Raul Julia did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Joaquin "Jackie" Manero in The Morning After.
This is not really one of Julia's greatest performances and in fact I'd even say he was in a better film when he was in Street Fighter, but I can't help myself when a Julia performance is recommended just to recognize the man who was taken from this life far too soon. Anyway the mystery of The Morning After does not seem much like a mystery at all as the killing obviously has something to do with Raul Julia who is the only other character in the film besides the male lead played by Jeff Bridges who is a hillbilly? ex-detective. It was obviously not going to be Jeff Bridges as Jagged Edge was only a year before so it had to be Julia, well did it not? Well actually it isn't really because it's this character you don't see until the revelation, which I guess can work, but not if it's written this poorly. Anyway Julia's Jackie still has something to do with it.
For most of the film though Julia comes in and out of the film as Alex's hairdresser and husband although they are apparently amiable in a separation. Julia even in a bad part still has plenty of energy to go around like an early scene where he tries to replay what it was that Alex had done the night before the murder. Julia does not have all that much screen time for him to build a character but he is effective in showing the undercurrent of deceit in Jackie, and the fact that he obviously knows far more about the murder than he let's on. What Julia does though is suggest what is later explained and that is that Jackie is contemplating far more than if he was merely the murdering. There is going on in Julia's portrayal and it would have been interesting to have explored his character more but the film is terrible so it has to focus on Fonda's disjointed performance and Bridges's inconsistent accent.
The revelation at the end of the film is that Jackie is actually trying to cover for his new fiancee who apparently was the one who committed the murder. He does handle the revelation scene well particularly when Jackie is trying to kill Alex. Although the camera angle Lumet chooses is hideous, Julia is effective in showing that Jackie is almost breaking his own heart well trying to do this. In that moment he actually brings far greater depth to the piece than can be found any where else. He is even quite moving when Jackie's fiancee tries to pin the murder on him as he shows Jackie to be so honestly distraught that the woman he tried so hard to save has just betrayed him in the end. This is a more than solid performance by Julia as I do think he rises above his terrible surroundings despite the extreme limitations of the role. I have to say I would have much rather have seen the film be completely
about Julia's character moral contemplation over his actions to save his
love. Unfortunately though there just is not enough Raul to go around in this case.