Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
Frances Farmer rose up from a small town existence to become one of Hollywood’s brightest stars in the 1930s. Dissatisfied with the token roles handed out to women at the time, she fought hard to be taken seriously as an actress, pursuing that goal until it drove her past the brink of sanity and into a mental asylum. There she was analyzed and abused for years before a lobotomy was performed on her in this compelling, probing look at Farmer’s life based on her own writings. A lot of it actually plays like trashy exploitation except for the mesmerizing performance by Jessica Lange, in the role that established her as a serious actress, and Kim Stanley as her ambitious mother, who give the film a great deal more respectability than it deserves (evidence for most of the film’s claims has gone soft in the years since this film’s release).
Cinematography by Laszlo Kovacs
Produced by Jonathan Sanger
Music by John Barry
Production Design by Richard Sylbert
Costume Design by Patricia Norris
Film Editing by John Wright