Julia Fred Zinnemann

If you take Julia as a well-crafted bit of historical melodrama with a tense "behind enemy lines" sequence and loads of cant about heroism, then I can recommend the film as a pretty nice-looking time waster. But if you want it to say anything substantial about the history and relationships it depicts, you're sadly out of luck. The adaptation of Lillian Hellman's memoir deals with the noted playwright (Jane Fonda) and her relationship with childhood friend Julia (Vanessa Redgrave), who gave up her extreme wealth and privilege in order to fight fascism in Spain and Germany. After an intense childhood friendship, the pair loses touch and Hellman struggles both with writing The Children's Hour and the fame and fortune it ultimately grants her. Then Julia contacts her out of the blue to request that she smuggle $50,000 into Nazi Germany. The film moves quickly (and attractively) enough, with loads of swank party scenes and some bickering between Hellman and paramour Dashiell Hammett (Jason Robards), but you get the drift — although surely the Julia-Lillian symbiosis ran a little deeper than this? Things pick up when Hellman has to detour through Germany to make her delivery, but by the end you haven't learned much more than friendship is nice and heroism is neat. I imagine that Hellman (to say nothing of Julia) would like things to run a little deeper, but it doesn't happen — this is nothing more than swank entertainment with higher pretensions, and after it's over you wonder what the point was. The design and tech departments pull off miracles but, in the end, you know both why it was nominated for 11 Oscars and how it vanished without a trace soon thereafter. (Fox)