Jessica is brilliant in this role. I thought she should have won the Oscar for this, and not that fluff "Tootsie". She was nominated the same year. Also has one of my other favorite actresses, Kim Stanley, playing her evil mother. sad film , but Jessica nailed it .
The idea that she was lobotomized is questioned. I guess no one knows for sure, but there's a lot of doubt cast on it. The tv movie version of her story "Will There Ever Be A Morning" didn't include anything about her being lobotomized. Frances did make tv appearances, and hosted her own afternoon movie show, after she had allegedly been lobotomized.
It is a sad movie but I like it. I agree Lange was brilliant, too bad she had the bad luck of going up against Streep in "Sophie's Choice", which is also an amazing performance.
I think a lot of it is true. Farmer was a beautiful and talented actress that the studio had no idea of what to do with. She had a horrible, adversarial relationship with her dominating, screwed up mother (and a ineffective father).
The abominable conditions of the mental institutions she was committed to (heinously being controlled by her mother's whims) where also a reality.
The main point of contention is that there does not seem to be evidence that Farmer was lobotomized. Lobotomies were being performed abundantly during that time period but research has shown Farmer wasn't given one.
Its been proven to be bullshit. Do a google of Shadowland, on which Frances is based, and you might get mad about the lies told in the film. One of the most gripping moments is when Frances is gang raped by soldiers. It never happened.
It's so brown. The whole movie is brown and fuzzy.
Mostly true. Certainly more so than "Will There Really Be a Morning?," Frances' "autobiography" which was actually written by the woman who had control of her life in the last few years (and most likely was her lesbian lover, too), and was "discovered" by her and published two years after Frances died.
This looks like a pretty accurate account of her life.
Watching "Frances" is when Jessica Lange became and remains my favorite actress. She was robbed of the Oscar that year. And even though she won for "Tootsie," it was very disappointing that she lost for "Frances."
My link at r7 backs up most of what the movie showed, just the lobotomy claim is seriously questioned. And there was no mention of her being raped by soldiers, but there is also no doubt that the mental hospital where she was committed was an unimaginable hellhole where she was subjected insulin-shock and shock treatments. They used many of her actual quotes too. The Sam Shepherd reporter love-interest character was fictional, but that was considered dramatic license and never denied.
The film on Frances Framer's life staring Jessica Lange doesn't really go in depth of her life and I was disappointed.However, Lange looked strikingly similar to Frances both beautiful.
Susan Blakely and Lee Grant in the TV movie version, "Will There Really Be a Morning?" is much, much better. This film they go into more depth how the mother exploited her daughter.
Frances Farmer going to Hollywood was a big mistake because she was very, very intellectual and extremely intelligent. she thought out of the box. She couldn't tolerate the corruption in Hollywood and how artificial that life was. Aside from that,I have heard she was bipolar way before anyone knew what it was and how to treat it.
I once watched an old episode of Frances Farmer in the 50s on This Is Your Life. She seem very quiet and she does seem like she had a lobotomy.Her face seems like very force when she smiles She said at that point in her life that she believed in God. I think before she was a Communist and an atheist.Towards the end of her life she remind very reclusive living a tranquil life by the sea.
Here is the link from You Tube, This Is Your Life part 1 Frances Farmer.
I also want to add that Frances in, This Is Your Life, seems like she as paralyzed on here face because she speaks in a stiff manor. Most likely all of the crappy treatments they used to give in the mental asylum back then may have damaged some facial nerves, so sad.
I never watched Frances with Jessica Lange because it seemed to be full of screaming. Is it just screaming? Is there a good book on her?
[quote]Susan Blakely and Lee Grant in the TV movie version, "Will There Really Be a Morning?" is much, much better. This film they go into more depth how the mother exploited her daughter.
Are you kidding me? Susan over acted and looked nothing like Farmer. The film was better and more accurate to her story.
"Frances" was to Frances Farmer what "Lady Sings the Blues" was to Billie Holliday. This very in-depth article challenges almost every urban legend about Farmer that people now take to be true because of that lousy movie.
Of particular interest to DL readers is that the Kauffman article suggests that the reason "Shadowland" author William Arnold propelled the lobotomy claim is because he is a Scientologist and we all know of their fight against psychiatry.
Quite a bit of "Frances" was fiction. I think it was the director of the film who said he didn't want to "nickel and dime the audience with facts."
The character of "Harry", played by Sam Shepard, was pure fiction. It was said he was a "composite" of several characters, but that's just bullshit. Frances Farmer never had anyone like him in her life, somebody who was always there for her, someone who always helped her get out of the mental institutions, someone who had undying love for her. If only she had her life would have been much different.
I didn't really like Lange's performance although she did look a lot like Frances. I especially hated her strange, whispery voice. The real Frances Farmer had a deep, faintly masculine voice. Lange sounds like a retarded little girl.
My favorite part of "Frances" is the very beginning where Jessica Lange recites the beautiful essay "God Dies" that a teenage Frances Farmer wrote and for which she won a national prize. Lange recites it in such a beautiful expressive voice.
I hate the addition of the Sam Shepard character. Was he even real, or was the character a composite of several? He seems to arrive on the screen like comic relief, a sort of jokey Will Rogers-type arriving at the most tense moments.
If you concede the lobotomy never happened, even though her doctor was known for performing lobotomies, and lobotomies were done on many of her fellow patients. But it does look like the lobotomy is contested enough it never happened, so we'll concede that. And it was never denied that Sam Shepard character was fictional. The love interest was added for entertainment and narrative value. Whether or not it was a good choice, I don't think it ruins the movie. And the two actors fell in love, had children, and were together for decades, which gives at least some legitimacy to that aspect of the movie.
So once the lobotomy and Sam Shepard character are conceded, then what? r15 nitpicks the book, a lot of those complaints don't apply to the movie and *are* nickle and dime. She was in Alien Corn in '34 instead of '35? She was in 15 movies, not 18? Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. Most of r15's link was too boring to bother with. There is no denying she went through hell in that mental hospital, everything else is nitpicking.
Lobotomy gets 'em home
Given the extensiveness of the isulin and shock treatments, and the fact that Farmer was indeed repeatedly raped, I agree the fact that whether or not she was actually lobotomized seems pretty much incidental--her appearance on "This is Your Life" shows that she was absolutely cowed and changed utterly from how she had been since her movie star days, and not in a good way. She had become pretty much zombiefied.
[quote]Watching "Frances" is when Jessica Lange became and remains my favorite actress. She was robbed of the Oscar that year.
I agree! I became a fan after watching Frances. That's when I realized how talented and brilliant Jessica Lange was.
[quote]I didn't really like Lange's performance although she did look a lot like Frances. I especially hated her strange, whispery voice. The real Frances Farmer had a deep, faintly masculine voice. Lange sounds like a retarded little girl.
Funny, that's something Steep would have done, as she is prone to mimicry. And she would have done a good job. But that's not always essential in portraying a person.
Kim Stanley is what makes the film compelling. So glad they hired an ACTRESS, and not some ex-TV star or something. Her grasping, controlling, desperately unhappy mother character makes me wince. I still mimic to my movie pal: "DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE TO BE NOBODY!!".
Jeffrey Kaufman is a lunatic/conspiracy theorist, NOTHING he says can be taken as the truth.
Streep would have been a TERRIBLE Frances. She has never been as dangerous an actress as Lange is. And the disconnect between Streep's looks and the truly beautiful Farmer would have been very disconcerting.
"Lunatic/conspiracy theorist" Jeffrey Kauffman here LOL (two "f"'s, BTW). :) I saw a lot of people accessing my article from this site and thought I would drop by. How wonderful to see my secret identity as a lunatic has already been mentioned. :)
My article was not meant to really deal with the film other than insofar as the film was based on the book. Therefore the supposed "nitpicks", because I sought to uncover the many, many fabrications and distortions of the book, and I clearly state up front that some of them are small. Many of them are not.
Those who question the veracity of what I've written may want to look again at the sources contained in the article, which include court records and medical records (I was in fact the first person to gain access to many of these records). The most salient piece of information in all of this isn't just the Scientology connection IMHO, but Arnold's own admission that he made stuff up (see the section on the Brooksfilms lawsuit). If I am indeed a conspiracy theorist, why would Arnold have lost the lawsuit and been so taken to task by the judge who lambasted him for marketing his book as nonfiction when it was clearly a work of fiction? If I'm a "lunatic", that means sources going back to the original court cases, institutionalization and beyond share my lunacy.
Off to put on my tin foil hat and keep those commies from infiltrating my brain. :)
The actress who is Frances' old friend from her NY days on the "This is Your Life" segment is Jane Rose, who played Henry Jones' wife (Mother Dexter's daughter in law) on PHYLLIS (she's also notable in SUMMERTIME with Hepburn).
I had a friend who knew Jane well and said Jane had a lot of interesting stories about Frances -this was about four years after the movie came out -and told her (my friend) that the autobiography "Will There Be a Morning?" was pretty much a sham. Jane died before Shadowland and Frances came out, so don't know what she would have said about them.
One of the most beautiful books I've read; not necessarily a literary masterpiece but so haunting and hopeful - a strange mixture. The movie didn't capture that. I cannot imagine she was not lobotomies. At that time, I think it would have been impossible for her release, and doubt remains whether or not she even knew.
r30 do you mean the book she wrote?
Overpraised TV movie that DLers worship because its about a crazed, bitchy diva.
I'm afraid to watch it for the reasons R32 states. Still furious over the atrocity that is "The Eyes of Laura Mars".
I love to imitate the confrontation between Lange and Stanley, too.
"You had it all!!! You are a movie star!!!"
"My god, Mama - you'd send me back wouldn't you? You'd send me back.... I'm going."
"Where do you think you're gooooing?!"
"You get out of my way old woman! Get out of my waaaaaaaaaay!!! I swear to god, you follow me this time Mama... I will fucking KIIIIILL YOOOOU!"
"Now you have really DONE IT little sister...."
"Streep has never been as dangerous an actress as Lange."
So fucking true!
I don't know about her in real life but the movie Frances is a shit stirrer. Always making a fuss over nothing.
The mother was a monster so we can see where she gets her attitude.
Just like Dina and Lindsay.
But who will play Lindsay?
No one has mentioned those great scenes between Lange, and actor Lane Smith, playing the creepy shrink, at the sanitarium. She goads him, and he smiles weirdly, taking notes on all her actions. Then she calls him out by telling him he has "tiny beads of sweat above his upper lip" that give his nervousness away. And he touches that area. You then see he will use his position to keep her in line. It's all so strange, but wonderfully done , by both actors.
Love the film - love Jessica, in it. She should of won the Oscar for this - not "Tootsie".
Jessica Lange deserved the Oscar for 'Frances."
She was outstanding. Simply the best.
Loved the post at R28. It was great for someone to show up from another website to give his POV. Fortunately, he didn't run into Prime Time.
[quote]Jessica Lange deserved the Oscar for 'Frances
And she has it. Though it's engraved with a different movie. For all intent and purposes everyone knows she won that award for "Frances"
I think Joan Rivers would have been great as the mother of Frances.
Hab en a da.
The scary part of this story were the lobotomies performed on patients for masturbation and homosexuality. Christ, that's some scary shit
She's way overrated in this. Talk about tics!! She spent an entire decade looking down and to the right in roles. Her resemblance to Farmer helped her out a lot.
She was praised because she showed she had some acting chops after the "King Kong" debacle. She had been written off as another blonde bimbo.
I admire her for fighting her way back and I think she has grown into a great actress.
But she was no great shakes as Frances.
Do you know how many times I've wanted to say that in interviews?
I remember Lange looking almost disappointed when she won supporting actress for Tootsie cuz she knew she wasn't going to win the big prize for Frances.
Do you think she hates Meryl?
Lange is very good in "Frances" although she does have a tendency toward indication,over-gesticulation and mannerism. She was awarded the supporting role Oscar as a consolation prize for not winning Best Actress.
Kim Stanley,however,is a TITAN and should have walked away with supporting Oscar.
The film itself is pretty pedestrian but contains two fantastic performances. Like Monster.
she overacted the most in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Streetcar.
I saw her on stage in Streetcar and she barely registered. She came off much better in the tv version and Diane Lane was much more convincing as her sister as opposed to buth redneck Amy Madigan who played Stella on stage.
With Alec Baldwin chewing the scenery and lange barely there it was a very uneven evening at the theatah.
It's not a great film, but Lange was superb in it.
Streep give us studies of characters, Lange lives them.
[quote] She has never been as dangerous an actress as Lange is.
That about sums it up.
The biggest lie? That Frances Farmer is dead. They never found her corpse.
"The biggest lie? That Frances Farmer is dead. They never found her corpse."
Well, that's a new one. Please give us more details about why you believe poor Frances is still alive.
Frances is unwatchable today. Campy and horrible.
Jessica is only dangerous with a liquor bottle.
"Frances is unwatchable today. Campy and horrible."
Don't agree. It's a flawed film but it's very watchable.
"No one has mentioned those great scenes between Lange, and actor Lane Smith, playing the creepy shrink, at the sanitarium. She goads him, and he smiles weirdly, taking notes on all her actions"
Lane Smith was a really underrated actor. RIP.
"Frances" is absolutely not campy. I agree with R56, it has its flaws but it's still watchable. Lange and Stanley are magnificent.
A strange producion, with Clifford's only real credit theatrical release. Otherwise, it's all Barnaby Jones and even worse--is that possible?--tv shows. Which typically means, the star(s) directed it with him as the patsry (as in Don Zimmerman's patsy director credit for Sly, who didn't want the blame for a turkey). She's therefore without a director, and this hammy performance is her and Sam's. Just because you chew every inch of the scenery means you're giving a good performance. Though it does help at awards time--really deplorable overacting, esp female category, have won in recent years.
I watched "Frances" tonight for the first time in 30+ years, and my opinion is very similar to that of R50's:
"It's not a great film, but Lange was superb in it.
Streep give us studies of characters, Lange lives them."
Now it's only fair to revisit "Sophie's Choice," which I also haven't seen in decades.
I think I wrote that, R59.
I watched "Sophie's Choice" a few years ago and it seemed extremely dated to me in terms of its form, almost like a filmed play.
"One of the most beautiful books I've read; not necessarily a literary masterpiece but so haunting and hopeful - a strange mixture."
Are you talking about "Will There Really Be A Morning?" the supposed autobiography of Frances Farmer? That book was a crock. It was put together by a friend of hers named Jean Radcliffe. Here's some info about it:
Three books chronicle the life of Frances Farmer, each distinctly different from the others. All three contain either half-truths, speculation, misleading information or a combination thereof.
“Will There Really be a Morning” – the title taken from Frances’ favorite poem by Emily Dickinson – was published by Putnam in 1972, two years after her death. Although the book is called an autobiography, the consensus among insiders is that it was written entirely by Jean Ratcliffe. Miss Ratcliffe says she wrote only the last chapter, describing how Frances died of a hemorrhage. But a friend of Frances’ says emphatically, “Frances didn’t write a word of it!”
Speaking through her attorney, Miss Ratcliffe declined to be interviewed by The Star.
William Arnold, author of another Farmer book, “Shadowland,” says in his book that “Immediately after Frances’ death, Lois Kibbee withdrew from the book project and Jean Ratcliffe picked it up … she glorified the character of Jean Ratcliffe excessively in the last few chapters, and finally – as a curious closing touch – dedicated the book to herself.”
While her Indianapolis years are covered extensively in “Will There Really be a Morning,” other aspects of Frances’ life are altered in the book and only vague references are made to persons who figured heavily in her life, including her three husbands. Parts of the book are lurid, obviously written with an eventual movie in mind. In 1974, Miss Ratcliffe announced she was writing the screenplay for an all woman production to be filmed in Indianapolis and star British actress Glenda Jackson. The project was dropped, however, when she couldn’t obtain financial backing.
A friend of Miss Ratcliffe’s, Moselle Schaffer of Zionsville, explained that in all fairness to the writer, she was working with a demanding editor in Putnam’s John Dodds.
“I read Lois Kibbee’s book (on Frances) and it was absolutely blah, so the publisher wouldn’t accept it,” Mrs. Schaffer recalled. “Fortunately, he was kind enough to hold that decision until after Frances died. Jean told Dodds she would write the book, and he said, ‘I offer you no encouragement whatsoever.’
“There was one part that was left out … when Frances first was released from the asylum, how she wandered into a bar… Dodds cut that part saying he thought it established Frances as a prostitute. “I thought Jean did a spectacular job in terms of tackling a hostile publisher. When they publish an autobiography they rely heavily on the person who wrote the book to promote it on television shows and such; and with that possibility gone it was more of a challenge for Jean to meet the publisher’s requirements.”
Another friend, Betty Whitaker of Indianapolis, concurred. “When Frances knew she was dying, she told Jean, ‘Don’t let this stop the book project.’ That was her final wish,” said Mrs. Whitaker.
At that time, of course, Frances thought the Kibbee book had been accepted. She never knew Miss Ratcliffe would be involved except as a consultant.
So in the Meryl/Jessica world, is Meryl the Beatles and Jessica the Stones?
Not a Streep fan, but Lange is more like the Archies than the Stones.
I saw Frances a few months ago and thought it was awful with its terrible overwrought writing. Jessica Lange and her cute little girl voice made it worse and Sam Shepherd was weird in a part that made no sense.