Frances Farmer

The Life and Films of a Troubled Star

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About the Book

Previous biographies of American actress Frances Farmer (1913–1970) have downplayed her professional achievements to emphasize her turbulent personal life, including several police arrests and repeated confinements in a state mental hospital. By focusing upon her acting career, this book endeavors to restore her position as a significant Hollywood player of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. An analysis of her film, radio and television work is offered, as well as assessments of the three Frances Farmer biopics and the documentaries in which she is featured. Each of her 16 films receives a chapter-length discussion. A very lengthy biographical chapter is included.

About the Author(s)

Peter Shelley is a playwright, screenwriter and author of several books on film. He lives in Umina Beach, Australia.

Bibliographic Details

Peter Shelley
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 260
Bibliographic Info: 84 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4745-9
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5777-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Preface      1

Introduction and Biography      5

THE FILMS

Too Many Parents (1936)      69

Border Flight (1936)      74

Rhythm on the Range (1936)      80

Come and Get It (1936)      88

Exclusive (1937)      99

The Toast of New York (1937)      106

Ebb Tide (1937)      113

Ride a Crooked Mile (1938)      121

South of Pago Pago (1940)      127

Flowing Gold (1940)      135

World Premiere (1941)      143

Badlands of Dakota (1941)      151

Among the Living (1941)      158

Son of Fury (1942)      165

No Escape (1943)      174

The Party Crashers (1958)      180

TELEVISION

Toast of the Town/The Ed Sullivan Show ( June 1957)      191

Toast of the Town/The Ed Sullivan Show (October 1957)      193

Playhouse 90—“Reunion” (1958)      194

Matinee Theatre—“Something Stolen, Something Blue” (1958)      194

This Is Your Life (1958)      195

Studio One—“Tongues of Angels” (1958)      200

Frances Farmer Presents (1958–1964, including Indianapolis special)      201

BIOPICS AND DOCUMENTARIES

Frances (1982)      207

Will There Really Be a Morning? (1983)      220

Committed (1984)      227

Broadway’s Dreamers: The Legacy of the Group Theatre (1988)      232

Hollywood Scandals and Tragedies (1988)      235

Hollywood Undressed (1991)      238

E! Mysteries and Scandals (1998)      240

A&E Biography—“Paradise Lost” (2000)      242

Bibliography      247

Index      251

Book Reviews & Awards

“beautiful and talented, actress Frances Farmer is best remembered for the horrific backstory of alcoholism, mental illness, and a lengthy stay in a sanitarium, marked by lurid tales of the filthy conditions and rumors of a lobotomy. The book’s best-executed section considers Farmer’s image in the popular media, notably the 1982 Jessica Lange film, Frances and Farmer’s famous 1958 appearance on the TV show, This Is Your Life”—Library Journal; “the work is even-handed, examining Farmer’s troubled life in a sensitive fashion”—Reference & Research Book News; “Shelley is to be congratulated on his research on Farmer’s career and his determination to finally get the book published. Where this volume is at its most interesting is the biographical section…a volume that the casual and fanatical Frances Farmer fan will want to own”—Scarlet.