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Frances Details

FULL SYNOPSIS

As played by Jessica Lange, Frances Farmer is a rebel from the word go, winning a high school essay award by writing a piece in defense of Communism. Determining to become an actress, Frances is equally determined not to play the Hollywood game: she refuses to acquiesce to idiotic publicity stunts, and insists upon appearing on screen sans makeup. Her defiance attracts the attention of Broadway playwright Clifford Odets, who convinces Frances that her future rests with the Group Theatre. But once she leaves Hollywood for New York, Frances learns to her chagrin that the Group intends to exploit her movie fame in order to draw in customers. Her desperate attempts to restart her movie career, combined with her increasing dependence on alcohol and the pressures brought to bear by her monster mother (Kim Stanley), result in a complete mental breakdown. Even while institutionalized, Frances is abused by the powers-that-be; she is forced to undergo an injurious brain operation, is treated like a mad animal, and periodically raped by the inmates. Frances is released in the custody of her mother, who persists in browbeating her tortured daughter until Frances discovers the legal means to break away. The real-life Frances spent her last years as host of a local Indianapolis TV program, dying in 1970 at age 57; the film comes to a climax when Frances is feted on the smarmy network program This is Your Life. Other actual personages depicted herein include Clifford Odets (played by Jeffrey DeMunn), Harold Clurman (Jordan Charney) and Ralph Edwards (Donald Craig). Frances' first husband Leif Erickson is fictionalized as "Jeffrey York", and played by Lange's real-life inamorata Sam Shepard. And if you listen closely, you'll hear the voice of Kevin Costner, whose minor role was whittled down to one line when he, like Frances Farmer, had the temerity to argue with the director. The unhappy life of actress Frances Farmer was also covered in Farmer's autobiography, Will There Ever Be a Morning? While the film rights for that book were sold to a TV-movie concern, the producers of the theatrical feature Frances were able to ship their production out to the public first. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Awards

Awarded by
Nominee
Category
Year
Status
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Jessica Lange Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama 1982 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Jessica Lange Best Actress 1982 Nominee

Cast

Jessica Lange
as Frances Farmer
Sam Shepard
as Harry York
Bart Burns
as Ernest Farmer
Jeffrey DeMunn
as Clifford Odets
Jordan Charney
as Harold Clurman
Allan Rich
as Bebe
Christopher Pennock
as Dick Steele
Sarah Cunningham
as Alma Styles
J.J. Chaback
as Lady in Hotel
Larry Pines
as Man on Phone
Jonathan Banks
as Hitchhiker
Andrew Winner
as Firechief
Biff Yeager
as Cop
Keone Young
as Doctor
Anne Haney
as Hairdresser
Gerald O'Loughlin
as Doctor
Woodrow Parfrey
as Dr. Parfrey
Jack Manning
as Photographer
Sandra Seacat
as Drama Teacher
Vern Taylor
as Executive
Donald Craig
as Ralph Edwards
Lee de Broux
as Director
Richard L. Hawkins
as Bum
Alexander Zale
as Man in Screening Room
Darrell Larson
as Spy
Rod Colbin
as Judge
Rod Pilloud
as Martoni
Lane Smith
as Dr. Symington
John Randolph
as Judge
Kevin Costner
Anjelica Huston
James Karen
as Judge
Nancy Foy
as Autograph Girl
Bonnie Bartlett
as Stylist
Jack Riley
as Barnes

Crew

Graeme Clifford
Director
Jonathan Sanger
Producer
Jana Sue Memel
Producer
Charles B. Mulvehill
Producer
Mel Brooks
Producer
Nicholas Kazan
Screenwriter
Eric Bergren
Screenwriter
Laszlo Kovacs
Cinematographer
Ivan Strasburg
Cinematographer
John Barry
Composer (Music Score)
John Wright
Editor
Richard Sylbert
Production Designer
Charles B. Mulvehill
Art Director
Ida Random
Art Director
Charles B. Mulvehill
Associate Producer
Emad Helmey
Set Designer
David Ronne
Sound/Sound Designer
Ed Milkovich
First Assistant Director
William P. Scott
First Assistant Director
Elisabeth Leustig
Casting
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