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Frances (1982) More at IMDbPro »

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Frances -- Jessica Lange stars in her Oscar-nominated performance of the true 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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7.4/10   5,178 votes »
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Down 17% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
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Release Date:
3 February 1983 (Argentina) See more »
Beautiful. Talented. Intelligent. Courageous. She Was Frances Farmer. She Should've Been The Silver Screen's Greatest Star. See more »
The true story of Frances Farmer's meteoric rise to fame in Hollywood and the tragic turn her life took when she was blacklisted. | Add synopsis »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 4 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
The horror of lobotomy and mental institutions as an American tragedy See more (54 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Jessica Lange ... Frances Farmer

Kim Stanley ... Lillian Farmer

Sam Shepard ... Harry York
Bart Burns ... Ernest Farmer

Jonathan Banks ... Hitchhiker

Bonnie Bartlett ... Studio Stylist
James Brodhead ... Desk Sergeant

Jane Jenkins ... Lady at Roosevelt Hotel (as J.J. Chaback)

Jordan Charney ... Harold Clurman
Rod Colbin ... Sentencing Judge
Daniel Chodos ... 'No Escape' director
Donald Craig ... Ralph Edwards
Sarah Cunningham ... Alma Styles

Lee de Broux ... 'Flowing Gold' Director

Jeffrey DeMunn ... Clifford Odets
Jack Fitzgerald ... Clapper Man

Nancy Foy ... Autograph Girl

Anne Haney ... Hairdresser
Richard L. Hawkins ... Bum on Street (as Richard Hawkins)

James Karen ... Judge Hillier

Darrell Larson ... Louella's Spy
Patricia Larson ... Mrs. Hillier
Albert Lord ... 'Flowing Gold' Assistant Director
Vincent Lucchesi ... Arresting Sergeant
Jack Manning ... Studio Photographer

Gerald S. O'Loughlin ... Lobotomy Doctor

Woodrow Parfrey ... Dr. Doyle

Christopher Pennock ... Dick Steele
Rod Pilloud ... Martoni Kaminski
Larry Pines ... Man on Phone / Bookie Joint

John Randolph ... Kindly Judge

Allan Rich ... Mr. Bebe

Jack Riley ... Bob Barnes

David Schroeder ... Studio Lawyer (as David V. Schroeder)
Helen Schustack ... Wardrobe Mistress

Sandra Seacat ... Drama Teacher
Charles Seaverns ... Real Estate Man

Lane Smith ... Dr. Symington
Karin Strandjord ... Connie

Vern Taylor ... Studio Executive
Andrew Winner ... Firechief

Biff Yeager ... Motorcycle Cop

Keone Young ... Chinese Doctor

Alexander Zale ... Man in Screening Room
Paul Fleming ... Reports, Publicists, Photographers

M.C. Gainey ... Reports, Publicists, Photographers
Roger Galloway ... Reports, Publicists, Photographers
Matthew Goldsby ... Reports, Publicists, Photographers

Paul Keith ... Reports, Publicists, Photographers

F. William Parker ... Reports, Publicists, Photographers
Charles Shull ... Reports, Publicists, Photographers
Teda Bracci ... Mental Patient
Jan Burrell ... Mental Patient
Flo Di Re ... Mental Patient (as Flo di Re)
Dodds Frank ... Mental Patient

Patricia Gaul ... Mental Patient
Robin Ginsburg ... Mental Patient

Pamela Gordon ... Mental Patient

Anjelica Huston ... Mental Patient
Jamie Johnston ... Mental Patient
Ola Kauffman ... Mental Patient (as Ola Kaufman)
Donna Lamana ... Mental Patient (as Donna LaMana)
Sharmagne Leland-St. John ... Mental Patient
Jane Lillig ... Mental Patient
Alexandra Melchi ... Mental Patient
Patricia Post ... Mental Patient

Zelda Rubinstein ... Mental Patient (as Zelda Rubenstein)
Nina Schneider ... Mental Patient
Marlene Silvers ... Mental Patient
Vicki Williams ... Mental Patient
Susan Wolf ... Mental Patient
Tom Amundsen ... Doctors, Nurses and Orderlies
Anne Haslett ... Doctors, Nurses and Orderlies
Barry Jamesby ... Doctors, Nurses and Orderlies
Leonard Lookabaugh ... Doctors, Nurses and Orderlies (as Len Lookabaugh)
Oceana Marr ... Doctors, Nurses and Orderlies
Vahan Moosekian ... Doctors, Nurses and Orderlies
Tom Pletts ... Doctors, Nurses and Orderlies
Eileen T'Kaye ... Doctors, Nurses and Orderlies
Lila Waters ... Doctors, Nurses and Orderlies
Charles Prior ... Soldier
Carl Kraines ... Soldier
rest of cast listed alphabetically:

Kevin Costner ... Luther (Man in Alley) (uncredited)

J. Michael Flynn ... Minor Role (uncredited)

Ted King ... Doctor (uncredited)
Casey MacGill ... Singer, musician (uncredited)
Michael Mallory ... Seattle Reporter (uncredited)

Allen Nause ... Reports - Publicists - Photographers (uncredited)

Jayne Taini ... Nurse (uncredited)

Directed by
Graeme Clifford 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Eric Bergren 
Christopher De Vore 
Nicholas Kazan 

Produced by
Jonathan Sanger .... producer
Mel Brooks .... executive producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
John Barry 
Cinematography by
László Kovács 
Film Editing by
John Wright 
Casting by
Nancy Foy 
Janet Hirshenson 
Jane Jenkins 
Elisabeth Leustig 
Production Design by
Richard Sylbert 
Art Direction by
Ida Random 
Set Decoration by
George Gaines 
Costume Design by
Patricia Norris 
Makeup Department
Florence Avery .... makeup artist
Melanie Levitt .... makeup artist
Nadia .... makeup artist
Dorothy J. Pearl .... makeup designer (as Dorothy Pearl)
Robert L. Stevenson .... hair stylist (as Robert Stevenson)
Toni-Ann Walker .... hair designer (as Toni Walker)
Production Management
Charles Mulvehill .... unit production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Debra DuVal .... dga trainee
Michael Green .... second assistant director
Ed Milkovich .... first assistant director
William Scott .... first assistant director
Art Department
David Goldstein .... location lead painter
Emad Helmey .... set designer
Mike Higelmire .... leadman (as Michael Higelmire)
Ray Mercer Jr. .... property master
William A. Parks .... construction coordinator
Ernest Phillips .... stand by painter (as Ernest J. Phillips)
Arthur Shippee .... assistant property master (as Arthur B. Shippee Jr.)
Matt Springman .... assistant property master (as Matthew Springman)
Sharmagne Leland-St. John .... assistant: Richard Sylbert (uncredited)
Sound Department
Neil Brody .... sound re-recording mixer
Michael Colgan .... sound editor
Nicholas Vincent Korda .... assistant adr editor (as Nick Korda)
Robert J. Litt .... sound re-recording mixer
Robert Nichols II .... sound recordist
Charleen Richards .... adr mixer (as Charlene Richards)
David M. Ronne .... sound mixer (as David Ronne)
Kay Rose .... supervising sound editor
Victoria Rose Sampson .... sound editor
John B. Schuyler .... boom operator (as John Schuyler)
Norman B. Schwartz .... supervising adr editor (as Norman Schwartz)
Larry Singer .... adr editor
Elliot Tyson .... sound re-recording mixer
Jerry Wills .... stunt coordinator
Hubie Kerns Jr. .... stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Richmond L. Aguilar .... gaffer (as Rick Aguilar)
Paul Caven .... electrical best boy (as Paul J. Caven)
Chuck Fey .... second unit assistant camera
Daniel C. Gold .... assistant camera (as Dan Gold)
O.T. Henderson .... dolly grip
Gemma La Mana .... still photographer (as Gemma La Manna Wills)
Leonard Lookabaugh .... key grip (as Len Lookabaugh)
László Pal .... camera operator: second unit
László Pal .... second unit camera
George Ressler .... grip best boy (as George Resler)
Robert M. Stevens .... camera operator (as Robert Stevens)
Joseph E. Thibo .... assistant camera
Casting Department
Elisabeth Leustig .... extras casting
Jack Leustig .... extras casting
Pat Orseth .... casting: Seattle location
Linda Phillips-Palo .... extras casting assistant (as Linda Palo)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Nancy Martinelli .... women's costumer
Patrick R. Norris .... costumer (as Patrick Norris)
Deahdra Scarano .... costumer (as Deahdra T. Scarano)
G. Tony Scarano .... men's costumer (as Tony Scarano)
Editorial Department
Donah Bassett .... negative cutter
Aubrey Head .... color timer
Kathy Virkler .... assistant film editor
Charles Woolf .... assistant film editor
Music Department
John Barry .... conductor
Kenneth Hall .... music editor
Cliff Kohlweck .... music editor (as Clif Kohlweck)
James Thatcher .... musician: french horn
Dan Wallin .... music scoring mixer
Albert Woodbury .... orchestrator
Transportation Department
Paul Casella Jr. .... transportation coordinator
Walt Freitas .... transportation captain (as Walter Freitas)
Other crew
Randy Auerbach .... assistant: Jonathan Sanger
Blanche Bisbing .... assistant production accountant
Wendy Sterne Brown .... script supervisor
Ginnie Bukowski .... assistant to director
Paulette 'Pete' Elkins .... assistant to director (as Pete Elkins)
Gigi Gray .... assistant to director
Vince Heileson .... production accountant
Stewart O. Jacobson .... script consultant
Lois Kibbee .... script consultant
Carole Noia .... research consultant
Joe O'Har .... location manager
Deborah Rosen .... unit publicist
Melba Smith .... behavioral consultant
Teresa Stokovic .... production office coordinator
Adrian J. Williams .... medical advisor
James L. Wills .... craft service
Tom Zapata .... production assistant
Lynn Hendee .... production executive (uncredited)
Sandra Seacat .... acting coach: Jessica Lange (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
140 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:18 (original rating) | Argentina:13 (re-rating) | Australia:M | Canada:14+ (Ontario) | Finland:K-16 | Peru:14 | Portugal:M/12 (DVD rating) | Sweden:15 | UK:15 | USA:R (certificate #26830) | West Germany:16 (f)

Did You Know?

The movie was originally based on William Arnold's "Shadowland", a fictionalized biography of Frances Farmer optioned in 1979, but, when the producers jettisoned Arnold's involvement, the screenwriters created Harry York, a fictional character, because they had to prove the movie was based on original material. Arnold sued, and lost, finally, long after the film had been released.See more »
Anachronisms: A shot of the outside of a New York building shows many modern window air-conditioners, although this was supposed to be the 1930s or 1940s.See more »
Mr. Bebe:Come along with me, Fanny.
Frances Farmer:Frances. You know, I'm not the cookbook.
Mr. Bebe:You see, you've got to change that name.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Hollywood Mouth (2008)See more »
Piano Sonata in A major, K.331See more »


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34 out of 47 people found the following review useful.
The horror of lobotomy and mental institutions as an American tragedy, 23 June 2005
Author: boytoyhottycmu19 from United States

Containing both the greatest score (John Barry) and the greatest performance (Jessica Lange) in motion picture history, FRANCES is a film unrivaled for creative talent. Often overlooked, whether because it is a secret dark enough that some people may like it to be buried or because it actually frightens us into blocking it out, is the central theme of the story: the tragedy of lobotomy and the corruption of mental institutions in American history.

Lobotomy was developed in the 1930s--a procedure that severs a nerve in the brain, making the patient unable to feel intense feelings, including love, and diminishing creativity. Neurosurgery, as it is also known, was given to patients who were too willful or uncooperative, usually in a hospital setting. What history books will probably not tell you, but FRANCES may (by inference) is how liberally administered lobotomies were. Anyone deemed a nonconformist or a radical, who possessed traits then associated with mental illness (one of them, according to science before the 1970s, homosexuality) could receive a lobotomy. An example then, may be a homosexual who was in love. A way to cure his or her homosexual tendencies (by diminishing his or her capacity to love) would have been lobotomy.

It is tragic and heartbreaking to imagine losing that freedom to love, but it undoubtedly happened to many people. One of those people may have been Frances Farmer. It is not known whether Farmer received a lobotomy or not, but the film is of the belief that she was lobotomized--and it presents to us an intelligent film illustrating the tragedy of that event, and time, in history.

It is key that FRANCES is, at its core, a love story--for it is this love that Frances must tragically lose. As played unforgettably by Jessica Lange, Frances is a freedom fighter who will not conform. Deeply sensitive, she sees things others do not (hospitalized, she reveals to the confused psychiatrist, "Do you really think you know more about what goes on in my mind than I do?"). The only person who loves her is Harry York (mistakenly referred to by some film reviewers as a plot device, he is essential to the story). She tells him, sadly, in one moving scene, "Sometimes I wonder if anyone really loves anybody" (and we wonder along with her).

Also key to FRANCES is the use of emotion over reason, for after all this is a film about losing one's freedom to FEEL--and all that one may feel, including love, through lobotomy. When at every moment we experience Frances's wistful longing, and experience it through her tortured eyes and John Barry's strings, the startling images and music have the power to haunt our dreams. And when Frances loses her ability to feel, at the end of the film, and meets Harry York one last time--we know the tragedy of losing the ability to feel and love another person, for Frances's eyes are then completely, horrifyingly blank and empty, like those of a sleepwalker. And Harry York sees it, too, which is the sad end of the film. We are told that Frances died alone, and we know how many tears Frances had inside that she would never cry again.

One reviewer complained of the film's appeal to emotions over reason--well, just think what would the opposite be? An Orwellian world of people who never loved or felt? Others complain that the film is not true to Frances Farmer's life--but that is little to complain about, considering how true the film is to a time in American history when one could lose their freedom to be who they were, and love who they wanted. That is the big picture, and if you can't see it then you are not intelligent enough for this great, great film that promotes all of the human virtues--and how sometimes, by those who possess no virtues, they can be taken away.

*UPDATE: The character of Harry York is NOT a plot device or a fictional character, as some have alleged. He is based on a real person who knew Frances. I learned this by watching the film with the director's commentary on.

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The Making of 'Frances' - article york74
Paramount Perfection?? Right! RickDVD
Frances' soundtrack re-released! york74
Was Anjelica Huston in Frances? blm566
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Is the goof a goof? Alex-135
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