My Name Is Julia Ross
My Name Is Julia Ross is a 1945 film noir, having also some elements of Gothic fiction, directed by Joseph H. Lewis and based on the novel The Woman in Red by Anthony Gilbert. This drama is the first in a series of films noir directed by Lewis and features Nina Foch, Dame May Whitty and George Macready.
|My Name Is Julia Ross|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joseph H. Lewis|
|Produced by||Wallace MacDonald|
|Screenplay by||Muriel Roy Bolton|
|Based on||The Woman in Red|
by Anthony Gilbert
Dame May Whitty
|Music by||Mischa Bakaleinikoff|
|Edited by||Henry Batista|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
In London, Julia Ross (Nina Foch) goes to a new employment agency, desperate for work. When Mrs. Sparkes (Anita Sharp-Bolster) learns that she has no near relations, she recommends Julia for a job as a live-in personal secretary to a wealthy widow, Mrs. Hughes (May Whitty). Mrs. Hughes approves and insists that she move that very night into her house. Two days later, Julia awakes as a prisoner at an isolated seaside estate in Cornwall.
All her possessions have disappeared and the young woman is told she is really Marion, the wife of Ralph Hughes (George Macready), Mrs. Hughes's son. The staff have been told that she has suffered a nervous breakdown; as a result, they ignore her seemingly wild claims and her attempts to escape are all foiled.
Julia writes a letter to her only close friend and admirer, Dennis Bruce (Roland Varno), and cleverly leaves it where it can be found. The Hugheses substitute a blank sheet of paper and allow her to post it, unaware that Julia has anticipated them and written a second letter. Even so, when a "doctor" comes in response to a fake poisoning attempt, she blurts out her plan to him, only to discover that he (along with Mrs. Sparkes) is in on the scheme. He is dispatched to London to intercept the letter. When the real doctor shows up, Julia thinks he's also a fake and refuses to see him. The doctor recommends she be taken to a hospital immediately, but Mrs. Hughes persuades him to come back in the morning.
That night, Julia discovers a secret passage to her room and overhears Ralph admit to his mother that he murdered his real wife in a fit of rage and disposed of her body in the sea. Julia's captors have to make it appear that she has committed suicide before the doctor can take her away.
Julia throws her gown out the window, making it look like she threw herself to her death, then hides in the secret passage. When the doctor drives up, Mrs. Hughes delays him so that her son can get to the body first. Ralph picks up a rock to ensure that Julia is really dead, but is stopped by Dennis and a policeman, who had been alerted by the letter. (The fake doctor had been apprehended in London when he tried to intercept the letter.) When Ralph tries to flee, he is shot down.
Film critic Bosley Crowther wrote a mixed review, "The director and scenarist of the Ambassador's new mystery, My Name Is Julia Ross, deserve a B-plus for effort at least. It is quite evident that they strived earnestly to whip up excitement and suspense, but somehow that electrifying quality which distinguishes good melodrama is lacking in this transcription of the Anthony Gilbert novel, The Woman in Red ... While Joseph Lewis, the director, succeeds in creating an effectively ominous atmosphere, he has not been as adept in handling the players, and that, we suspect, is why My Name Is Julia Ross misses the mark.
The staff at Variety magazine praised the production, writing, "Mystery melodrama with a psychological twist runs only 64 minutes but it's fast and packed with tense action throughout. Acting and production (though apparently modestly budgeted) are excellent."