Sunday, March 29, 2015


Lillian Hellman (Jane Fonda), struggling with her new play and living in a beach house with lover and mentor Dashiell Hammett (Jason Robards), is contacted through intermediaries by an eponymous childhood friend (Vanessa Redgrave) who urges her to smuggle much needed funds into Berlin by train to assist the underground war effort. Fred Zinnemann's Julia, adapted by Alvin Sargent from Hellman's own story, suffers from an identity crisis which mars the film even in its second half when the intrigue begins to pick up. For such a strong actress, Fonda reaches here and Redgrave (an Oscar recipient for her role) is excellent though she hardly has a character to work with. For me, aside from great photography, some competent yet occasionally ponderous direction, and a brief appearance by Maximilian Schell, Robards (another Oscar winner) is the reason for the movie and I often found myself hoping that the story would return to him.
** 1/2 out of ****