A Fan's Notes


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

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 (1972)
  • 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 lover!

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 a small town in 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 at 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 memorable.

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 own name).

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.
The film is only available on Warner's YouTube channel. Here's the link. It'll cost you two bucks for 24 hours of access.


There are no major reviews online.


5.9 IMDB summary (of 10)

That score is meaningless. It's based on 15 votes.




  • Julia Anne Robinson bares a breast very briefly, and appears in a completely diaphanous nightie.
  • There is nudity from two unidentified actresses. One appears in  brief topless scene. The other does full frontal and rear nudity in a lengthy scene in bright light.


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Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


I love the witty, insightful book, but not this bland movie.