Fans of no-frills film noir with a gothic twist will have a field day with My Name Is Julia Ross, a humdinger of a little thriller. Ross is practically the definition of taut, coming in at a lean 65 minutes and moving along at a rapid pace without ever feeling rushed. Major credit for the film's success goes to director Joseph H. Lewis and cinematographer Burnett Guffey, who team up to give the picture plenty of suspense, tension, and chills. The visual is of special importance in noir, and Lewis and Guffey use the special qualities of black-and-white photography to great effect here, creating mood and anxiety through judicious use of angles, shadows, and lighting. There's a great 360-degree shot at a crucial point in the story, and an abundance of close-ups forces viewers to feel like they are immediate participants in the goings-on while also adding to a sense of claustrophobia appropriate to a story about a woman physically trapped and confined. This is not to ignore the contributions of Muriel Roy Bolton's screenplay, which is packed to the brim with twists and turns and is plotted within an inch of its life. Some, however, may feel that the emphasis on plot and atmosphere comes at the expense of character development, which is certainly true. However, Ross is such a fun roller-coaster ride that most will not object to this failing. While Dame May Whitty, cast against type, is not quite up to her usual standard, Nina Foch is aces and George Macready is a wonderful villain. A little gem, My Name Is Julia Ross deserves to be more widely seen.
by Craig Butler review