Not Rated Dir: Joseph H. Lewis | Arrow Video | 1h 5min
Plot: What’s it about?
Joseph H. Lewis has been dead since 2000 and directed his last film in 1958, this last twelve months would need to be counted as a landmark year for the director. He has had a solid stream of releases brought to the Blu-Ray format in the last twelve months. WB Archive released his classic Gun Crazy, and Arrow Films has released Terror in a Texas Town, My Name is Julia Ross, and So Dark the Night. I have been working my way through those films after being charmed by the fantastic Gun Crazy. I watched My Name is Julia Ross with plans to follow it up with So Dark the Night.
In London, Julia Ross (Nina Foch) is having trouble finding work and is behind on her payments to her boarding house. Bertha who works as a housekeeper there resents Julia for being too intelligent and pretty to stoop down to more menial work. Julia finds an ad from an agency for secretarial work and darts off to the agency. She meets Mrs. Hughes (May Whitty) and Ms. Sparkes (Anita Bolster.) They ask Julia if she has any romantic entanglements or close relatives. Julia’s parents are dead and she has no romantic ties. Seemingly impressed by Julia, they offer her the job to begin immediately. One catch is that she must move into their house that evening. Julia agrees and sets off to the boarding house to pack her belongings. She doesn’t realize that they are plotting against Julia. At the boarding house, Julia runs into Dennis who has just returned from the collapse of his wedding. Dennis explains that he failed to get married when he could not explain why he kept calling his potential bride Julia on accident. Julia sets a date for that Friday in the Square where her new job site is located. Julia sets off for her new job and meets Ralph Hughes (George MacReady) along with Mrs Hughes and Ms. Sparkes. After drinking some tea, Julia awakens two days later in a bed inside a seaside mansion in Cornwall. She is wearing the clothes of Marion Hughes, Ralph’s wife, and everyone is telling her that she has forgotten her identity and is married to Ralph. Julia wants to escape but it will be very difficult considering that the Hughes family has convinced everyone that “Marion” has had a mental collapse. Meanwhile, Dennis perplexed by being stood up for his date begins to search for her.
My Name is Julia Ross is not as great as Gun Crazy, but it is still an enjoyable film. Fans of dramas like Rebecca will find themselves right at home here. The film was written by a female screenwriter Muriel Roy Bolton based on a novel by a woman named Anne Meredith using the pseudonym Anthony Gilbert. The movie therefore has a decidedly feminine voice which was not particularly common of films in that era. The fears of the film’s female protagonist of being trapped, being considered crazy, and of violence are still very relevant when watching the film today.
The acting in the film is nicely done. Nina Foch is enjoyable in the lead role and I also enjoyed the conspiratorial Dame May Whitty. The best performance in the film is George MacReady as the sinister and psychopathic Ralph Hughes. This actor was perfectly cast to play this role and he nails it.
Joseph H. Lewis does a reliably good job of directing the film with decidedly noir touches that enter the film periodically. The cinematography by Burnett Guffey is very nice to look at. I also like that the film only runs five minutes longer than most television shows, never wearing out its welcome with the viewer.
Video: How’s it look?
The transfer provided to Arrow Video by Sony looks great. Here is what the booklet details:
“My Name is Julia Ross is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1 [sic] with mono audio. The film was transferred in High Definition and supplied to Arrow Films by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.“
With the transfer appearing in 1.34.1, there will be some bars on both sides of the screen on most televisions. The video transfer comes from a 2K scan done by Sony and it looks great. Sony is amazing at film restoration and is notorious for their diligence in quality control. Fine detail is solid. Gray and black levels are pleasing. Fans will be pleased to know that this is undoubtedly the best the film has ever looked.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The LPCM 2.0 mono track that Sony provided to Arrow sounds pretty good. Dialogue is clear and though there is some hiss it was not distracting or pervasive. This track will not blow anybody away, but I think that fans will be pleased with the results overall.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – A really entertaining commentary that sheds light on the various personalities involved in the creation of the film. His characterization of Joseph H. Lewis struck me as truthful and definitely is not aggrandizing. Rode is a well respected authority on older films and he speaks with confidence about the film. A good commentary track.
- Identity Crisis: Joseph H. Lewis at Columbia – Nora Fiore a.k.a. The Nitrate Diva discusses the film, its feminine origins, and symbolic imagery. This is a really insightful piece that anybody who enjoys the film will find entertaining. Is the ending intentionally glib? This piece makes a compelling case.
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
My Name is Julia Ross is a fun thriller for fans of films like Rebecca and Notorious. Joseph H. Lewis fans will be pleased to see more of his work get the full high definition treatment. Thanks to Sony’s known quality control on their restorations, the film looks the best it has ever looked.The supplements supplied by Arrow are well-researched and enjoyable. Overall, this is an enjoyable release.