Movie Critique – Julie

Stars: 2 / 5

Recommendation: With a plot bouncing like a ping pong ball, it is amazing how the lead cast acted so well. It does provide realism, along with fiction and mystery. Sadly there were so many disconnects that the film throws the viewer off their seat many times.

Julie is a 1956 American film noir written and directed by Andrew L. Stone; a debut production by Martin Melcher. The film starred Doris Day, Louis Jourdan, Frank Lovejoy, Barry Sullivan, Jack Kelly, Ann Robinson and others. Film was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Julie Benton (portrayed by Doris Day) is terrified by the jealousy of her second husband Lyle (portrayed by Louis Jourdan); and confirmed further by suspicions on her first husband's death by her friend Cliff Henderson (portrayed by Barry Sullivan). The nightmare for Julie begins which turns into a life and death terror not only for her but for all the patrons on the airplane where she is working as a stewardess.

The title Julie reminded me of the 1975 Hindi Indian language romantic drama film Julie. And that's why I ended up watching. But both films are as far apart as the north and south pole, in the story line, genre and the plot in general. 

This is probably the first film that involved an airplane stewardess help land an aircraft to safety. The premise of that part of the plot has been subsequently used in several movies such as the 1974 American air disaster film Airport 1974; and 1996 American action thriller film Executive Decision. This film also becomes the first one to show accurate aviation technology.

The opening credits plays the song Julie sung by Doris Day composed by Leith Stevens and written by Tom Adair; with uncredited choral singing by Paul Salamunovich. The song is different and presented entirely different, yet it felt eerily familiar to the title song of the Hindi Indian language 1975 film Julie. While one fills you with terror the other leads you to romance and love. Again poles apart but eerily familiar. 

Here is the song from the 1956 American film Julie.

And here is the title song from the 1975 Hindi Indian language film Julie.

The opening credits are shown over the two primary characters - Day's Julie and Jourdan's Lyle - running away from somewhere and reaching their car. There is narration by Doris Day all through the film. 

Contrary to her typical romantic and musical films, this is one of the few she made in the early to mid-1950s that showcases her in a different genre. We saw her in one such thriller by Alfred Hitchcock in the 1956 American suspense thriller The Man Who Knew Too Much with James Stewart as her co-star. 

Interestingly enough in real-life, Doris Day's husband Melcher was jealous of Day's close friendship with her co-star Louis Jourdan. A real case of life mirroring art in case of Day, although it didn’t go to the extreme that it went in the film. Though her real-life first two husbands also had the similar characterization as Jourdan's Lyle in the film. 

As much as Day didn’t want to be part of this film, this was a welcome change for Louis Jourdan. He was tired of being typecast in romantic suave film roles. So he thoroughly enjoyed playing the bad guy for once, proving that he can also play varieties of roles just like Day. Jourdan certainly made an impression, with his jealous, cruel and sadistic portrayal. For me, I felt it through to my bones in the very first scene itself. 

I remember him for his portrayal of Paul Gerard, the conniving and scheming food critic in Season 7 Episode 2 of the TV show Columbo, titled Murder Under Glass released in January 1978, a good 22 years after this film was released. He showed the innate cruelty of the character near-perfect in that movie as well. 

Jack Kelly again appears in this film, playing the role of the co-pilot Jack. We saw him in the 1955 American film noir The Night Holds Terror as Gene Courtier, forming the primary lead there. 

Barry Sullivan plays the part of Cliff Henderson in the film. Again a constant fixture in several film noir in the 40s and 50s, and also Classic TV and Radio shows such as Perry Mason, The Man Called X, The Saint; along with some pretty famous movies such as the 1952 American melodrama The Bad and the Beautiful; and 1946 American film noir Suspense.

Arwin Productions was the production company which was owned by Doris Day and her then husband Martin Melcher, who was the producer for this film as well. Although Julie received Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Song, the film was generally considered a badly made one, despite the accuracy shown in aviation technology.

I recently watched a decent film noir, the 1955 The Night Holds Terror written, produced and directed by Andrew L. Stone. It wasn’t a bad movie by Stone. That is why it surprised me how disconnected Julie ended up being. As with many of his films, director Stone's wife Virginia was the Assistant Producer and Film Editor in this film as well. 

The story felt a combination of a psychological thriller and an action thriller folded into it. The basic premise of the film distinctly reminded me of the 1991 American psychological thriller Sleeping with the Enemy which was based off of Nancy Price's 1987 novel of the same. I wonder if Price was inspired by this film for the plot for her novel which she published 31 years later.

With a plot bouncing like a ping pong ball, it is amazing how the lead cast acted so well. It does provide realism, along with fiction and mystery. Sadly there were so many disconnects that the film throws the viewer off their seat many times. It does bring the best of the two actors who wanted to play different their typical roles.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Movie Trivia:

a. Notice Frank Lovejoy in the role of Detective Lieutenant Pringle. Classic radio fans would remember him as a constant fixture in many of the radio shows involving private investigators and police detectives. 

b. Recognize the doctor on the flight? He is Barney Phillips. Another Classic TV frequenter including his appearances in The Twilight Zone, American anthology series delving into the genre of horror, fantasy and sci-fi; and the original Perry Mason TV show, America legal drama series. I remember him from the Season Episode 4, Suitable for Framing, of the TV show Columbo. He played Captain Wyler in that movie. 

2) Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:

a. Although the road is straight, as seen in the rear view, Julie keeps constantly turning the steering wheel unnecessarily in the opening scene. 

b. The boom mike keeps appearing several times during the film, perhaps more times that in any film to date.

c. Note the robe that Day is wearing in the flight attendant's apartment. It is monogrammed with initials DDM, telling us that she used her personal robe for this scene.


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