A Fan's Notes
Julia Anne Robinson was a luminously beautiful
actress who appeared in three films in the 1971-72 era:
- A Safe Place (1971)
- The King of Marvin Gardens
- A Fan's Notes (1972)
She is so dimly remembered that IMDb has consistently
presented her filmography with multiple errors. Those
three films were originally attributed to three
different actresses: Julie Robinson (II), Julia Robinson
(II), and Julia Anne Robinson. A Safe Place is still
credited to a different and much older woman, even
though it's a Henry Jaglom film and Julia was then his
She was an interesting, complicated person whose
wholesome, glamorous appearance belied her background as
a semi-famous hippie with some serious addiction
problems. She had actually traveled with Ken Kesey on
the legendary magic bus, and apparently had developed
some serious drug issues along the way. Peter Biskind
discussed her at some length in "Easy Riders, Raging
Bulls," because she was at the center of a classic
Hollywood story. Producer/director Bob Rafelson was
obsessed with her and thought he could make her a star.
Ms. Robinson certainly had the looks for stardom, but
there was one thing that prevented her from being the
next Julie Christie in the glammed-up hippie department:
she had absolutely no acting talent. She delivered every
line with an awkward stiffness that sounded like a 5th
grader reading aloud in a remedial class.
Actually, I guess there was another thing that cut her
career short. The other major factor is that she died in
a fire, an event which is generally not conducive to
prolonging any career, possibly excepting Larry King's.
She was working in a community play in Eugene, Oregon.
One evening she declined an invitation to a cast party
and instead returned to her bed. She fell asleep with a
lit cigarette and was soon dead. She was 24.
I had previously thought that her only screen nudity was
in The King of Marvin Gardens, but that's because I had
never seen A Fan's Notes, despite the fact that the
eponymous source novel by Fred Exley is one of my ten
favorite books, and is often considered to be among the
very best "first novels" ever written. It's not just me
who missed this film. Nobody has seen it (15 votes at
IMDb), even though the lead role was played by a future
star, Jerry Orbach. It's an obscure, poorly paced
Canadian film filled with the typical self-indulgence
and pseudo-profundity of the early 1970s, absent any of
the quirky counter-culturalism, fiery passion and gritty
realism that made some of the films of that era
Exley can't be blamed for the poor quality of the film.
His comment about the film was that it “bore no relation
to anything that I had written.” To be fair to the
screenwriter and the director, one should note that it's
probably an unfilmable book to begin with, consisting as
it does of real and imagined events presented as the
interior monologues of a quirky and troubled narrator
(basically a version of Exley himself, even using his
I'm not certain of this, but I don't think it has ever
been issued on any home media, not even on VHS. The only
reason I have seen it now is that Warner, which owns it,
has put it up on their YouTube catalogue channel, where
you can watch it for two bucks, as I did.
Check Other Crap
for updates in real time, or close to it.