I wrote about the strange and kind of wonderful My Name is Julia Ross (1945) yesterday but kept mulling over its terrific imagery today, so wanted to offer you this to give you a small taste of its weird, creepy-fun vibe. And I ask again: why didn’t more film noir have female protagonists? They inevitably spiced up the genre beautifully.

My name is Julia Ross

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What doesn’t this movie have? Cockney housemaids, creepy English country homes with secret passageways, a black cat, a mysterious back story … and all packed into a tidy 65 minutes of Hollywood movie time. Some people call this film noir, but it’s weirder than that — it’s horror, it’s gothic, it’s melodrama.

And did I mention it’s streaming on YouTube? The perfect thing for a late-night movie:

And when you watch it, pay careful attention to the first ten minutes and tell me what you think. I can’t believe this got past the censors at the time.

Julia Ross has just come in after looking for a job all day, and has a conversation with the maid who cleans her dreary boarding house. If things aren’t already bad enough, she finds a wedding invitation in the mail from a man who clearly used to be sweet on her — why, the housemaid thought for sure Julia would make him forget about that other girl. Oh well.

Cockney housemaid: If you ain’t aiming too high, I know plenty of places where you can get a job like mine. [Julia looks distressed at the notion of being a maid.] But I suppose a fine lady like you was trained for something better.

Julia Ross, looking stricken: The doctor says I’ve got to be careful for a few months.

Maid: Oh. My sister had her “appendix” out, too. She were scrubbing and cleaning the very next week.

Julia: Does it bother her now?

Maid: Nothing bothers her now. She’s dead. But it wasn’t good, honest work that killed her.

Now, tell me: is this a coded conversation about an abortion? Sure sounds that way to me.