Friday, March 23, 2012

Movie: "Julia"

"Julia" is an old movie (1977) starring Jane Fonda as Lillian Hellman and Vanessa Redgrave as her lifelong friend Julia. I had always been curious about it so I ordered it from Netflix.

The movie also stars Jason Robards as Lillian's long-time off-and-on lover Dashiel Hammett. They appear to be an older man and younger woman in the movie but in reality she was 12 years older than him. They met in Hollywood when she was a screenwriter for a studio. The star power in the movie was enough to draw me in, but the story is an edge-of-the-seat scary one that I loved.

Actually there was no Julia, although Hellman and Hammett always claimed the story was true. It is based on a chapter of Hellman's book Pentimento. In the movie they are girlhood friends with Julia as the leader and Lillian as devoted follower. As adults, gossip spreads that they are lovers, an assumption that is maddening to Hellman. Then Julia goes abroad to study and ends up in medical school in Vienna as the Nazi's are taking over. Nazi youth swarm the medical school, kill many of the men, and beat Julia almost to death. She loses a leg, and then is whisked off to another hospital and Lillian can't find her.

The best part of the movie is when Jewish Hellman delivers money to Julia in Berlin to help get people out of Germany. She goes from Paris to Moscow by train with a stop in Berlin. I was a nervous wreck; so was she of course.

I've told too much of the story but there is more and if you haven't seen it, I do recommend it. The coincidental fact that I'm reading a novel about Nazi Germany just added to my tension while watching the movie but this is well worth watching.


  1. That brings back memories - that movie was forever ago!!!

  2. I've never even heard of it. I wonder if it's on Netflix streaming.

  3. Jill, I didn't think you were old enough to remember this one. :D

    Kathy, I would guess that it is on Netflix streaming since I got the DVD from them. I think you might like it. Redgrave was nominated for an Academy Award for her role, and a young Jane Fonda was very good too.

  4. You have made me curious to see it. I read the drama several years ago but wasn´t too impressed as both characters seemed a bit bland to me, but with Fonda and Redgrave it must be quite a different experience.

  5. I don't remember ever seeing this movie. It sounds terrific. As I was reading the Dashiell Hammett short story there was some background info on his marriage. Some government health worker told Hammett and his wife that he should not be around their daughters very often as they might be hurt by his tuberculosis. He moved out and only visited on weekends but it eventually ruined their marriage. He eventually left them in San Francisco and moved to southern California.

  6. Such a wonderful review, Barbara. I watched it again recently and thought it even better than when I saw it all those years ago. Oh, Vanessa! She is just so great. But really Jane Fonda did an excellent job with her character.
    I read all those Lillian Hellman books a long time ago and then heard a lot of what she wrote as truth, wasn't. Since seeing the movie, I've been thinking about her and those memoirs, and I might want to read them again.