Day 17 of Noirvember: Ralph Hughes in My Name is Julia Ross (1945)

Today’s Noirvember post shines the spotlight on a seriously scary dude: Ralph Hughes in My Name is Julia Ross (1945).

Ralph Hughes is one creepy dude.

WHAT’S MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS ABOUT?

Julia Ross (Nina Foch) is an unemployed Londoner who is hired as the live-in secretary to a wealthy widow, Mrs. Hughes (Dame May Whitty). But after spending her first night in the Hughes‘s home, Julia awakens two days later to find that she’s been transported to the family’s seaside mansion in Cornwall, that all of her clothes are gone, and that she’s being addressed as Marion Hughes – the wife of Mrs. Hughes’s son Ralph (George Macready). She’s further told that she’s had a nervous breakdown and that she cannot leave the property – for her own safety, of course. The truth is that Ralph Hughes has murdered the real Marion, and he and his mother have a similar fate in mind for Julia.

INTRODUCING RALPH HUGHES:

We first see Ralph during Julia’s interview with his other, Mrs. Hughes. There’s nothing out of the ordinary about him – he doesn’t say much and appears to be pleasant, even nondescript. But when Julia leaves, the red flags start popping up. When his mother opines that Julia will be perfect, Ralph agrees, adding that “there’s even a small resemblance.” What does he mean by this? We don’t yet know, but we’re soon to find out. Meanwhile, Ralph makes more of an impression later that night, after Julia reports to her new position. While she’s sleeping, her purse and clothes are removed from her room, and Mrs. Hughes gives directions to the two co-conspirators in her employ that Julia’s belongings are to be destroyed. And that’s when we get a gander at Ralph, who’s apparently already gotten into the spirit of things and is methodically ripping one of Julia’s garments with a knife. His mother orders him to put the knife away, but Ralph merely continues with his task until his mother goes a step further: “Try to remember,” she tells him. “If it weren’t for your temper, we wouldn’t be in this awful trouble today.” It’s only then that Ralph apologizes and puts the knife away. (Yikes!)

WHY DID I PICK RALPH?

He’s creepy to the nth degree. He has an abnormal relationship with his mother, a peculiar fixation with knives, and often seems to be barely holding himself together. He’s probably one of the scarier characters that I’ve spotlighted this year – whether he’s kissing Julia with such force that he draws blood, or mindlessly ripping a sofa to shreds with his knife, you can be that you won’t soon forget him.

FROM THE MOUTH OF RALPH:

“Would you like to listen to the sea and hear what it says? It doesn’t say anything, does it? That’s what I like about the sea. It never tells its secrets, and it has many — very many – secrets.”

PLAYED BY GEORGE MACREADY:

George Macready was born on August 29, 1908, in Providence, Rhode Island. He was educated in the public schools of Providence, and attended Brown University, where he made his first attempt at exploring his longtime interest in acting. It was while he was enrolled at Brown that he was involved in an accident that led to the distinctive scar on his right cheek. Macready was riding in a car with six of his fraternity brother when the car hit a telephone pole and Macready went through the windshield. After graduating from Brown, Macready joined the American Laboratory Theater, founded by Richard Boleslawski and Maria Ouspenskaya. Macready made his stage debut with the company, playing the duke in Twelfth Night, and spent the next several years honing his craft with the American Laboratory Theater and the Bonstelle stock company in Detroit, Michigan. He eventually made his way to Broadway, appearing in such productions as Romeo and Juliet with Katherine Cornell and Orson Welles, and Victoria Regina with Helen Hayes and Vincent Price. His performances caught the attention of Hollywood, and he made his film debut in 1942, playing a schoolteacher in Columbia’s The Commandos Strike at Dawn. Three years later, he stepped into the shadows of film noir with My Name is Julia Ross.

Join me in the shadows tomorrow for Day 18 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 17, 2021.

5 Responses to “Day 17 of Noirvember: Ralph Hughes in My Name is Julia Ross (1945)”

  1. I knew the face, but never the name. A scary face and the thin-bladed voice to match. I’m learning so much from shadowsandsatin. I love it!

  2. You just want that character to leave. You know he’s making things happen but the response is not logical, it is purely emotional.

  3. There are many unsettling things about this film’s plot, but George Macready takes it to a new level. Like you said, his character is unforgettable.

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