The Legend of Lizzie Borden

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The Legend of Lizzie Borden
Elizabeth Montgomery Legend of Lizzie Borden 1.JPG
Borden rises in court to learn what the jury has decided.
Directed by Paul Wendkos
Produced by George LeMaire
Screenplay by William Bast
Starring Elizabeth Montgomery
Katherine Helmond
Ed Flanders
Fionnula Flanagan
Fritz Weaver
Amzie Strickland
Hayden Rorke
Music by Billy Goldenberg
Cinematography Robert B. Hauser
Edited by John A. Martinelli
Running time 100 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Legend of Lizzie Borden is a 1975 American television movie. It premiered on ABC on February 10, 1975. The film starred Elizabeth Montgomery in the title role, along with Katherine Helmond, Fritz Weaver, and Hayden Rorke.


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 Andrew Borden were found brutally murdered in their Fall River, Massachusetts home. 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. 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 remains unclear whether Lizzie was actually reminiscing about the crimes or simply fantasizing how she herself would've disposed of her victims. The film ends after Lizzie's acquittal with Lizzie's sister Emma asking her point-blank if she killed their parents and Lizzie not answering; the epilogue states that the killings of Andrew and Abby Borden remained unsolved.


Sisters Emma and Lizzie Borden played by Katherine Helmond and Elizabeth Montgomery.

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."[1]


The film won writer William Bast the 1975 Edgar Award for Best TV Feature/Miniseries.[2] 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).[2]

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

European version[edit]

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.[3]


A Region 1 DVD release of the film has been scheduled for October 7, 2014.[4]


External links[edit]