Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May Flowers, Frances and Frances

May Flowers, evenings at 11

It's not a crime to look at Lange. So herewith, Frances Farmer in her prime (surrounded by... hmm, levitating flowers?) and the woman who played her in 1982's Frances, Jessica Lange. There are no flowers in this old photograph of Lange but I think you'll agree that she was in full bloom.


I've never seen any of Frances Farmer's movies (she didn't make many. Any suggestions?) so maybe that was a minor obstacle for me, but I am not a fan of the film. But I do enjoy a good Old Hollywood biopic. It's the one type of biopic that holds immediate appeal for me. So, can we please get some more of them about old Hollywood? Like... a lot more of them. Let's immortalize the immortals.

Didn't you love those lavish scenes in The Aviator when Jude Law was pretending to be Erroll Flynn and Cate Blanchett was pretending to be Katharine Hepburn and neither of them had to break a sweat to drip Old Hollywood charisma? I almost wish Scorsese had let a few other directors onto those sets to film other Old Hollywood biopics simultaneously.

But back to Frances... If the 1982 movie is to be believed Ms. Farmer was a self sabotaging volatile handful. Have you ever stopped to wonder which of today's superstar actresses are actually crazy people under their carefully constructed public personæ? On that note, you know there'll be an Angelina Jolie biopic by 2056!

My vote for a modern actress that deserves a stellar bio is Mia Farrow. My vote for an old Hollywood glamor movie (a la The Aviator) is Jean Harlow or -- I'm too predictable -- Norma Shearer... but especially if Joan Crawford figures prominently in that screenplay.


What's your dream movie star bio?
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45 comments:

Jane said...

The only Farmer film I've seen is Son Of Fury (because of Tyrone Power). It's quite an intriguing performance in what could've been a very one-dimensional character. You can watch it here:http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=C33C4A4F931002AE

Apparently her best film performance was in Come & Get It by Howard Hawks. Haven't seen it though.

Cluster Funk said...

Mia Farrow's autobiography, 'What Falls Away,' certainly provides ample material from which to fashion a juicy biopic. But my pick would be Carrie Fisher (oh wait, that already happened -- sort of).

Fernando Moss said...

A CHER biopic... and/or a FALCONETTI one...

MrW said...

Ida Lupino. One of the most fascinating women ever to stand in front of and behind the camera.

Carl said...

They already did it - Jill Clayburgh doing Carole Lombard in "Gable and Lombard".

The problem with movie stars is that most of them, when they are not actually performing, are walking the dog or buying a quart of milk at 11:30 at night. Their everyday lives tend to be mundane, with nothing to drive a story to the screen (adoptophiles like Brangelina notwithstanding).

However, if I had a choice for another one...let's see one on Sharon Stone. It would likely be many things, but boring would not be one of them.

Ron said...

I'd have to say Lillian Gish. That would be fascinating.

Wayne B. said...

For deceased actresses Gene Tierney's life story sounds like an incredible melodrama. Although I wouldn't mind seeing an exploration of Bette Davis like how "I'm Not There" did for Bob Dylan. Several different actresses could play her at different stages from before her success with "Of Human Bondage" until after "Whales of August."

For a living actress I wouldn't mind seeing a biopicture of Ruby Dee and her incredible career. Maybe they could cast Taraji P. Henson... :)

Runs Like A Gay said...

I'd love to see a movie about the making of Gone with the Wind, taking the story from the optioning of Mitchell's novel through the marathon castings, the revolving directors chair, the burning of Atlanta, the fights with the censors etc.

It's such a fascinating glimpse of what old Hollywood was about I'm surprised it hasn't already been done.

Anonymous said...

I'v never watched any of Farmer's movies, unfortunately.

I would have said an Hedy Lamarr biopic, but it's in production...then a Bella Darvi's one...but she's never been a real star, despite a melodramatic and (mis)adventuorous life...

If I had to pick one, I would say a Louise Brooks' one...such a legend!!!

mirko s.

cal roth said...

Ida Lupino, yeah! Ida Lupino is sich a great idea, that I can't believe it never happened. You know, the first woman to become a Hollywood director, and a great one! The actress of masterpieces like High Sierra and On Dangerous Ground!

What about Jodie Foster taking the role? And Scorsese, a big fan of Lupino, could be the director.

cal roth said...

I'd like to see a Nicholas Ray biopic, too. I love Wim Wenders's Nick's Movie and thought that could become a great biopic.

The material is very good:

- the guy directed Joan Crawford in her best movie, Johnny Guitar. Those fights between Crawford and McCambridge would be great.

- He directed Bogart and his wife Gloria Grahame to their best performances in In a Lonely Place, during a very serious marriage crisis. Behind the scenes was a hell.

- He directed and loved James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause!

- Alcoholic, addicted

- Troubled bisexual, explosive marriage with Gloria Grahame (who left him to marry his son!)

- Cancer

It's such a great story that I fear only a master of screenplay could write without making it too episodic. It would need those guys who penned People vs. Larry Flynt, Man on the Moon and Ed Wood. Milos Forman could direct. And whoever plays Gloria Grahame (Scarlett Johansson is perfect for the role) will win the Oscar.

Seisgrados said...

Runs like a gay:
You just read my mind! I'd love to see that film made. Any casting sugestions? I'd say Rachel Weisz as Vivien Leigh

MRRIPLEY said...

BETTE "FUCKING" DAVIS!!!

NATHANIEL R said...

wayne b when i read your comment about an I'm Not There style Bette Davis study, I had a total actressexualgasm. Many bios would benefit from odd angles like that. Or very tight focus of short time frame (like Capote)

so many great ideas here. Keep 'em coming.

Flickhead said...

No, it's no crime to look at Lange, unless you're sneaking images of yourself in between the 8x10 glossies.

Frances's best performance may be in "Come and Get It", a very uneven "classic"; its two directors approached it from radically different perspectives. But it does show Walter Brennan dry humping Edward Arnold.

Jim T said...

Barbra Streizand portrayed by Jim Carrey. I'd love to watch him sing "A piece of sky"!

judy said...

I've seen Come and Get It and I don't remember the dry humping (actually I don't remember a good deal of it, except that Farmer had an awful singing voice but dear god was she a beautiful woman and yes, Jessica Lange looks like her twin daughter. The resemblance is uncanny.

There's apparently some controversy over the accuracy of the biopic, but it's ever been thus.

Walks like a gay - I seem to recall watching a made-for-TV movie about the making of Gone with the Wind back in the 1980's.

Cal- Ida Lupino was NOT the first female director in Hollywood. Several women sat in the directors chair prior to Lupino (you've heard of Alice Guy Blache and Loise Weber, right?) but were pushed out in the 1920's when the US industry finally settled in California, sound descended and the industry became a "boy's club" - except for the very butch Dorothy Azner, who preceded Lupino by several years (and directed Katherine Hepburn in "Christopher Strong" in which Hepburn played an aviator.)

adelutza said...

I recently finished reading a biography of Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks and I think it'd make the best biopic ever . It's a cliché but she really "made" Hollywood.

Seisgrados said...

You are right Judy! I forgot that movie was already made: Moviola, The Scarlett O'Hara War, although it only dealt with the casting process. Anyhow it was very entertaining.

Jordan Wellin said...

I'm kind of looking forward to Anne Hathaway as Judy Garland, actually.

Flickhead said...

Judy, the dry hump in question is when the two men meet at a railway station. Brennan runs across the frame, then jumps to lock his arms around Arnold's neck and his legs around his waist. At which point they rock to and fro. Hawks's dubious "camaraderie" thing, you know.

NATHANIEL R said...

@Cal... i love your idea. that is a lot of juice for one movie

@Adelutza... what's this book called. I love Mary Pickford (though i haven't seen her much maligned Oscar winning performance)

@Jordan... me too now that I've gotten used to the idea. It was a bit touch and go for me. On account of loving Judy G so much and there being so many films about her already.

@Judy -- wasn't Azner the first female director ever admitted to AMPAS's director's branch as well? I know it took them FOREVER to start adding more women because supposedly Claudia Weill in the late 70s/early 80s was only the 2nd or 3rd woman so honored.

@Fernando -- someone will probably play Cher and win the Oscar. It'll be a double Oscar meta thing just like Blanchett as Hepburn.

adelutza said...

Nathaniel, the book is called Pickford : the woman who made Hollywood by Eileen Whitfield. I found it at my local library.

Murtada said...

Montgomery Clift, what a movie that would be! The career, the accident, the substance abuse, the gay affairs, the straight affairs.

Somebody start working on that now. Please!

jimmy said...

Miss Judy Holiday....

pony said...

Josephine Baker (song/dance, european decadence, race issues, multiple adoptions), Linda Lovelace (porno chic, the 1970s, abuse, activism), Cookie Mueller (underground film, drugs -she was Fassbinder's coke dealer-, AIDS), Liz Renay (burlesque, organized crime, film, the first mother/daughter striptease act ever), and Elizabeth Taylor (duh). Oh, and the Leni Riefenstahl picture with Jodie Foster.

NATHANIEL R said...

pony -- good choices. there are so many untold stories

Chris Na Taraja said...

I'd like to see the Cole Porter story and the real truth be told. Maybe I'm wrong, but I have a feeling he and his wife were more friends than lovers.

I also read Anne Heche's book CALL ME CRAZY. It's her memoirs, growing up with a sexually abusive minister father, life in show biz, and about her break down. it's powerful and beautifully written and would make a decent film.

Mike said...

I would be interested in an Anjelica Huston biopic. I think she's a fantastic actress, and has lived a very interesting life.

Derreck said...

Elizabeth Taylor.

Her glamourous diamond studded life is just pulsating for a bio. Movies, awards, affairs, husbands, alcoholism, GLADIATOR!!!!, Michael Jackson, and more!

Plus, i always thought it would be a good role for Stockard Channing. She can play Liz in her older years.

magicub said...

a vivien leight biopic, or kirsten dunst as lee remick

Tory said...

I almost peed when you asked this question! Lord Knows I already have it cast. I have to many to name one so here is the star and actress who should portray her:

Liza Minelli played by Toni Collette

Bette Davis played by Susan Surrandon

Cicely Tyson played by Kerry Washington

Lena Horne played by Thandie Newton

Whitney Houston played by Debra Wilson
(though she plays her on MAD TV geniously, I think playing her dramatically would be a fun thing to watch. I know Deb has it in her, every comedian does. They are usually the best dramatic players on screen)

Grace Kelly played by Gwyenth Paltrow


Audrey Hepburn played by Calista Flockhart (I don't care what people think, Calista is a fantastic dramatic actress, and she was made up to look like Hepburn, and it was uncanny!)

Lauren Bacall played by Cate Blanchett

(and for the record I feel they should choose an unknown to play Sinatra and I want a newbee)

That's all!

Tory Smith

Alex said...

From the moment I read that Bette Davis wrote Meryl Streep a letter telling her she would be her successor as the greatest actress of all time while Katharine Hepburn hated her acting and called it mechanic. I think that'd be a great Hollywood catfight film, even if they had to make everyone up. Now I want to see a "Thelma and Louise" repairing with Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis and Geena Davis as Katharine Hepburn. I would love it if that happened. Who in young Hollywood would you guys cast as La Streep?

Someone mentioned short form biopics (a la "Capote" or "The Queen") and Mia Farrow. What I really want to see is a short form biopic on Farrow that takes place during the filming of "Husbands and Wives." We could give it a few more years out of respect, I suppose (Then again, "The Queen"...) but I think this would be really intrigueing, especially since I heard that she learned about Woody and Soon-Yi during the middle of shooting that and still had to film more scenes before wrapping. We could always make Julianne Moore go blond again...

I also second the Cher suggestions but the one I really want to see of a living actress...Liza Minnelli. Nathaniel, you KNOW you want that to happen! :)

Alex said...

Wow, I was still writing mine when Tory posted. I was definitely thinking about Toni Collette as Liza. Funny coinkidink.

Volvagia said...

Okay, I know this sounds like a ridiculous idea. But I'd love to watch a focused biopic of Christian Slater, around 1989-1995. The best way to do it would be to interject commentary on Hollwood's wastage of talent, a topic that hasn't come up, to my knowledge, in any of the big Hollwood satire movies. To play: Kieran Culkin?

pony said...

And an obvious one we haven't mentioned: Mathieu Almaric as Roman Polanski.

normadesmond said...

yes, "runs like a gay", i like that! maybe it could revolve around selznick...and his wife, & her sister & louis b.?

NATHANIEL R said...

@pony. AWESOME IDEA. Almaric as Polanski.

@everyone The Toni Collette as Liza Minelli wishful thinking craze actually originated here by me at the film experience in 2005 and spread like wildfire ;) but Hollywood didn't take the blogosphere up on it.

so sad too bad.

notanotherblog said...

Hattie McDaniel. Her life's pretty fascinating. Maybe Latifah or the black actress from Dogville/Deadwood can play her.

Digression: I'm actually thinking about a movie about backstage events in Gone with the Wind that is not like the Scarlett O'Hara War. Hattie's friendship with Clark Gable, how Vivien Leigh got a long with Gable and de Haviland. Make it happen guys, I don't care if I don't get credit for it.

cal roth said...

Ok, Judy, but Lupino is still a pioneer, and is the one that has the best reputation with critics, I think.

Volvagia said...

Nathaniel: In regards to my earlier comment, do you have any thoughts? I understand such a concept may not fly in Hollywood, and that it may not be done within the next few years or even the next couple decades, but is it a good idea?

Chris Na Taraja said...

I actually think that Annie Hathoway looks more like Liza than Judy....come to think of it, i think I would rather see tony Collete at Judy or Liza, or even Lorna

Chris Na Taraja said...

I mean Toni

NATHANIEL R said...

volvagia i do think that type of biopic could be interesting yes... but who would want one like that about them?, you know ;)

patrick said...

As far as Frances Farmer films, definitely see Come and Get It, available on DVD. She plays both mother and daughter and she is impossible to take your eyes off of. Also on DVD is Son of Fury but her role is small. South of Pago Pago and Toast of New York used to available as well. She didn't appear in many 'popular' films but she is good, sometimes great, in each of them.