Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 22 – ‘The Red File, Part 1’

Dallas, Julie Grey, Red File Part 1, Tina Louise

Dead woman’s dive


I love the Dallas Press’s screaming headline in “The Red File, Part 1.” When Jock sits down at the Southfork breakfast table and cracks open that newspaper, I crack up.

Why does the demise of Julie, an unemployed secretary, merit a front-page, all-caps banner? What’s with the glamour shot that accompanies the story? And what crackerjack reporter got the story of Julie’s late-night death in the paper – and on page 1, no less – in time for the next day’s morning edition?

As for the question the headline poses, we may think we know the answer – Julie’s death was neither murder nor suicide; she slipped and fell – but I’m not sure it’s that cut-and-dried.

Director Leonard Katzman shoots her death scene at night, shrouding the actors in darkness, so it’s hard to see what happens in the seconds after Julie breaks out of Willie Joe’s grip and the moment she goes airborne.

What if she jumps?

Consider this: Julie is pretty distraught when she goes to the rooftop – and she knows Jeb and Willie Joe are going to kill her anyway – so what if she makes a split-second decision to do herself in?

Also, consider how Jock matter-of-factly announces her death at the Southfork breakfast table. Didn’t he almost have an affair with Julie in the previous episode?

J.R.’s reaction is also oddly muted. Yes, when he learns about Julie’s death, he retreats to the Southfork den, pours himself a stiff one (it’s breakfast time!) and looks glum, but he recovers soon enough. Within hours, J.R. is hatching a plot to frame Cliff for Julie’s death.

If he really cared about this woman, wouldn’t he want to find her real killers?

Maybe Jock and J.R.’s reactions tell us what Julie already knew: In the end, after all those years of service to the Ewings, she simply didn’t matter that much to them.

Grade: B


Bobby Ewing, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, Red File Part 1

Which is it?


Season 2, Episode 17

Airdate: February 2, 1979

Audience: 13.9 million homes, ranking 30th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: Cliff becomes the state’s land-use chief. Julie dies during a rooftop confrontation with Jeb and Willie Joe, who don’t want her to expose their secrets. When Cliff is arrested for Julie’s murder, Pam believes J.R. framed him and leaves Southfork.

Cast: John Ashton (Willie Joe Garr), Fred Beir (Ben Maxwell), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), James Brown (Detective Harry McSween), Jordan Charney (Lieutenant Sutton), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Tina Louise (Julie Grey), Jeanna Michaels (Connie), John Petlock (Dan Marsh), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Sandy Ward (Jeb Ames), Charles Wilder Young (Charlie Waters)

“The Red File, Part 1” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.


  1. I remember the scene of Julie being chased to the roof as one of Dallas’s most harrowing moments. Really pretty dark and scary.

    • I agree! Although when you’re being chased by a couple of thuggish oilmen, running to the rooftop might not be the smartest idea.

  2. How funny that all the years later when J. R. is dying of cancer in Mexico he hatches a plot to have “Bum” shoot him & then plant evidence that Cliff actually did it this time. C. B., when the Ewings need J. R., they use him to the full. But here he is suspected & hated. Cliff killed his grandkids & so Bobby is happy to use J. R.’s Masterpiece post J. R.’s death to finally deal with this unredeemable irrititant by planting evidence Ewing style! Ah the irony!

  3. When I was little, I thought it was SO COOL and cloak-and-dagger that she had that key taped to the bottom of a tray in her jewelry box.

  4. >”Why does the demise of Julie, an unemployed secretary, merit a front-page, all-caps banner?”
    Oh god, so accurate. I love Dallas but no


  1. […] Speaking of secretaries. … This is another area where your daddy had problems. Julie leaked his top-secret “red file” to Cliff, Louella ran off and got married, your Aunt Kristin – well, you better let J.R. tell you […]

  2. […] attracting trouble – his college girlfriend died after a botched abortion and he was arrested for Julie Grey’s murder and Bobby Ewing’s shooting – but he never let scandal get in the way of his ambition. Despite […]

  3. […] for shotguns and pearls (a la Miss Ellie), Marta’s deadly dive in “Collateral Damage” (shades of Julie Grey) and John Ross’s “Changing of the Guard” meeting with Marta at Cowboys Stadium, […]

  4. […] Heir” isn’t a total bust. Having Cliff acknowledge the parallels between Kristin’s death and Julie Grey’s demise is a nice touch, and by dispensing so quickly with the cliffhanger’s resolution, the show is able […]

  5. […] the original show’s second-season episode “The Red File, Part 1,” J.R.’s ex-secretary and on-again/off-again lover Julie Grey realizes he doesn’t love her, so […]

  6. […] also reminds us that he was hovering in the shadows the last time Pam left Bobby, at the end of “The Red File, Part 1” a second-season […]

  7. […] “The Red File, Part 1,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. and Julie (Larry Hagman, Tina Louise) stroll along a […]

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