JULIE (director/writer: Andrew L. Stone; cinematographer: Fred Jackman, Jr.; editor: Virginia Stone; music: Leith Stevens; cast: Doris Day (Julie Benton), Louis Jourdan (Lyle Benton), Barry Sullivan (Cliff Henderson), Frank Lovejoy (Det. Lt. Pringle), Jack Kelly (Jack,co-pilot), Ed Hinton (Pilot), Barney Phillips (Doctor); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Martin Melcher; MGM; 1956)
“Improbable crime thriller about a woman-in-peril, that is too uneven to be effective.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Improbable crime thriller about a woman-in-peril, that is too uneven to be effective; the banal dialogue is the final killer. Director-writer Andrew L. Stone’s overwrought thriller seemed more unintentionally funny than scary, as the suspense never hits on all cylinders. There are those who might find this bad film even more entertaining than if it were a good film; that is, if they don’t take it seriously.
Julie Benton (Doris Day) leaves her fancy golf club in San Francisco disturbed by her second husband’s jealousy. Lyle Benton (Louis Jourdan) is a successful classical pianist who married Julie when her businessman first husband supposedly committed suicide. While driving home, Lyle presses Julie’s foot against the gas pedal and holds it there as they speed across a winding country road. He does this to scare her, as he’s insanely jealous that she spoke to another man at the club. The next day Julie tells this to her longtime friend Cliff Henderson (Barry Sullivan), who fears she might be living with the murderer of her husband. Cliff clues Julie in that her hubby had no reason to hang himself and that Lyle mentioned he was already jealous of her hubby and would do anything to get her. On a vacation in Monterey, California, Julie plots to get Lyle to admit killing her hubby. When he admits strangling him and further tells her he’ll never let her leave him alive, she runs away from their isolated vacation cottage and to no avail tells the Monterey police. They claim there’s nothing they can do about a closed police case without further evidence to reopen it. Lyle’s confession can’t be corroborated and is not enough for them to get involved, as they’re more worried about being sued for a false arrest than her safety. Cliff arrives from San Francisco and drives her back to their hometown and registers her under an assumed name in a hotel. Telling the police investigator Det. Lt. Pringle (Frank Lovejoy) also proves useless, as he says his hands are tied. But since Julie is a stewardess and is scheduled to leave tomorrow on a flight, he is willing to provide overnight police protection.
The psychopathic Lyle is now bent out of shape and tracks down Cliff, and shoots him to gain information about where Julie is staying. Since discovered in the hotel by Lyle, she’s secretly staying alone at her girlfriend stewardess’ apartment and has to leave that night on an emergency unscheduled flight. Somehow the police miss her before she leaves for work. The third act is about how Lyle boards the plane and critically shoots the pilot and co-pilot before he’s overtaken by his own bullet wound, as Julie has to bring in the plane alone when guided by radio contact from the control tower.
Doris Day, to her credit, gives it her best shot and tries to take it seriously even when the melodrama moves way past the point of just being ridiculous. Later disaster movies stole some of those airplane landing scenes.
REVIEWED ON 6/6/2005 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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