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Susan Saint James,
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 <email@example.com>
Among the framed portraits of actresses under contract to Paramount Pictures hanging on Mr. Bebe's office walls is one of Joan Crawford. But Crawford was an MGM contract player at the time portrayed in the scene and never worked for Paramount. See more »
This film parallels the Biography Channel's version of Frances Farmer's life and career. Neither gave a definitive answer as to the cause of this actress' problems.
Was it inability to cope with society due to her own high standards of artistic integrity? Or was it a mental flaw that grew more intense as she got older? It was James Jones (in "From Here to Eternity") that wrote: "Maybe in the days of the pioneer, you could go your own way. Pvt. Pruitt, but today you gotta play ball." That obviously implied demonstrating things like compromise, humility, condescension, flexibility, and sundry social graces.
It also implied that one can "be right" and still be very lonely.
Frances apparently chose the wrong profession, if she expected to "be right" so often. She'd have been better off on a farm or ranch, engaged in solo activities rather than the group endeavor of acting.
As it was, she seemed never to have learned to work professionally with colleagues. From her standpoint, she was indeed "right." She constantly exposed the hypocrisy, insincerity and frailty in people and "the system." Yet the price she paid was a loss of what mattered to her: a career that was nourishing and satisfying.
In '82 Jessica Lange followed up her fine Oscar-winning performance as Julie Nichols in "Tootsie" with this incredible portrayal of Farmer in "Frances." The legendary Kim Stanley was her mother and Sam Shepard rendered a perceptive performance as Farmer's close friend.
Not an easy film to sit through, the quality of acting by this trio is exemplary. As much up to date today as when first filmed. Riveting performances by all. --harry-76
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