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Frances Farmer: Shadowland
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Frances Farmer: Shadowland

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  121 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Frances Farmer died in 1970, after having lived a tumultuous life which saw her make national headlines in both high school (for her essay God Dies) and college (for her trip to Russia); become acclaimed by Cecil B. de Mille as the "screen's outstanding find of 1936" and by Howard Hawks as "the greatest actress I ever worked with"; join the Group Theatre, one of the most i ...more
Published 1979 by Jove (first published December 1st 1978)
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(showing 1-30 of 252)
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Devin McKinney
Arnold's book hits its stride about 2/3 through when he gets on the trail of the Seattle-based judge and psychiatrist who were responsible for legally stripping Farmer of her civil rights and committing her to Western State Hospital, where she stayed five years and sustained no doubt horrific abuse. Arnold makes a case, though not a deeply wrought one, for the committal being the revenge of Seattle's conservative elite upon Farmer, who they felt had embarrassed the city once too often with her a ...more
"Shadowland" is interesting, maybe even fascinating, and it's an easy read. Despite telling a quite sad story, Arnold has written "Shadowland" in a rather breezy style with very short chapters. For readability and interest, I'd give William Arnold's book about Frances Farmer more stars, but several details in the book have sparked controversy and charges that they're false. I don't know the truth of the matter. No one seems to. I don't think there has been anything written about Frances Farmer t ...more
An investigative reporter's 1978 biography of Frances Farmer, this fills the gap between the other two available books on her life: Will There Ever Be A Morning and Look Back In Love. More truth seems to be in this book than anywhere else.
I loved this until I found out that most of it was fictionalized. HEART-BREAKING BUMMER! I hope that the part about her favorite word being "cocksucker" and fighting with cops were true.
Matt Evans
This "biography" was the basis for the movie "Frances" in the 1980s (for which Jessica Lange won an academy award). William Arnold sued the movie's producers because he claimed that they violated the copyright on his novel (you read that right: novel). Here's where things get interesting: during the trial Arnold testified that much of the "biography" was "fictionalized" (a key part of his lawsuit, because biography can't be copyrighted). Please go the Jeffrey Kauffman's fine website, Shedding Li ...more
Jan 22, 2008 brass rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to brass by: everything but the girl
it all started with a song by everything but the girl i heard in the late 80s. then i saw the movie about her life.

i'm kind of obsessed with frances farmer. i'd give this book 5 stars but arnold's 'facts' are more conjecture than truth. of course, i only found that out in hindsight. truth is, i liberated this book from my college library (bad dix) and read it about 15 times. when i was in new york in '94 for the beat writers' conference, i went to about 4 libraries to research farmer's life. i
Jun 10, 2015 Debbie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Debbie by: My good friend Rhonda
A good friend recommended this book and I am so glad I finally got to read it. What an amazing but tragic story about her triumphs and tragedies.
Sarah Housknecht
Loved this book. Tragic story of Frances Farmer. West Seattle local...hollywood star. Placed in a metal institution against her will. So sad to read about her life.

I actually found this book very entertaining, even though it reads more like a personal account of the author writing the biography of Frances Farmer, rather than a biography itself. It's biased, filled with typos, and questionable "facts," but I still blew through it. I wish a real biography of Frances Farmer would be written. It seems like a more factual account would be just as compelling.
This was one of the first biographies I ever read, and although it was fascinating, it turns out that it includes many fabrications about the real Frances Farmer. Apparently the movie starring Jessica Lange is also based on some of these fictional accounts of her life.
Michelle (Champ)
An older book about a good actress that is not well known. This book will tell you why Francis disappeared st the height of her career. For the classic movie lover.
Julie Bell
I was very young when I read this and it is very disturbing. Apparently it's mostly fictionalized, but the visuals that this gave me as a child were horrific.
Really excited to read this but it's so poorly and unreliably written. The Wikipedia entry is better.
Gripping, read it in a single night.
Best biography on Frances Farmer!
Feb 07, 2009 Michael added it
Recommends it for: Frances Farmer Fans
I learned a bit about Frances Farmer and psychiatry in the late thirties and early forties, although I believe this book was fictionalized, cases like this *DID* happen , just not to Miss Farmer. Although I'm sure Frances wasn't treated well in the facility she was held in, I have no doubt that there was abuse of some sort. It's a fact that she went through hydrotherapy, insulin shock and electroshock but the infamous lobotomy is believed by many to be false but it really wouldn't surprise me i ...more
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