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The Legend of Lizzie Borden

The Legend of Lizzie Borden is a 1975 American historical mystery television film directed by Paul Wendkos and starring Elizabeth Montgomery as Lizzie Borden, an American woman who was accused of murdering her father and step-mother in 1892. It co-stars Katherine Helmond, Fritz Weaver, Fionnula Flanagan, and Hayden Rorke. It premiered on ABC on February 10, 1975. The film was nominated for a Golden Globe award for Best Motion Picture Made for Television in 1976.

The Legend of Lizzie Borden
The Legend of Lizzie Borden.jpg
Genre
Written byWilliam Bast
Directed byPaul Wendkos
StarringElizabeth Montgomery
Katherine Helmond
Ed Flanders
Fionnula Flanagan
Fritz Weaver
Amzie Strickland
Hayden Rorke
Music byBilly Goldenberg
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Production
Producer(s)George LeMaire
CinematographyRobert Hauser
Editor(s)John A. Martinelli
Running time96 minutes
Production company(s)Paramount Television
George LeMaire Productions
DistributorABC
CBS Television Distribution (syndication)
Release
Original networkABC
Original releaseFebruary 10, 1975 (1975-02-10)

PlotEdit

The film, although based on fact, is a stylized retelling of the events of August 4, 1892 when the father and step-mother of New England spinster Lizzie Borden were found brutally murdered in their Fall River, Massachusetts home. Public interest in Borden and the murders is exacerbated by her aloof demeanor after the murders, and the public speculate about her involvement when she fails to express emotion at her father and stepmother's funerals.

The subsequent incarceration of the prime suspect (Lizzie herself) as well as the coroner's inquest and trial are largely faithfully depicted, using actual testimony. During the trial, various persons testify, including Bridget Sullivan, the Borden's maid from Ireland who was the only other person in the home at the time of the murders.

In what may be seen as deviation from the film's docudrama narrative, as Lizzie hears her verdict, flashbacks are shown of her actually committing the murders in the nude and bathing after each death, thus explaining why no blood was ever found on her or her clothes; however, it is left ambiguous whether Lizzie was actually reminiscing about the crimes or simply fantasizing how she herself would have disposed of her victims. In another deviation, after Lizzie's acquittal, her sister Emma asks her point-blank if she killed their parents; Lizzie does not answer. The epilogue states that the killings of Andrew and Abby Borden remain unsolved.

CastEdit

ProductionEdit

CastingEdit

Elizabeth Montgomery and Lizzie Borden were sixth cousins once removed, both descending from 17th-century Massachusetts resident John Luther. Rhonda McClure, the genealogist who documented the Montgomery-Borden connection, said, "I wonder how Elizabeth would have felt if she knew she was playing her own cousin."[2] One of the gowns worn by Montgomery in the film is on display at the bed-and-breakfast that now occupies the Borden house.

Irish actress Fionnula Flanagan was cast in the part of the Borden's maid, Bridget Sullivan, who was originally from Ireland.[3]

ReceptionEdit

AwardsEdit

The film won writer William Bast the 1975 Edgar Award for Best TV Feature/Miniseries.[4] It also won two Emmy Awards, for Costume Design (presented to Guy C. Verhille) and Film Editing (John A. Martinelli), and received nominations in three other Emmy categories: Lead Actress (Montgomery), Art Direction (Jack De Shields), and Sound Editing (Harry Gordon).[4]

The film was also nominated for Best Motion Picture Made for Television in the 1976 Golden Globe Awards.

European versionEdit

The European theatrical version is more explicit than the one broadcast on ABC, showing Borden nude in the scenes where she kills her parents. This version also runs an extra 4 minutes, 104 minutes total versus the United States version of 100 minutes.[5]

ReleaseEdit

A Region 1 DVD release of the film was released on October 7, 2014 and is now available for purchase.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Lentz, Harris M. (1983). Science fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film and Television Credits. McFarland. p. 953. ISBN 978-0-899-50070-6.
  2. ^ Pylant, James (2004). "The Bewitching Family Tree of Elizabeth Montgomery". Genealogy Magazine. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. "Rhonda R. McClure. Finding Your Famous (& Infamous) Ancestors. (Cincinnati: Betterway Books: 2003), pp. 14-16.
  3. ^ "Fionnula Flanagan Biography (1941–)". Film Reference. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  4. ^ a b Derry, Charles (2009). Dark Dreams 2.0: A Psychological History of the Modern Horror Film. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. p. 370. ISBN 9780786456956.
  5. ^ In appreciation of Elizabeth Montgomery

External linksEdit