lucky to make eleven.
These days I Love Lucy is not among my favorites from the era. Of course I’m not a ten-year-old anymore. And it’s been some time since I’ve even seen an episode or even a clip. But returning to the present, it occurs to me that if Ricky Santorum keeps up his momentum in Tuesday’s primaries, we will all find ourselves living back in an I Love Lucy rerun.