31 March 2002 | bmacv
Last-minute shift of gears turns Julie into routine "jep"
A thriller starring Doris Day a few years before she hit the jackpot with her string of coy sex comedies, Julie is what was known in the trade as a `jep' a woman-in-jeopardy drama. It starts off promisingly with a spat at a country club between Day and her second husband, Louis Jourdan (the first Mr. Day, a presumed suicide, may have been his victim) that escalates into an incident of road rage. Jourdan is passed off as a concert pianist you know, one of those unstable `artistic' types. And he fills out a startlingly up-to-date profile of the irrationally jealous, controlling spouse, alternating between murderous rages and mawkish contrition. (Since Charles Boyer launched the prototype of this sort of abusive male in Gaslight, it seems that Hollywood thought it safe to cast chiefly Frenchmen in subsequent outings.)
Julie wastes no time in setting Day to flee, with Jourdan in pursuit; her ally is old friend Barry Sullivan, who tries to smuggle her safely from Carmel to San Francisco. But Jourdan, who apparently missed his calling as an international master of intrigue, proves too smart for them and manages to get himself, gun in trenchcoat, aboard a cross-continental airliner.
Julie, you see, used to be an airline stewardess, and here is where the script's credibility ultimately crumbles. As the movie prepares to come in for a landing, it abruptly shifts gears, leaving behind the dark psychological drama of the noir cycle for the purely mechanical thrills of an Airport. And so what at first seemed daring revealing Jourdan as a woman-hating psycho without a tedious buildup turns into a time-saving gimmick to place Day as swiftly as possible behind the controls of an airplane. And so what started out as a psychologically astute study of obsession descends into the merely routine.