Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975)

Director: Paul Wendkos

Writer: William Bast

Composer: Billy Goldenberg

Starring: Elizabeth Montgomery, Fionnula Flanagan, Ed Flanders, Katherine Helmond, Don Porter, Fritz Weaver, Bonnie Bartlett, John Beal, Helen Craig, Alan Hewitt, Gail Kobe

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Lizzie Borden took an ax, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, gave her father forty-one.

Plot: A dramatization of the famous 1893 Massachusetts trial of the woman accused of murdering her father and stepmother with an ax.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I'm often surprised at how good made-for-TV movies can be.  They're usually tame and OK at best but this one is an exception.  It's the last act that challenges my preconceptions of the medium.  Up until then it's part 19th century drama and part court room drama.  When you assume that she committed the murders then it's just a matter of waiting until the good stuff.  It's pretty good, though, along the way.  Then we get to see the murders from Lizzie's (Montgomery) point of view and that's when it's off the charts awesome.

As a kid growing up in the 70s falling in child love with Elizabeth Montgomery on reruns of BEWITCHED, this was especially shocking and incredible all at the same time.  I doubt the nip slip made it into the version that was seen nearly thirty years ago but still....WOW!  And the blood!  Oh, boy!!!  That sequence lasts about ten minutes and it's riveting.  I was glued to the tube the entire time, not wanting to blink for fear of missing anything.  The whole picture is well made and that kill scene makes the picture what it is.  Great stuff, this.

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