Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1947. Hunt Stromberg Productions. Screenplay by Leo Rosten, based on a story by Jacques Companeez, Ernst Neubach, Simon Gantillon. Cinematography by William H. Daniels. Produced by James Nasser. Music by Michel Michelet. Production Design by Nicolai Remisoff. Costume Design by Elois Jenssen. Film Editing by John M. Foley.
Lucille Ball is fabulous as an American showgirl stuck in London and working as a taxi dancer after the show she was in closed. The foggy city is being terrorized by a killer who is meeting women through the personal ads and murdering them, and when the latest victim is Ball’s co-worker and friend, she goes to the police to find out what is being done about catching the culprit. The police chief (Charles Coburn) asks her play detective and help the cops by putting out ads and answering them in order to try and catch the madman out, which she does and it places her in a lot of humorous false start situations (the best of them a fourth-billed Boris Karloff in a cameo as a loopy dress designer). Her efforts also put her in the way of a stylish gentleman (George Sanders) who owns the nightclub that she was about to get a job in before her career was interrupted by police work, and with whom she falls madly in love before realizing he could be the prime suspect. Stylish, funny and beautifully cast, this film’s only mistake is in letting go of its attention on its terrific female star in the last third, Ball is fantastic at handling all the scenarios that she has to play out and it could have been a terrific character piece in the right hands. As is often the case in movies, a bright and useful woman is turned into an illogical sap when love comes into the picture, but at least the film manages to include comedy without upsetting the drama, and has a terrific ending that lives up to the promise of its nerve-wracking plot.