Sunday, February 17, 2013

One Day Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge On Hollywood

Frances Farmer as a glamor girl. 
Last night I was feeling very shitty. One of those days you know, we've all been there. Instead of drowning headfirst in a tub of crappy no-real-strawberries-in-our-ice-cream strawberry ice cream, I decided to do something I think we all indulge in. Pick a movie in which the main character is in like a million times worse shape than you are. One such film is about one of my favorite actresses/hot messes Frances Farmer. The film is aptly titled Frances (1982) and stars a very young Jessica Lang who actually looks like the spitting image of Frances Farmer back in her heyday. Now she looks like someone left a plastic version of herself near the oven for too long. 
Frances in her fuck-it-all moment. Waiting in court to give a big finger to the judge.
Here's some background on Frances Farmer, the original. She was never a Hollywood player. She was a major bank draw and obsession of the studios for a while but never did she play by any of their bullshit rules. She drank, she smoked, and she never played the lady elegant. She talked to men like they were her equals; something pretty unheard of back in the 30's, and never shot the shit with anyone or kissed ass to get what she wanted. What she wanted was to be a serious actor, and in the middle of her height at the studio she made a midnight run to Broadway to be a 'serious actress' and fuck the shit out of her playwright Clifford Odettes (at that time, the darling of contraversial and relevant theater in New York). He dumped her so she was forced to come back and degrade herself for money, not as a hooker (which came later) but a different kind of prostitution; being the glamour girl to thousands of adoring horny Hollywood nuts. Eventually, she started going off her rocker, and was eventually institutionalized where she was sexually assaulted on a regular basis and then lobotomized. Her life was indeed a tragic one. Needless to say, it's one of those uplifting films where you can think to yourself 'hey I've got my problems, but I'm not that girl'. 
The late great.
The story of Frances Farmer is one of the most notorious and secretive in Hollywood because people don't want the world to know that sometimes this is what happens when you're reluctantly part of the machine. I think in a way, I love her. She took no shit, and she paid a very heavy price for it. We can all take lessons from it, and I hope one day we all will be able to. 

Below, Hollywood was patronizing enough to let Frances have her own This is Your Life moment, and she for some reason went along with it, though post-lobotomy was not exactly herself anymore. 

Below, trailer for the film based on her life, which is as accurate as I've ever seen a bio-pic be. 

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