Monday, June 10, 2013

Lizzie Borden Took an Axe...

Lizzie Andrew Borden
On June 20th, 1892 in Fall River, MA, Lizzie Andrew Borden was found Not Guilty in the brutal axe murders of her father and step-mother. After the trial, Lizzie took the name 'Lizbeth' and she and her sister Emma moved to new home in the pricier section of Fall River. After a falling out over a party Lizbeth threw for the actress Nance O'Neil, Emma moved out the house known as 'Maplecroft.'

No one else was ever accused of murdering Borden's father and her step-mother, though many theories were later presented. And rumors persist that Lizzie killed her parents after they discovered she was in the throes of a lesbian affair with O'Neil. After over 100 years, no one knows for sure who actually hacked Andrew and Abby to death, 

When Uncle P was a child, I knew the silly rhyme:

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.

Andrew was actually struck 10 or 11 times, while Abby took 19 blows to the head. The crime and subsequent trial was quite sensational and they inspired the rhyme above. It also inspired a 1975 ABC Movie of the Week, The Legend of Lizzie Borden starring Elizabeth "Bewitched" Montgomery; Fritz Weaver; Fionnula Flanagan (The Others; "Lost") and Katherine Helmond (Brazil). The movie posited that Lizzie had actually committed the murders and had gotten away with it. I remember being both fascinated and horrified that the sweet, gorgeous Montgomery could play such a role.

Now comes word (via) that indie darling (and former Wednesday Addams) Christina Ricci will be playing Borden in an upcoming Lifetime TV movie. While probably a better physical fit for the character, I have to wonder if Ricci will be able to bring the same depth to the role as Montgomery, who was nominated for an Emmy for her performance. I remember everyone being shocked at the time by Montgomery's performance back in the day. I hope that Ricci can still still shock audiences 30 years later in a 110 year old story. Regardless, this may well be a Lifetime movie that Uncle P can actually sit through without groaning.

I tried to find a video of the trailer (or at least some of the ABC movie) online, but was unsuccessful. Instead, here's a clip of Montgomery on the Mike Douglas show in 1966:

I hope the upcoming movie sheds some new light (or at least visits some other theories) on the Borden murders. And I hope Ricci can come close to Montgomery's performance in the new film. Either way, I'll be watching.

More, anon.

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