Okay, I am no admirer of Doris Day; I find her music sleep inducing and suggest medically it could probably be used as a definitive cure for insomnia. Her albums are posters for 1950’s bland. As for her film career, it is spotty at best. “Pillow Talk” is a likable romantic comedy, and in “Love Me or Leave Me,” as real life singer Ruth Etting, she gets one of her best roles in her career, and opposite James Cagney no less! “Midnight Lace” is a nice attempt, if not totally successful, at recreating a Hitchcock thriller atmosphere. Then of course, there is the real Hitchcock film, “The Man Who Knew Too Much” which ranks as the high point in Ms. Day’s film career. She is wonderful in the famous Albert Hall sequence where without any dialogue whatsoever she conveys the anxiety, the tension to save her child while at the same time knowing that a political figure is about to be assassinated.
Then there is “Julie” released in 1956, right after “The Man Who Knew Too Much” which must have made this film’s weaknesses even more evident to the more demanding filmgoers in the audience. The film was produced by her then husband Marty Melcher who must accept much of the responsibility for Day’s later atrocities such as “Ballad of Josie,” “Caprice” and “The Glass Bottom Boat” to name a few. The film was directed insipidly by Andrew L Stone, who also wrote the script while his wife and partner Virginia L. Stone was the editor.
The plot is inane. Here is what you’re are in for. Before your artificially flavored popcorn spread even has a chance to soak in, Julie (Doris Day) is in fear her new husband, Lyle Benton (Louis Jordan) is a murderer and now wants to kill her. We are told quickly Lyle was responsible for Julie’s first husband’s death. You see, Lyle is obsessed with Julie, he wants her for himself so he removed husband number one from the picture. Julie spends most of the film running away from Lyle, and Lyle, the sneaky dude that he is, always manages to find her. The police are no help; they don’t believe poor Julie is in any danger.
She then runs into old friend Cliff Henderson (Barry Sullivan) who helps her escape to San Francisco only to be found by crazy Lyle once again. Her next attempt to escape her terror is by reclaiming her former job as a flight attendant which she seemed to be able to do as quickly as tossing a frozen meal into the microwave. Make a phone call, bam you got your job back!
Before you know it, Julie is on a flight out of California. Only so is Lyle who manages to discover her plans yet again, getting on board the plane without even a ticket! Talk about lackadaisical security. Lyle easily finds a seat and a newspaper to cover his face until the plane is in the air. Once airborne, Lyle shoots the pilot, with a gun he smuggled on board, and wounds the co-pilot before getting killed himself.
But wait, there’s more!
The co-pilot (Jack Kelly) is wounded so badly he keeps floating in and out of consciousness! Certainly, no way to fly an aircraft. So, guess what? It’s up to old Julie to fly the plane! In between his bouts of consciousness and la-la land the co-pilot instructs Julie on flying the aircraft. “I can’t do it, ” she cries out. “You must!” the co-pilot mumbles. The co-pilot can’t hang on much longer. He soon blanks out. Now it’s up to the airport controllers to assist Julie in landing the flight. Can she do it?
Of course she can! Julie brings the plane down safely, saving a couple of hundred lives. Que Sera, Sera. Opps wrong movie.
There is plenty of bad dialogue spread throughout but one point I want to note is related to how women are condescended to here. This was the 1950’s and during the “exciting” landing with Julie at the controls we have the airport controller helping guide her in bringing down the flight safely. Good so far, only he talks to her almost in a childlike manner referring to her as “girl” as in “atta girl” and “a little to the left, honey.” My God, the woman is flying a plane! Condescending to say the least. Then again, it was the 1950’s and that was the way it was.
Is there anything good about this film? Well yes, the early scenes were filmed in Carmel along the California coast. It’s beautiful and the location filming introduced Doris to the area where she would live for most of her life. She fell in love with the area which is easy to understand. That said, “Julie” is a contrived, poor excuse for a thriller. As I stated at the beginning, I am not admirer of Doris Day but she deserved better.