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Frances

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Cast
Jessica Lange, Kim Stanley, Sam Shepard, Bart Burns
Released
1994
Frances Farmer | Walter Jackson Freeman | reserpine
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Blog entry

Her father Ernest tells actress Frances the only time he hit her mother Lillian led to "tears, hysteria..." (0:28)

Public relations consultant Bob tells Frances, giving her pills, "Take one of these... helps keep the fat off... make you feel nice and peppy." (0:51)

Newspaper headline: "Frances Farmer Arrested on Drunk Driving Charge." (0:57)

Director Max tells Frances, "This is insane." (1:01)

Pill bottle with pills spilled on table top. (1:03)

Psychiatrist Symington tells Frances, "among creative people under great stress erratic behavior..."
"It's just that the anxieties..."
Frances asks whether he can really develop "greater insight into my personality than I do?"
"about my... anxieties." (1:13)

Nurses tell Frances the injection consists of "vitamins..." (1:16)

A nurse tells Frances as she awakens, "They gave you insulin. It throws your body into shock." The nurse places a bite block in Frances' mouth and she convulses. (1:16)

Frances examines a vial of red liquid before a session with Symington. He tells her, "You're still filled with anxiety."
"Mental illness, its such an elusive thing..." (1:19)

Her friend Harry helps Frances elope from the convalescent center. (1:26)

Dr. Doyle tells Frances' mother Lillian, "And the only course left open to you is to commit your daughter for a period of time unto a mental institution." (1:43)

Aids escort Frances, bound in a camisole, past patients into a locked room. We see an electroconvulsive therapy device. Doctors place a bite block in Frances' mouth and spread electrolyte paste on her temples. Another doctor places electrode calipers on her head. A doctor says she will have a "Standard series to start."
Another doctor: "Fifteen."
Another shot of the ECT device reveals the manufacturer: Lekter Laboratories. (1:44)

An Asian physician and Harry find Frances in a women's ward. The physician, drawing up a syringe, says, "Reserpine. I guarantee you this'll clear her head. She'll wake up feeling calm." We see track marks on her arm, a woman in a camisole. "This drug takes pretty quick." (1:47)

Frances pleads for her discharge. (1:49)

Patients preparing for hydrotherapy; Frances in a camisole; alternating with scenes of the ward: Dr. Doyle declares, "I think this case demonstrates just how successfully antisocial behavior can be modified... significant victory for the mental hygiene program..." (1:50)

Frances tells her parents, "Frankly, I don't understand how with the two of you I turned out as sane as I am." (2:01)

Soldiers enter a women's ward, where they rape defenseless patients. (2:04)

A physician in a sleeveless scrub shirt (probably Walter Freeman) lectures an audience prepared to witness Frances undergo the procedure: "One merely inserts the leucotome beneath the eyelid, breaking through the bone, pressing it up into the prefrontal lobe, manipulating it so as to sever the nervous connections of the thalamo-frontal radiation to the body of the brain."
"... I will perform transorbital lobotomy on ten patients within an hour. These patients will be given mild doses of electroshock to sedate them... We know that lobotomy works..." (2:06)

A doctor places ECT calipers on Frances' head then administers a shock. The surgeon prepares to begin the procedure: "... prefrontal technique... In plain language my ice pick technique severs the nerves that deliver emotional energy to ideas... loss of affect... emotional flattening..." He places the leucotome and hammers it through bone: "lobotomy gets'm home." (2:07)

This Is Your Life master of ceremonies Ralph Edwards tells Frances, "Other stories accuse you of being an alcoholic."
Frances: "Never an alcoholic"
Ralph: "Did you ever take dope?" (2:09)