The story of Frances Farmer's meteoric rise to fame in Hollywood and the tragic turn her life took when she was blacklisted.



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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Harry York
Bart Burns ...
Studio Stylist
James Brodhead ...
Desk Sergeant
Lady at Roosevelt Hotel (as J.J. Chaback)
Harold Clurman
Rod Colbin ...
Sentencing Judge
Daniel Chodos ...
'No Escape' director
Donald Craig ...
Ralph Edwards
Sarah Cunningham ...
Alma Styles
'Flowing Gold' Director


Frances Farmer, a precocious Seattle teenager, takes unpopular social and political positions, to the mixed reactions of her parents. Frances becomes an actress and has some strong success in New York, but her refusal to bend her convictions and her outspoken (but sometimes naive) political expressiveness cause her difficulties, especially after she accepts a Hollywood contract. Torn between new-found success and intense feelings that she does not deserve the riches and fame she gains from the phoniness of Hollywood, Frances butts heads with studio executives and with her own mother, who revels in Frances's fame but provides Frances no emotional support. When drunken fights and arrests derail her career, Frances is sent to a psychiatric hospital with the acquiescence of her mother. What follows is a nightmare of poor treatment and psychological trauma, augmented by the increasing determination of Frances's mother to control her daughter's life. Written by Jim Beaver <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Beautiful. Talented. Intelligent. Courageous. She Was Frances Farmer. She Should've Been The Silver Screen's Greatest Star. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

3 February 1983 (Argentina)  »

Also Known As:

Frances, μια αδέσμευτη γυναίκα  »

Box Office


$5,000,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard fell in love while working on the movie and subsequently had two children together, Hanna and Walker. See more »


The recreated movie marquee for "Come and Get It" incorrectly spells Joel McCrea's name as McCrae. See more »


Harry York: Frances, you're crazy.
Frances Farmer: [softly] Don't tell anybody.
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Mouth (2008) See more »


It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
Music by Duke Ellington
Lyrics by Irving Mills
Arranged and Performed by Mood Indigo
See more »

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User Reviews

Robbed of an Oscar...
30 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Jessica Lange was robbed of an Academy Award for her mesmerizing performance in the 1982 film, FRANCES, a relatively gripping character study/biography of the late 1930's actress Frances Farmer, who, after being ostracized from Hollywood, ended up being declared insane, institutionalized, and lobotomized, according to this screenplay. Not knowing a lot about the actress before the release of this film, I have never been sure of how factual it is (I always got the feeling that the Harry York character, played by Sam Shepherd, was fictional), but how many screen biographies are big on the facts? Sometimes facts are glossed over and/or ignored for the sake of preserving or igniting drama. Whether or not this is true is for those who knew Farmer to say. I did see an interview once with Farmer's nephew (?) who was very pleased with Lange's interpretation of Farmer and that is exactly why this film is worth seeing. Despite a meandering screenplay, turgid direction, and a feeling the movie is about 30 minutes too long, this movie is worth seeing for one reason and one reason only...the riveting performance by Jessica Lange. She is in virtually every frame of this movie and makes every single moment vivid and striking and achingly real. This film should be shown to acting classes on a daily basis...maybe the best performance by an actress in a leading role during the decade of the 1980's. Not a great film, but an amazing performance by a consummate actress that must be seen to be believed.

47 of 58 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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