Rare to the memory is a film like Frances which runs 140 minutes and its star is on the screen 85% of the time in one intense scene after another. It's quite an accomplishment for Jessica Lange and it's too bad a better film didn't come of it.

Rare to the memory is a film like Frances which runs 140 minutes and its star is on the screen 85% of the time in one intense scene after another. It’s quite an accomplishment for Jessica Lange and it’s too bad a better film didn’t come of it.

Though her troubled life made headlines around the world, Frances Farmer is still much a mystery. What is agreed is that Farmer was a rebellious young girl in Seattle who first shocked the 1930s with a high-school essay questioning God, then outraged conservatives again a few years later with a visit to Moscow. The publicity, plus her talent, led to a successful Broadway and Hollywood career, followed by some kind of a breakdown and many years in mental institutions.

Resolving the doubts that haunt Farmer’s life, the film presents her basically as a woman to be admired for standing behind her convictions regardless of the consequences.

As a directorial debut by editor Graeme Clifford, however, Frances tends to trivialize. It’s hard to shake the persistent feeling that she brought a lot of woe on herself.

1982: Nominations: Best Actress (Jessica Lange), Supp. Actress (Kim Stanley)

Frances

Production

EMI/Brooksfilms. Director Graeme Clifford; Producer Jonathan Sanger; Screenplay Eric Bergren, Christopher DeVore, Nicholas Kazan; Camera Laszlo Kovacs; Editor John Wright; Music John Barry; Art Director Richard Sylbert

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1982. Running time: 140 MIN.

With

Jessica Lange Kim Stanley Sam Shepard Bart Burns Jeffrey DeMunn Jordan Charney
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