The Legend of Lizzie Borden
|The Legend of Lizzie Borden|
Borden rises in court to learn what the jury has decided.
|Directed by||Paul Wendkos|
|Produced by||George LeMaire|
|Screenplay by||William Bast|
|Music by||Billy Goldenberg|
|Cinematography||Robert B. Hauser|
|Edited by||John A. Martinelli|
The Legend of Lizzie Borden is a 1975 American television movie. It premiered on ABC on February 10, 1975. The film starred Elizabeth Montgomery as accused murderer Lizzie Borden, 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 is left ambiguous whether Lizzie was actually reminiscing about the crimes or simply fantasizing how she herself would have 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; Lizzie does not answer. The epilogue states that the killings of Andrew and Abby Borden remained unsolved.
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." One of the gowns worn by Mongomery in the film is on display at the bed-and-breakfast that now occupies the Borden house.
The film won writer William Bast the 1975 Edgar Award for Best TV Feature/Miniseries. 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).
The film was also nominated for Best Motion Picture Made for Television in the 1976 Golden Globe Awards.
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.
Paul Mavis of DVDTalk.com, reviewing the new DVD release of the made-for-TV movie, called it "a fascinating, hypnotic exercise in psychological grotesquerie, married to a beautifully fractured bit of arty horror."
- Pylant, James (2004). "The Bewitching Family Tree of Elizabeth Montgomery". Genealogy Magazine.
"Rhonda R. McClure. Finding Your Famous (& Infamous) Ancestors. (Cincinnati: Betterway Books: 2003), pp. 14-16.
- Derry, Charles (2009). Dark Dreams 2.0: A Psychological History of the Modern Horror Film. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. p. 370. ISBN 9780786456956.
- In appreciation of Elizabeth Montgomery