Based on the fast and frantic life of actress Frances Farmer tracing her life from her childhood in Seattle, through her college years, her flirtation with radical politics, her success in films and the theater, her doomed love affair with Clifford Odets, her physical and mental breakdown, and her ultimate emergence from an institution where she spent five years, to her death from cancer. Written by
Susan Blakely plays '30s actress, Frances Farmer brilliantly in this tragic autobiography which writer Dalene Young has adapted well. Blakely starts when Frances is in her teens and the film tracks her life (of 60+ years) from the budding actress who wins a trip to Moscow and New York and the Group Theatre by writing an essay entitled, "God Is Dead." Her goal was never movies but her mother, played by Lee Grant with great power, pushed her into a career in Hollywood. Frances put up with it but her heart was with the Group (she married Clifford Odets briefly), and her willfulness got her arrested. Then her mother had her committed in an attempt to control her. And Frances wound up in the dark ages of psychiatry in a mental institution in Washington. Her father, played by the great actor,Royal Dano, too meek to stand up to Mrs. Farmer, allowed that Frances remain in the harshest institution even after the docs were ready to let her go home. Blakely's acting won the highest praise. The scenes in the mental institution are fascinating in terms of what the world was like then. This was a three hour special for CBS (the entire prime-time).
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