Frances (1982) Film Review

The real Frances Farmer
The real Frances Farmer

Based on the life of Frances Farmer, an actress most famous in the 1930-40’s. A smart girl, with leftist leanings who becomes an actress, first on stage, then in Hollywood is catapulted into fame then blacklisted and ultimately put into a mental hospital. The film also delves into her love life, and her family life. Interestingly the film does not provide too many easy answers to the hard questions that this lady’s life poses, rather it lets you make up your own mind.

The film suffers from the same problems that all biopics do, where to start and where to end? The film drags in places, whereas in others paces moves lighting fast, but such, as they say, is life. So as biopics go, this is undoubtedly one of the best.

Her life was in some ways typical of the Entertainment Industry. Perhaps the ghosts of Frances Farmer and Gypsy Lee Rose are busy comparing notes about their mothers. Maybe Lindsey Lohan could take some comfort from this story.

It is interesting to make comparisons to today’s stars, but sadly none of them could hold a candle to Ms. Farmer’s talent. Perhaps this is why the infamous book of scandal “Hollywood Babylon” labeled her as the Queen of the Damned. However she was not damned forever, as she made a comeback in later years as the host of a daytime talk show.

Jessica Lange, who stars as Frances was nominated for an Oscar for her role in this, and it is easy to see why, it is a riveting performance. She would go on later to be awarded an Oscar for her role in “Blue Sky” where she plays a similar character, although it is a vastly different story (it is about atomic tests in the 1950’s).

Kudos should also go to the art department who have meticulously recreated many of the famous and sometimes scandalous photos of Frances.

Frances (1982) Trailer


8 thoughts on “Frances (1982) Film Review

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  1. Frances Farmer was indeed a troubled soul, and Jessica Lange player her probably too good…most of her film roles were odd

  2. PERSONAL QUOTE FROM JESSICA REGARDING MAKING FRANCES ….. All through life I’ve harbored anger rather than expressed it at the moment. Once I started on ‘Frances’ I discovered it was literally a bottomless well. It devastated me to maintain that for eighteen weeks, to be immersed in this state of rage for twelve to eighteen hours a day. It spilled all over, into other areas of my life. I was really hell to be around.

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