Payday Loans
Frances Farmer (1913-1970)

  1. June Lang, Nancy Steele Is Missing, 1936.       Exploiting the Lindbergh baby kidnapping in a convoluted manner, the drama had Nancy meeting her kidnapper 20 years later and believing him to be her father. (I did say convoluted!). Among the potential Nancies were: Farmer, Frances Dee, Jean Parker and Jane Wyatt.

  2. Frances Dee, Wells Fargo, 1937.     One Frances for another as Miss Dee - actually, Mrs Joel McCrea - played her husband’s wife in the kind of sprawling saga that had Paramount putting the Western back on the A List. Miss Farmer’s husband would have been Fred MacMurray.

  3. Frances Dee, Souls At Sea, 1937.     Tough director Henry Hathaway swopped one Frances for another.

  4. Anne Shirley, Stella Dallas, 1937
    For  Babara Stanwyck’s daughter? No, no, no! Producer Samuel Goldwyn wanted nothing more to do with Frances after their rows    during    Come And Get It, 1936.  So he refused his director King Vidor’s request for her as Stella/Barbara Stanwyck’s daughter, Laurel. Silly Sam! Howard Hawks (sacked from that film) adored her. “One of the cleanest, simplest, hardest-working persons I ever knew... always looked as though she was shining.   She had no phoniness…  just fabulous.  More talent than anyone I ever worked with.  She was a blonde, a natural, but she just used a dark wig, that's all she put on, no change in make-up. Just her face... her whole attitude changed, her whole method of talking. And then she fell in love with a guy who ran away from her.She didn’t take a drink before that, then she started to drink.She just went to pieces.”

  5. Louise Campbell, Men With Wings, 1937.     In the aerial mix (with Carole Lombard) for Peggy Ranson, caught between two fly boy buddies: WW1 ace Fred MacMurray and airplane designer Ray Milland - in another aviation thriller from one of the titular kind - the 1928 Wings director and WW1 daredevil, Wild Bill Wellman.

  6. Louise Platt, Spawn of the North, 1937.   When Farmer was given Di Turlon, Jim Kimmerlee was Argentinian Georges Rigaud, then Fred MacMurray and - after she fled - Henry Fonda.
  7. Susan Hayward, Beau Geste, 1938.      Frances preferred Broadway and the Golden Boy hit by her lover, playwright Clifford Odets. Farmer and Hayward co-starred in 1941's Among The Living. 

  8. Jean Parker, Torpedo Boat, 1941.      Richard Arlen (or Paramount) couldn’t get enough of Parker… After she took over from Carol Blake in Arlen’s Power Dive, 1940, and from Farmer here, Parker joined his next ’41 programmer, Wrecking Crew… and two more in ’43. Surprised she had the time. She had four husbands including another B-movie stiff, Robert Lowery.
  9. Veronica Lake, Sullivan’s Travels, 1941 Jerry Seinfeld’s favourite film because of its content - the importance of fun and laughter. One story says after their Lady Eve, 1940, Barbara Stanwyck was Preston Sturges’ choice for The Girl.  Rubbish! He always had Ronni Lake in mind, since loving her in I Wanted Wings, 1940. Paramount suits preferred Lucille Ball, Frances Farmer, Ruby Keeler, Ida Lupino in the classic inspired by John Garfield’s hobo days. Sturgess remained resolute… Even though she never gelled with Joel McCrea (he refused to join her in I Married A Witch)and that her (ssh!) pregnancy went from six to eight months. She had her daughter, Elaine Detlie, exactly one month after shooting wrapped. McCrea relented five years later and they made the 1946 Western, Ramrod- helmed by her then husband, the eye-patched Hungarian director André De Toth.
  10.  Ingrid Bergman, For Whom The Bell Tolls, 1942.    The bell was tolling already - for Frances.  She did, though, come back in live TV plays  and The Party Crashers film in 1958…   Barbara Britton, Betty Field, Paulette Goddard, Susan Hayward and  Barbara Stanwyck were also seen for Gary Cooper’s gal. Plus the French Annabella, Mexico’s Esther Fernández, true Brit  Vivien Leigh and Germany’s  Luise Rainer and Vera Zorina.  However, Ernest Hemingway insisted on Bergman (and Cooper) because  he’d had them in mind when writing the book. In case Ingrid  changed her mind, producer-director Sam Wood had the Austro-Hungarian Lenora Aubert waiting in the wings.
  11. Patricia Morison, Hitler’s Madman, 1942.     Change of Jarmila in the US debut of director Douglas Sierck - Hollywoodised as Sirk.  The account of the assassination of Nazi SS commander Reinhard Heydrich was more recently suggested as Spielberg’s style-model for Schindler’s List.
  12.  Rosa Harvan, Five Were Chosen, 1943.     The Mexico location shoot   had been a perfect excuse to get Frances out of LA after her arrest for drunk driving. Then, she was deported..! Months later, she was wrongfully declared mentally incompetent and her parents had her committed to various public institutions and in one,   she was given   a lobotomy. Frances was released in 1950 and took a hotel laundry job in Seattle to help support her parents.
  13. Mary Brian, I Escaped from the Gestapo, 1943.     The end of the much troubled Frances Farmer… On the first day, she slapped one of the production’s hairdressers and was arrested for violating her drunk-driving probation. The film was a typical  Poverty Row job from Monogram, wasting as little shot footage as possible. If-you-shoot-it-use-it! Therefore, one shot remains of Farmer in a montage…. looking as puzzled as her audience. Who is that and what’s she doing there?
  14. Jane Wyman, The Yearling, 1945.       Everything else went wrong in ‘41... Director Victor Fleming refused to have the UK star Flora Robson as Spencer Tracy’s wife - and called up Ann Revere. Tracy’s son was changed and then Tracy tested with Farmer and Ruth Hussey as his wife. The project was postponed and totally re-cast four years later.
  15. Brenda Joyce, The Enchanted Forest, 1945.        Farmer had not made a film for three years - and did not make another (due to family and health issues) for another dozen. Sad. Very sad. Joyce was Jane opposite two Tarzans, Johnny Weismuller and Lex Barker.


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