For almost two decades, between the beginning of the 1940s and the end of the 1950s, film noir played an integral role in Hollywood’s output. It was a genre which contained a raft of familiar tropes, most notably the femme fatale and the hardened gumshoe. It wasn’t always strong on originality; one success could rapidly spawn a number of copycat movies. What Joseph H. Lewis’s 1945 drama My Name is Julia Ross does so well is to avoid these clichés. It enters the realm of the Gothic instead.
Desperate for work, Julia Ross (Nina Foch) visits a new employment agency and is thrilled to get a job of a live-in secretary for a wealthy widow, Mrs.Hughes (May Whitty). Her first day on the job doesn’t quite go to plan, waking-up two days later to find herself a prisoner in a rural seaside village. She’s told that her name is actually Marion and is the wife of Ralph Hughes (George Macready) but due to having a nervous breakdown can’t remember anything. She doesn’t buy it for a second and with only the help of an admirer (Roland Varno) must try and find a way to escape.
My Name is Julia Ross is a wrong-footing crime drama which holds its audience in a state of perpetual anxiety. Based on Anthony Gilbert’s novel The Woman in Red, Muriel Roy Bolton’s script is cleverly written to always keep the outcome up in the air. It’s beautifully shot, the rugged coastal backdrop adding a spectre of darkness and danger at every turn. My Name is Julia Ross is a compelling work of psychological terror and a refreshingly original film noir.
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
My Name is Julia Ross is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Academy on 18 February.