My Name is Julia Ross (1945) ****

February 10th, 2019
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Joseph H. Lewis; Wri: Muriel Roy Bolton, Music Mischa Bakaleinikoff, Art Director Jerome Pycha Jr | Cast: Nina Foch May Whitty George Macready Roland Varno Anita Bolster Doris Lloyd | Noir thriller US, 64’

Joseph H Lewis’ tautly tense psychological melodrama runs for just over an hour, yet every minute is packed with seconds with Muriel Roy Bolton’s clever script adapted from Anthony Gilbert’s novel The Woman in Red about a decent girl down on her luck who falls into the clutches of a Machiavellian mother and her disturbed son. 

My Name Is Julia Ross immediately secured Joseph Lewis a place in the noir firmament, and was soon to be followed by A Lady Without Passport and Gun Crazy in 1950; Cry of the Hunted (1953); and The Big Combo in 1955.

The premise is slightly outlandish, but suspend your disbelief and you’ll enjoy this Noirish thriller with its eclectic international cast. Dutch actor Nina Foch plays a secretary who secures a live-in position working for a wealthy English dowager (Dame May Whitty) with a dark secret. It soon transpires that Julia (Foch) has been employed under false pretences, as a shoe-in for the dowager’s dead daughter-in-law. She then wakes the following morning to discover she has been heavily drugged and transported to a Cornish seaside mansion where she is now Mrs Marion Hughes, and married to the dowager’s son Ralph. But that’s not the end of a waking nightmare that sees her trapped by circumstances beyond her control. 

Foch makes for a vulnerable yet stylishly foxy heroine decked out in Jean Louis’s elegant designs. Meanwhile, Burnett Guffey’s subtle lighting and chiaroscuro shadow-play spices up the sinister nature of this sinuous English-set psychodrama. Whitty gives a chillingly commanding turn as the mother, and Macready is suitably convincing as her abusive son. In this first class B movie, Joseph H. Lewis shows that great results can be achieved with a modest budget. MT 


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