The Burning Bed
The Burning Bed is both a 1980 non-fiction book by Faith McNulty about battered housewife Francine Hughes, and a 1984 TV-movie adaptation written by Rose Leiman Goldemberg. The plot follows Hughes' trial for the murder of her husband, James Berlin "Mickey" Hughes, following her setting fire to the bed he was sleeping in at their Dansville, Michigan home on March 9, 1977, and thirteen years of physical domestic abuse at his hands.
|The Burning Bed|
|Based on||The Burning Bed|
by Faith McNulty
|Written by||Rose Leiman Goldemberg|
|Directed by||Robert Greenwald|
Paul Le Mat
|Theme music composer||Charles Gross|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Executive producer(s)||Jon Avnet|
Rose Leiman Goldemberg (co-producer)
|Editor(s)||Richard W. Fetterman|
Michael A. Stevenson
|Running time||95 mins|
|Production company(s)||Tisch/Avnet Productions Inc.|
|Original release||October 8, 1984|
On March 9, 1977, Francine Hughes, following thirteen years of physical domestic abuse at the hands of her husband, James Berlin "Mickey" Hughes, tells their children to put their coats on and wait for her in their car. She then pours gasoline around the bed in which Mickey is sleeping in their home in Dansville, Michigan, and sets the bed afire. After the house catches fire, Hughes drives with her children to the local police station in order to confess to the act. Hughes is tried for first degree murder, and is found by a jury of her peers to be not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. It is widely believed that the judge and the jury largely sympathized with Francine's plight and felt that Mickey's murder was a justifiable action.
Having adapted the book into a made-for-television movie, Goldemberg's screenplay, The Burning Bed, premiered on NBC on October 8, 1984. Directed by Robert Greenwald, the film starred Farrah Fawcett as Francine Hughes and Paul Le Mat as Mickey Hughes.
The movie was also filmed in El Monte, California.
- Farrah Fawcett as Francine Hughes
- Paul Le Mat as James Berlin "Mickey" Hughes
- Richard Masur as Aryon (Arjen) Greydanus
- Grace Zabriskie as Flossie Hughes
- Penelope Milford as Gaby
- Christa Denton as Christy Hughes, age 12
- James T. Callahan as Berlin Hughes
- Gary Grubbs as District Attorney
- David Friedman as Jimmy Hughes, age 10
- David Andrews as Wimpy Hughes
- James Hampton as Police Witness
- Virgil Frye as Virg
- Dixie K. Wade as Hazel Moran
- Heather Rich as Christy age 6
- Justin Gocke as Jimmy age 4
- Elizabeth Lyn Fraser as Nicole Hughes
- Jeremy Ross as Judge Hotchkiss
The movie premiered with a household share of 36.2 ranking it the 17th highest rated movie to air on network television and NBC's highest rated television movie.
Television critic Matt Zoller Seitz in his 2016 book co-written with Alan Sepinwall titled TV (The Book) named The Burning Bed as the 7th greatest American TV-movie of all time, writing that "The film was a landmark in terms of content, depicting domestic violence as an unambiguous horror and a human rights violation". Seitz also praised the performance of Fawcett as "one of the finest in the history of TV-movies".
- The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 805. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.
- Sepinwall, Alan; Seitz, Matt Zoller (September 2016). TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time (1st ed.). New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing. p. 372. ISBN 9781455588190.