Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Everything You Ever Need To Know About Life...

... you can learn from:

Frances (1982)

Harry: Frances, you're crazy. 
Frances: Don't tell anybody

Hard to believe that still after all these years I have not ever, not ever, seen Frances - I love Jessica Lange, and this is how I go about showing it? (Also it looks like Sam Shepard in this movie might be a prime candidate for "Great Moments in Movie Staches" on top of everything.) Shame on me. One of these days. Anyway the original Frances Farmer was born on this day in 1913 - has anyone seen any of her movies? If I haven't seen Frances I sure as hell haven't seen any of Frances Farmer's movies, so school me, somebody.


Pierce said...

Some of her performances are available on disc. There's another movie about her, Will There Really Be a Morning? that was made for TV and starred Susan Blakely. You might look for that, too. It doesn't feature the lobotomy footage that Frances does.

joel65913 said...

Since she could generously be called a difficult woman in her relationship with the studios her output is small and some of it very skippable but there are some worth looking for.

The two that are considered her best are Come and Get It and The Toast of the Town which has the bonus of Cary Grant in the cast. There is also Exclusive as a newspaperwoman with Fred MacMurray, Badlands of Dakota where she plays Calamity Jane, Flowing Gold with John Garfield and her final film from her main Hollywood period Son of Fury with Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney and George Sanders where she's at the peak of her beauty.

There's also the ludicrous South of Pago Pago which is good for a couple of laughs.

But the one I'd recommend as the most interesting picture she made, though her role is nothing much, is Among the Living wherein Albert Dekker plays twin brothers-one a wealthy respected member of his community and the other a hopelessly insane lunatic who has been kept secretly in a room in their mansion for the last 25 years and suddenly escapes. It also features an on the rise Susan Hayward as a saucy young girl who flirts with the one brother and is menaced by the other. It's sort of a horror/psychological drama/noir pastiche and fascinating the way those low budget features can be when all the pieces fall into place.

I didn't love Frances outside of Lange, though she's riveting in it and makes it worth seeing but having read her bio "Will There Really Be a Morning?" the filmmakers reworked many of the facts. Unnecessarily in my opinion her real story is incredibly harrowing. The TV movie based on that book that Pierce mentioned with Susan Blakely and Lee Grant as her mother, a really appallingly awful woman, is closer to the truth and Blakely is good. Perhaps not Jessica Lange level great but very, very good.

Anonymous said...

WATCH FRANCES DAMMIT! You will be disappointed that you have lived this long without experiencing it.

Unknown said...

I didn't really like Jessica Lang in Frances because like most of Lang's work, I couln't ever forget that I was watching Jessica. I have the same problem with the majority of Meryl Streep's work.