SHADOWLAND by William Arnold


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Did Hollywood really excise the elusive Frances Farmer from ""dozens of dictionaries of film personalities""? Did a right-wing Seattle judge and a psychiatric hack commit the 1930s' Paramount second-stringer to an insane asylum because she used four-letter words and patronized left-wing causes? For a hundred pages, Arnold, a Seattle reporter smitten with Farmer's ""intoxicating screen presence"" (she died in 1970), hints at some ghastly conspiracy to make her into a nonperson. But, by her own accounting (Will There Really Be a Morning? 1972), Farmer was committed by a mother who had always hated her--the feeling was mutual--after a spell of erratic behavior. Arnold recapitulates all that, and also the horrors--repeated rape to, he charges, ""transorbital lobotomy""--of her incarceration. By book's end, he has turned the sordid story of Farmer and her batty family (her mother blamed ""the Communists"" for Frances' condition) into a diatribe against ""the world wide resurgence of psychosurgery."" All the outrage against injured innocence can't cover the stench of paranoia.

Pub Date: June 4th, 1978
Publisher: McGraw-Hill