Frances

This relentlessly depressing film biography boasts a moving performance by Jessica Lange as Frances Farmer, one of the most beautiful movie actresses of the late 1930s and early 1940s, shown here as the victim of a forceful mother (Kim Stanley) and a tyrannical studio system. Farmer's determined individualism--from her youth in Washington State to her success...read more

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This relentlessly depressing film biography boasts a moving performance by Jessica Lange as Frances Farmer, one of the most beautiful movie actresses of the late 1930s and early 1940s, shown here as the victim of a forceful mother (Kim Stanley) and a tyrannical studio system. Farmer's

determined individualism--from her youth in Washington State to her success on stage--both thrusts her into the limelight and ultimately leads to her downfall. Throughout the film the fictitious Harry York (Sam Shepard) pops up offering Frances the hope of escape. Indeed, Farmer retired in 1942,

before she was 30, and spent the rest of her life in and out of hospitals until her death at 57 in 1970. Farmer's story might have been transformed into sensationalistic tripe; instead, it is sensitively directed by Graeme Clifford and produced by Mel Brooks's company with the same taste that they

brought to THE ELEPHANT MAN (scripted by Eric Bergren and Christopher DeVore, who collaborated with Elia Kazan's son, Nick, on the screenplay here). Lange received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, but lost to Meryl Streep for SOPHIE'S CHOICE. Stanley was nominated for Best Supporting Actress,

however Lange won this award for her work in TOOTSIE.

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