Doris Day , Julie, 1956Someone is trying to kill Doris Day!

Director Andrew Stone had the ability to make a lot of films appear to be better than they were – he was economic but managed to make his films look like expensive productions. Most of them turned out to be surprisingly entertaining, with the exception of his attempt to resurrect the operetta, Song of Norway, in the early 1970s. The film, based on the Broadway successful show, and The Great Waltz, dubbed The Great Schmaltz by critics, effectively ended his career.

Julie, his late 1956 release – now remastered and available on DVD – pleased its intended audience, thanks to gritty performances from stars Doris Day and Louis Jourdan and a taut script that rarely falters in its crackling pace. Sure there are holes in the plot and any fan of this kind of story (the wife in peril) will know the ending long before it happens. Nevertheless, it’s what was known as a ‘popcorn movie’ and the picture nabbed two Oscar Nominations (for screenplay and title song). It lost the title song award to another Day recording, Whatever Will Be, Will Be, from Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Doris Day suspects her husband Louis Jourdan is trying to kill her in director Andrew L Stone’s tense thriller, Julie.

Doris Day suspects her husband, Louis Jourdan, is trying to kill her in the tense thriller, Julie.

Doris Day plays Julie, a newly remarried widow who works as an airline hostess. She is married to Lyle, a gifted pianist, and they live in a beautiful coastal town in California. Lyle is obsessively jealous and it manifests itself in a series of unsettling incidents that makes Julie begin to question their relationship as well as the circumstances surrounding the death of her late husband.

The film’s conclusion in which Doris successfully pilots a passenger plane has gone down in film lore. It should be pointed out that Day’s acting and piloting skills here are superior to those evidenced by Karen Black in 1973’s Airport 1975, in which she too pulls the same trick. It’s all very improbable but dished out with such conviction by the cast that one can overlook the improbability.

Doris Day delivers a fine performance in the leading role as Julie.

Doris Day delivers a fine performance in the leading role.

Day is sympathetic in the part but never acts like a victim. She has a great chemistry with Louis Jourdan, who plays her husband Lyle believably. Interestingly Jourdan lived across the street from Day in Beverly Hills for some years. Despite his dashing portrayal as leading man in the classic film, Gigi, Jourdan has always made a much more interesting villain, including the character of Kamal in the James Bond film, Octopussy, 1983. Barry Sullivan and Frank Lovejoy, among the supporting players, play stereotypical roles with flair and the stunning scenes shot in Carmel, California translate well even in black and white.

Doris Day loved Carmel so much while making this film that 25 years later she moved her primary residence to this quaint, charming, and dramatic location. While Julie is not nearly as good as Doris Day’s other two thrillers, The Man Who Knew Too Much and Midnight Lace, it will satisfy most thriller fans and those of Miss Day.

Paul E Brogan

Fear of flying and the filming of Julie

Doris Day undertook stewardess training and flying experience in preparation for Julie.

Doris Day undertook stewardess training and flying experience in preparation for Julie.

Doris Day acquired a wholesome respect for airline hostesses as a result of the three-week stewardess training she underwent in the course of preparing for her role. She had a pronounced dislike of flying, a fear that she eventually overcame with considerable effort. Before the filming of Julie was completed, she was flying from one location to another by helicopter. Doris commented:

I held my breath and shut my eyes as long as I could. By the time I had my eyes open again we were airborne. I kept telling myself that I wasn’t scared, that I was actually enjoying the feeling of flying. I must have hypnotized myself because now I feel safer in a plane than in a car.”
(Unfortunately, this feeling didn’t last long! – webmaster)

According to the publicity issued at the time of this film’s release, a total of 120 live sets were used on 48 different location sites by director Andrew Stone. Location shots ranged from Carmel, California, to San Francisco. Filming took place in the famous Del Monte Lodge, nine apartment houses, a San Francisco office building, a mining engineer’s headquarters, 13 airport buildings, two private homes, seven stores and scores of miscellaneous edifices. The filming of a seventeen-mile chase on the Monterey Peninsula required nine cameramen, with two weeks of aerial filming aboard three DC-6 aircraft. Because of the extensive use of actual live sets, the producers and director were required to take out 44 separate insurance policies written for the various location sites and buildings, covering antiques and furniture. – Derald Hendry

Doris and Marty find harmony

Martin Melcher and Doris Day.

‘I’d get home at night and we’d argue. It got worse and worse’, Doris Day.

By her own account, Doris Day was spiritually troubled around this time and searching for a measure of inner peace, “I was a success, it seemed that I had everything – including a lot of fears that I couldn’t put my finger on,” she told Guideposts in 1958. She spoke of meeting a troubled man from her past, ‘John’ – possibly her second husband, George Weidler, 1946-1949, who introduced her to Christian Science and the concept of ‘harmony’, which Doris and Marty embraced with enthusiasm.

The biggest argument we ever had, was when Marty and I got into our first independent production, a movie called Julie. Up to then, he was my husband and manager, and I’d come home nights and tell him all my troubles. But with Julie I came home to a producer, a worried producer who was way behind schedule, and I suppose I was as much to blame for that as anyone.

I’d get home at night and we’d argue. It got worse and worse. He was too kind to tell me that as a producer he couldn’t cater to a ‘star’. Not with so many others involved. There just wasn’t any peace then, on the set or at home. One night the argument really reached the boiling point. We both knew if we went one hair-step further we’d even threaten our respect for each other.“Marty,” I said, unable to say what I wanted to. “Yes,” he said. “We’re forgetting.” In forgetting harmony, we were losing the only real way to communicate with each other. Read More

Script conference: director Andrew Stone with Doris Day and Louis Jourdan

Script conference: director Andrew Stone with Doris Day and Louis Jourdan.


More Reviews

Doris Day suspects her husband Louis Jourdan is trying to kill her in director Andrew L Stone’s tense thriller. Stone’s specialty of filming dramas in real-life situations with authentic props is put to good use here, and he certainly whips up the suspense even if the plot becomes rather implausible in places.

Doris Day is radiant and Louis Jourdan very convincing as the baddie while Hollywood stalwarts Barry Sullivan and Frank Lovejoy give perfectly weighted supporting performances. In the film’s most memorable scene, Day has to land a plane with the help of a ground crew, a sequence later copied for Airport 1975 and parodied in Airplane!” – BBC Radio Times

Doris Day and Louis Jourdan Doris Day, as well as movie, in trouble

(New York Times) “Doris Day, who was pretty tense and breathless all the way through The Man Who Knew Too Much, is again tense and breathless in Julie. This time, her state of anxiety is caused by an insane husband who intends to remove her from circulation because she knows that he murdered her former spouse. This is a lot of tension to expect any woman to bear, so if Miss Day seems to look a little frazzled toward the end, you can understand. And if the accumulation of trouble seems to pile up unmercifully, too, you can put the blame for both disorders upon the writer-director, Andrew L. Stone.

For it is quite clear that Mr. Stone set out to keep his heroine under menace all the way, no matter how coldly calculated or implausible that might be. The picture isn’t going two minutes before the lady is in a car, racing madly along the tops of cliffs and what-not because her husband won’t take his foot off the accelerator. And that’s the way it is throughout the picture – the action is unreasonable, but, if you are credulous and casual, it makes for a lively show.

Let’s say the whole thing is a contrivance and the acting is in the same vein. Miss Day wrings her hands and looks frantic not so much because she feels it as because she gets her cues. Mr. Jourdan acts menacing on schedule, especially when he is playing his piano ominously and looking out at his lady from those dark and piercing eyes.

And Barry Sullivan and Frank Lovejoy, who play helpful gentlemen, do so in the manner of old soldiers in the melodrama wars. There is one mark of distinction: Mr. Stone has shot much of this film along the beautiful California seacoast in the vicinity of Monterey. That makes it easy to look at. Indeed, it makes it thrilling, at times. This was a happy indulgence of producer Martin Melcher and MGM.” – Bosley Crowther, New York Times

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