The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975)

Starring: Elizabeth Montgomery, Katherine Helmond, Fritz Weaver, Hayden Rorke

My Review and Thoughts:

This is a wonderful complex mystery that plays with the true story of this classic legend in history. That old childhood nursery rhyme of skipping rope to:  "Lizzie Borden Took an Axe, gave her mother 40 whacks, when she saw what she done, she gave her father forty-one." I grew up with that little rhyme. I grew up listening to the classic legend of this, some say diabolical women, some say innocent woman. Whatever the case it's a legend that will forever remain. There are many theories, ideas, speculation and secrets and lies all clouded around two brutal murders.

This TV made movie is one of the best telling of the legend and the supposed truth. I think this movie best depicts what possibly happened. How it transpired and unfolded and became the legend that it is. The movie does a great job in showcasing the possibility of this being the truth. It makes sense and is plausible. Starring the amazing and wonderful actress Elizabeth Montgomery as the main lead. She showcases Lizzie as a dynamic, sophisticated, psychopathic, strong-willed woman. Of course, everyone knows Elizabeth Montgomery from the classic television series Bewitched playing Samantha Stephens. It would be her dramatic deep acting in made for TV movies that

stood out as brilliance. Many of her roles are in True Crime films. Such True Crime films as Sins of the Mother (1991) playing Ruth Coe mother of serial Rapist Kevin Coe. She also tried to hire a hit man to kill the prosecutor and judge. Elizabeth Montgomery then played in the True Crime Film Black Widow Murders: The Blanche Taylor Moore Story (1993). Sadly, this brilliant, amazing and powerful actress. This beautiful woman passed away too soon. 62 years old is bitterly horrible. Cancer. Elizabeth Montgomery left a lasting wonderment upon the entertainment world, and the role of Lizzie Borden is a prime example of that ultimate brilliance.

This 1975 movie is still strong today as it was when it came out. It holds its own. It has aged perfectly. I think what is so good about this movie is the whole atmosphere that you get from watching this, takes you back to 1893 Massachusetts.

Katherine Helmond plays the part of Emma Borden, Lizzie's sister to an impeccable brilliance. I will always know her as Mona Robinson from the TV series Who's the Boss. She has always been amazing.

Also, starring the amazing mastery of Fritz Weaver who plays Lizzie's daddy Andrew Borden. Fritz Weaver is a master talent that had countless years of acting perfection. We sadly lost him in 2016 at the good old age of 90. He was a pure thespian in performance.

Keep an eye out for the amazing Gloria Stuart in a small part as the store shopper. For all you movie trivia buffs specifically of the modern film buff age, you will know her as Old Rose from James Cameron's masterpiece Titanic. Her brilliance in acting started back in 1932 and did so up to 2004. She passed at the ripe old age of 100.

Lizzie Andrew Borden is a myth. A folk tale. A memory and a historical reality. She is a dark stain on the justice system. Tried and acquitted on two brutal murders in 1892. Not simple murders but axe murders. Fall River, Massachusetts became a focal point. A hidden reality. A town with hints about a murderous in their sites. Talk behind one’s backs. But Lizzie never left. Never wavered. She stayed and lived. The trail of Lizzie was a landmark in publicity and brought great public interest, and became a perfect part of history that would forever be apart and interest in the American Legal Law System.

Now like Jack the Ripper which was never solved, Lizzie Borden's case became that mythical reality also, and still is to this day. There are many researchers whereas Jack the Ripper has ripperologist so does Borden have her gang of researchers. Writer Ed McBain suggested that Lizzie Borden had a lesbian love affair with the maid Bridget Sullivan and that Lizzies stepmother caught them, and that is the reason Lizzie and Bridget killed the parents.

One of the common theories, and the theory that I believe is possible, is that Lizzie was sexually molested by her father. The idea of incest was a hush, hush reality, so therefore this topic would have no evidence, which this theory has no evidence, but in my eyes, is very plausible. This TV movie version hints a little at that subject.

Now there is a rumor that the maid on her deathbed confessed to her sister that she lied on the stand, during the trial, to protect Lizzie, but of course this is all hearsay.

Another rumor is that Andrew Borden's illegitimate son, named William tried to extort money from his dad, when Andrew refused, he ended up killing them.

Also, another theory that has been thrown out there is that Emma Borden, Lizzie's sister killed the parents.

Also, interesting to note is that John Morse, who was Lizzie's maternal uncle surprisingly showed up the night before the murders, who supposedly very rarely visited, just happened to visit the night before everything took place.

There is also the idea of a total stranger doing the murders.

When in my viewpoint, in my opinion, Lizzie Borden was the killer. To me the evidence points to her. Everything pushes to the reality that Lizzie Borden lost it, or choose to do it, or planned to kill her parents. This day and age she would be convicted easily. I have seen tons of cases with less.

Lizzie and her sister after the trail moved into a new house in the neighborhood. Lizzie named the house Maplecroft. The Two Sisters inherited their parent’s money.  Maplecroft had live in maids, and service person's. Lizzie went on to change her name to Lizbeth A. Borden. In more odd and weird happenings and surroundings, Lizzie, in 1905 got in trouble for shoplifting. Also, she threw a party for actress Nance O'Neil who was a hugely popular Silent film actress of the time period. Anyway, at the party Lizzie and Emma got into it. Emma was supposedly not happy about the party. Emma left, moved out, and would never return, or see her sister again.

Lizzie would end up dying from pneumonia on June 1, 1927. As in more odd reality Emma would die 9 days later in a nursing home. And oddly both where buried together in the family plot at Oak Grove Cemetery. Weirdly, Lizzie left many sums of money to certain individuals and organizations. Something I find shocking, or downright morbid, or in a sense thoughtful, she left 500 dollars to take care of her father's grave. In that time 500 bucks was equivalent to about 9,000 dollars into days’ money.

Today you can stay in the original Borden House for it is a bed and breakfast. Interesting
on display is one of the dresses that Elizabeth Montgomery wears in this movie. Location for Lizzie's Bed and Breakfast:

230 2nd St
Fall River, MA 02721

Also, visit the website and order a Lizzie BobbleHead.

This film was awarded and nominated for many awards such as Writer William Bast took home the 1975 Edgar Award for Best TV Feature/Miniseries. The movie also won two Emmy Awards. Best Costume design and for film editing. It also had many nominations, Lead Actress, Art Direction, and Sound Editing. At the 1976 Golden Globes, it was nominated for Best Motion Picture Made for Television.
It is said there are 2 versions of this film. The American version runs 100 minutes and the European version runs 104 minutes. I don't know if that's true. There is only as of this writing a DVD. One can only hope for a special edition Blu-Ray one day.

Directed by prolific director Paul Wendkos. Directing over 100 movies and TV features in his long career. He directed many other True Crime features such as Joe McGinnis' Blind Faith (1990) about Robert Oakley Marshall who in 1984 was charged with the contract killing of his wife. Cross of Fire (1989) about the 1920s' Ku Klux Klan leader D.C. Stephenson. The Taking of Flight 847: The Uli Derickson Story (1988). The Ordeal of Patty Hearst (1979). Honor Thy Father (1973) which is about the rise and fall of the Bonanno organized crime family. He also directed one of my favorite fictional TV movies The Execution (1985), about 3 women who find out a local man is a Nazi War Criminal and go about with a scheme to kill him. He is probably best known for directing the original Gidget movie and two of its sequels.

Now I must mention the strangest most shocking reality to this film and legend, is believe it or not, for it is the truth, years after the movie. Years after Elizabeth Montgomery had passed away, Rhonda McClure, a genealogist wrote an article in 2003 about the amazing reality of her research in "The Bewitching Family Tree of Elizabeth Montgomery". Genealogy Magazine. "Rhonda R. McClure. pp. 14–16. Her research revealed that Elizabeth Montgomery and Lizzie Borden are related. They are sixth cousins once removed. How unbelievable is that fact, and yet it's the truth, just one more shocking ordeal about the life, the legend, the folk tale, the reality of Elizabeth Lizzie Borden.