Saturday, October 22, 2011

Do You Know Who I Am??

A fun little thriller which I can really recommend is My Name Is Julia Ross, which is airing tonight at 11:45 PM on TCM.

Nina Foch stars as Julia Ross, a young lady in London in search of a job. She goes to an employment agency where she meets the elderly Mrs. Hughes (Dame May Whitty), who has an offer for a personal secretary position. It's a match made in heaven, except that without conflict we wouldn't have a movie. Julia takes the job, heads off to the Hughes place, and.... The next morning, Ross wakes up to find things are completely unfamiliar to her. She's not in the house where she first went, and Mrs. Hughes and her son Ralph (George Macready) are telling her that she's actually Ralph's wife and not this "Julia Ross"!

Alfred Hitchock famously described the difference between horror and suspense: in horror, we don't know what's happening, and the bomb going off comes as a surprise; but in suspense, the director makes sure that the audiences knows fully well where the bomb is and when it's going to go off. My Name Is Julia Ross is definitely in the suspense camp, then. We know that Foch is really Julia Ross, and that the suggestion from the little old lady and her son are lies woven from whole cloth. Still, we have to find out why they're doing this, and what they intend to do with Julia.

Julia, on her part, naturally tries to escape, or let people around her know that she is really Julia Ross. And yet, every time she tries, things go wrong. The servants don't believe her, largely because they've been told that Ralph's wife has gone insane. So of course anything she tells them about actually being Julia Ross is going to be, if not a lie, then at least a paranoid delusion. How will Julia get anybody to believe her?

The only problem with a movie like My Name is Julia Ross -- and to be fair, even a great film like Gaslight or The Lady Vanishes has this problem -- is that you really have to suspend disbelief for the plot to work. If you can do that, however, the result is quite an entertaining little movie, and one that won't overtax you with its brief 65-minute running time.

No comments: