"Julia": film biography of a famous television cooking personality (and an earlier film of that name)

On Sunday, May 29, 2022, CNN aired the documentary biography Julia, directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, chronicling the life and public cooking career of Julia Carolyn McWilliams (1912-2004), married as Julia Child in 1946. The 2021 theatrical lease belongs to Sony Pictures Classics. It also has played on HBO Max.

(Caption: Julia biography of cook, trailer)

Julia (too tall to enlist in the Women’s Army Corps – remember the film “Never Wave at a WAC”) worked as a civilian clerk in Naval Intelligence. She became interested in French cuisine when her husband moved to Paris in 1948.

Julia launched her media career by authoring the encyclopediac book “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” (1961), with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, published by Knopf (Houghton Mifflin had the first contract and didn’t like the style – which today works in cookbooks). She would go on to author many others, but gradually she moved into television, with cooking shows where she aimed to become entertaining with an impromptu style of presentation, allowing herself to make mistakes and using a lot of metaphors in her speech.

I can recall there were other cooking shows when I was growing up, like 'Homemaker’s Exchange'.  Should little boys have noticed? Or does that make the Left see them as more feminine or non-binary? What about the Polarity Theory?

Julia apparently had a breast cancer mastectomy in the 1960s and she was never able to have children. Nevertheless, her views of the world could be quite conservative, even homophobic, until she learned about AIDS after a close friend died, and then she would assist with food for AIDS-related fundraisers.

There was another film by this name in 1977, Julia (1977, 20th Century Fox, dir. Fred Zinnemann, 118 min, PG-13), I saw this film on the upper East Side in Manhattan, NYC that year, and the audience gave it an ovation at the end. This is the story of the relationship between playwright Lillian Hellmann (Jane Fonda) (from her memoir Pentimento) and her long term friend Julia (Vanessa Redgrave), who eventually enlists Lilian to help smuggle funds to the anti-Nazi resistance. I remember a climactic encounter in a bar in Berlin where the two friends meet near the end of the movie, when Julia then has only one leg.

Caption: 1977 film Julia trailer

"Never Wave at a WAC" (1952, RKO Radio / Independent Artists, dir. Norman Z. McLeod) Jo McBain (Rosalind Russell) joins the Army during WWII to be closer to her boyfriend (that sounds like unit cohesion with heterosexuals in the military, doesn't it) and has a hard time (to say the least) with Army life. She winds up testing clothes and gets into some I-Love-Lucy like comedy. The trailers on YT are colorized, but The Film Detective offers the original BW full feature free.

(Caption) Never Wave at a WAC, full film)

I saw that film with Mother on the way to pick up father at the airport, still remember it (same story for "High Noon").

(Posted: Wednesday, June 1, 2022 at 2 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)