“MY NAME IS JULIE ROSS”— The Morning After

“My Name Is Julia Ross” The Morning After Amos Lassen Joseph H. Lewis (“The Big Combo”) made his first film at Columbia and established himself as a director in this Gothic-tinged Hitchcockian breakout hit.  The morning after Julia Ross (Nina Foch) takes a job in London as secretary to wealthy widow Mrs. Williamson Hughes (Dame May Whitty), she wakes up in a Cornish mansion, having been drugged. Mrs. Hughes and her son, Ralph (George Macready), attempt to get Julia to believe she is Ralph’s wife, Marion. Her belongings have been destroyed, the windows are barred and the locals believe that she is mad. This is a quick paced and brilliantly stylized mystery that grabs its audience from the start and immediately cemented Lewis’s place as a director to watch.
We don’t necessarily have to believe in this devilishly clever if rather contrived and cheaply made ($175,000) exercise in style and suspense to find it extremely tense, chilling and satisfying.
The premise is quite simple but the way that it is carried out is glorious.  Nina Foch is totally convincing as the sometimes frightened, sometimes distraught Julia. She shows the requisite fear and, underneath, the tenacity to survive with no hysterics but with a contained inner terror that is totally palatable.  She is admirably supported by two normally contrasting personas of evil.  George Macready is the resident scar-faced villain that he plays with a glazed stare of insanity.
Julia makes several attempts to escape, but is always thwarted.  When three people arrive, including a Reverend Lewis, Julia mistakenly assumes they have found her note, and when she tells them she’s being held prisoner, Mrs. Hughes deftly convinces the visitors of her daughter-in-law’s mental instability.
Later, Julia writes a letter to Dennis and leaves it where it will be found.  Sure enough, after the mother has substituted a blank sheet of paper, Julia writers another letter that she is allowed to mail on a visit to the local village, accompanied by the watchful Ralph. When she inexplicably finds a black cat in her room, she figures there must be a secret passage—and finds one.  While hiding inside the wall space, she witnesses a scene between Ralph and his mother.  The son has killed his wife, the body presumably disposed of.  Julia, now established as his wife, is to take her place and die of nature causes.  Next, Julia fakes a suicide attempt and when a doctor arrives, she tells him her plight, including about the letter, only to discover that he isn’t a doctor but in on the plot. To say any more about the plot will ruin the viewing experience and there are more surprises to come.
The viewer might feel that “My Name Is Julia Ross” fails in at least one respect, that never for a moment does Julia doubt her identity—or maybe that’s a strength, since the villains must work all the harder to deceive her.  And from the opposite perspective, those same viewers never, in any of their own private moments, doubt that this woman is Julia Ross. SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:   High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation   Original uncompressed mono PCM audio   Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing   Commentary by noir expert Alan K. Rode   Identity Crisis: Joseph H. Lewis at Columbia – The Nitrate Diva (Nora Fiore) provides the background and an analysis of the film   Theatrical trailer   Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow   FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by author and critic Adrian Martin

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