If Lizzie could only have known!
For many summers the For Sale sign has been up in front of the famous address on French Street, Lizzie Borden’s beloved and last home. Over the past few weeks, an interested buyer has made trips to Fall River and at last the house, owned for many years by Robert Dube, has transferred ownership. The Fall River Herald News broke the story this afternoon at this link. http://www.heraldnews.com/article/20141121/NEWS/141128850
The house will operate as a Bed & Breakfast and it looks like exciting times ahead for the old Queen Anne house. The photo above was taken recently after a fresh coat of cream-colored paint was applied. The new owners should be taking possession after the holidays. The house did operate briefly as a B&B some years ago. It will be fun to watch what the months ahead will bring.
After years of watching grainy old VHS tape, the long-awaited DVD version of the Legend of Lizzie Borden with Elizabeth Montgomery is available through Amazon.com! Get ‘em while they’re hot! The 1975 version of the Borden tale is the best thing to date on film. http://www.amazon.com/Legend-Lizzie-Borden-Elizabeth-Montgomery/dp/B00HZVX14O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412913687&sr=8-1&keywords=Lizzie+Borden
The FRHS announced an exciting donation to the Borden archive today. The following appears on the FRHS Facebook page and is very exciting. How can we wait until August 4th?
“Lizzie Borden’s home: Extremely rare photograph discovered! Lizzie Borden had this green and gilt “Maplecroft” seal made for use on her correspondence — a rare example of her personal style during her years in that residence. Now we are excited to report that a truly unique photograph taken inside the French street mansion while Lizzie lived there has been given to the FRHS! It’s the only suchphoto ever to have surfaced, and anyone with an interest in Lizzie will find it fascinating. For the first time, we have a partial but revealing glimpse of the interior of her home. And the subject of the photo – something Lizzie apparently cherished — helps to debunk one of the biggest myths perpetuated about her.
Donated by a descendant of Lizzie’s personal maid, Ida S. Carlson, the photo came to us with impeccable provenance. Lizzie hired a professional photographer to capture the compelling image and had it mounted in an ornate frame, and around 1899 she gave it to Ida, who displayed the treasured piece in her home until her death, at which time it was acquired by a relative.
The photo will make its debut at the FRHS at a special exhibit opening on August 4, 2014, where it will join a collection of other recently acquired Borden-related items of note. Mark your calendar, and be sure to come and take our informative tour about the life and trial of Lizzie Borden!” (Posted April 22, Facebook).
Released on May 13th, most likely prompted by the recent popularity of the Lifetime Channel’s Christina Ricci effort- the 1975 version with Elizabeth Montgomery can now be pre-ordered on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Legend-Lizzie-Borden-Elizabeth-Montgomery/dp/B00HZVX14O/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1394644302&sr=1-1&keywords=Legend+of+Lizzie+Borden
For many, this made-for-TV movie was the starting point for interest in the Borden case. Highly recommended viewing, as Montgomery gives a compelling performance in the title role and the script stays closer to the real story than the recent Lifetime Channel effort, even though some liberties are taken and some key figures left out. Youtube has had the film online, albeit chopped up in segments, for some time but it will be a treat to see it start to finish uninterrupted. The film’s signature musical theme is unforgettable.
After the great ratings and enthusiastic reception of the less-than-accurate Lifetime attempt at telling the Borden story, you can be sure a little flurry of books will soon be out there, hopefully getting it right. Random House has signed up a new Lizzie young adult book to be published in Spring ‘16. It’s a narrative non-fiction book called The Borden Murders, and is by Sarah Miller. Another released this month is now available on Amazon. Keep your fingers crossed for accurate research. We can only hope, Lizziephiles!
So, Bordenphiles everywhere are probably burning up their keyboards tonight writing reviews of the much-hyped Lifetime movie, Lizzie Borden Took an Axe. Before the verdict is in, why indeed was this production rushed to the screen? Clearly with a gross lack of fact checking on the case, the culture and mannerisms of the times, set dressing and costume, this was a low-budget rush job to get something in the can to beat out the anticipated Playtone-Tom Hanks production starring Chloe Sevigny. Ms. Sevigny, a visitor to Fall River and a case enthusiast would have done the role justice.
The never-ending inaccuracies, too numerous to mention in full, indicate a total laziness on the part of the scriptwriters to even consult Google for the most basic of facts on the case. In fact, other than the undeniable truth that two people were murdered in Fall River, most probably with a hatchet, there is not much else this version of the story got right.
Filmed in Halifax, presumably for the vintage atmosphere and possibly budget constraints, the film begins with a house which looks nothing like the Borden house, a city which looks nothing like a city and most certainly nothing like Fall River. There is no flavor of the mills, Main Street, the Hill section or the river. At least they did not attempt the distinctive Fall River accent.
Even those not in the know about speech patterns, costume, mannerisms and culture of 1892 will instantly sense something is quite wrong on all these counts. For example, a woman would never have appeared on the street without a hat, and most assuredly not at an inquest. When making a period piece, attention to the smallest detail is essential lest the entire screen illusion of the event be destroyed. And speaking of destroyed- what did you think of Lizzie’s playlist?
• The Black Keys, “Psychotic Girl”
• Ian Clement, “The Hammer & the Nail”
• Sons of Jezebel, “Whoo Boy”
• Kreeps, “Pennsylvania Boarded House Blues”
• Paul Otten, “Dangerous Mind” *
• The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer, “Are You Listening Lord,” “Shake It”
• Pow Wow, “All In” *
• Lady of the Sunshine, “White Rose Parade”
• Cavendish Music Library, “Razzamatazz Man”
It is always a great risk to incorporate contemporary music in a period piece. The end result may be campy or it may turn out to be another Marie Antoinette film disaster of recent years. In this case, the spectacle of Christina Ricci striding out defiantly to a forbidden party in what might be construed as a “Soiled Dove”, cleavage-baring bodice to the strains of “Whoo Boy” is laughable. At the party Lizzie meets Nance O’Neil who makes her entrance into Lizzie’s life at least 12 years too early. Understandably, in a two hour film, many factual sequences must be collapsed or even omitted in the interest of time. What is unforgiveable is that in this production, they managed to find precious minutes for total fabrications which never occurred, or did not serve the history timeline in the least, while leaving out vital information and actions and incidents crucial to the case. It’s almost as if the script writer had a large handful of facts about the case scribbled on post-it notes, threw them all up in the air, and whatever order they landed in was the order in which they appear, sometimes tarted up or altered at will and with zero relationship to the actual timeline of the true events.
As in the Elizabeth Montgomery 1975 film, (a vastly superior effort), Lizzie’s Uncle John Morse was left out as well as Mrs. Churchill, the very important star attorney and former Massachusetts Governor Robinson, Mr. Moody for the Prosecution, and others. Andrew Jennings was the sole embodiment of Lizzie’s defense. With the actual Borden trial transcript available, the screen writer for this sad attempt himself should have been hanged for Laziness in the First Degree. Kudos for getting the famous line uttered by Lizzie in response to whether she and her mother were cordial, “It all depends on your idea of cordiality”.
Also disappointing was the performance of Christina Ricci, a talented young actress who turned in a one-note song as Lizzie. The real Lizzie Borden was a multi-faceted and subtle person; refined, dignified, meticulous, affectionate to friends and also stubborn, having feelings of inferiority, and a full spectrum of traits as most human beings possess. Ricci has made her name as a quirky, Goth-Girl, dark performer and is good at it. She is better than the lines given her in this production. Ricci’s distracted, crazy poses, bulging eyes, and defiant little outbursts did not make for much depth-of character.
So many disappointments for even the most casual Lizziephile: Lizzie standing over a cauldron stirring up that infamous dress, outside, while Emma shrieked and Alice Russell peered out a second storey window, City Marshal Hilliard played as a fool, Andrew Borden with dark hair and a mustache, Lizzie racing around in her underwear with hair streaming wantonly down her back, the missing scene where neighbor Addie Churchill spies the corpse of Abby Borden under the bed, Dr. Bowen popping out of his house like a jack-in-the-box when Bridget hammers on the door. All so incorrect. All so maddening. When will anyone recognize that this story deserves to be told as it actually happened? If Cameron could not get it right with his Titanic epic, as pretty as it was to look at- then there is little hope the real, and truly fascinating story of the Borden case will ever see the light of day. Another golden opportunity missed.
Two thumbs way down. Not released tonight, it escaped. Airing again on Sunday. Give it a miss.
Once again Fall River is about to tear down a fine old building to make room for a parking lot. The Morgan Street School, known as the N.B. Borden School more recently, was sold for a pitiful sum. Last used in 2007 as a grammar school, there had been plans for the redundant building to be converted into a community center. The layout inside would have been ideal for a city museum. Timetoast.com ran this article on its timeline about the sale of redundant schools in the city: ”
In February 2012, the city council delays sale on Belisle; awards bids for Osborn to SB&A Realty Group, Fall River, for $3,111 for professional building, and for N.B. Borden to TA Restaurant Inc., Fall River, for $5,000 for parking and possibly apartments. Council President Linda Pereira removes Pat Casey from RE Committee related to Belisle School controversy.
For more information on Lizzie at the school visit the W&W link below.
The Pear Essential Productions’ annual August 4th dramatization at the Borden house will have a few new faces this year. Mike Shogi, from Cleveland will be directing this year for the first time as long-time producer-director and script writer Shelley Dziedzic steps down after a long run. She will still assist with ticket sales, script and costuming.
There will be some big changes in casting this year as well as a few old familiar faces reprising their usual roles. Stay tuned for more cast announcements here.
Below: The cast from August 4, 2012.
A much-anticipated series debuted today in the Sunday Providence Journal. ” Projo” writer Paul Davis certainly did his homework for this six-part article which runs all week and features some new, never-before-published information. The writing is crisp, accurate and thought-provoking and highlights trial coverage from 1893 Providence Journals. Lizziephiles will be over the moon with the expansive coverage. If you cannot obtain a hard copy of the paper, read all about it at the newspaper online link.
A short trailer was put up on Saturday night to heighten anticipation.
A promotional online video is also on the Projo site and Youtube which features Warps and Wefts writer, Shelley Dziedzic who made a tour with Journal reporter Paul Davis in May. The tour encompassed all things “Lizzie” in and around Fall River and a jaunt to the New Bedford courthouse to visit the scene where the 1893 trial unfolded.
First, a big thank you to followers and readers of Warps & Wefts as we mark the 600th post since 2007. Comments and emails are much-appreciated.
Well, just as seen posted here every October, Lizzie is back in time for Halloween in every fun house, horror venue, costume contest, and not more than a few really BAD films. Usually seen in a red and black dress with puffy leg-o’-mutton sleeves and red hair, she is swinging a bloody hatchet- or even more often an axe, and looking maniacal. Sadly, a really intriguing mystery goes missing in all the gore, and much misinformation about the case gets repeated as Gospel truth which makes a lasting impression. The true story is as scary as anything: two harmless old people savagely slashed and bludgeoned in the head right in the safety and comfort of their family home; home– a place which should be the haven of safety. If this can happen there- then who is safe? Horrifying thought. Rod Serling and Alfred Hitchcock got it right. Horror truly comes in the unexpected violence which intrudes into the safe and simple day-to-day, ordinary life.
So this year, W&W is not going to comment on Halloween Lizzie doings all over America. Rather, try having a really good historical scare by reading the source documents on the case. The witness statements, inquest, preliminary, and trial are all available on Amazon, and some free online. And while you are waiting for your Amazon delivery, here is something interesting to read.
After the annual August 4th dramatization by the Pear Essential Players, visitors on tour at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum were asked to fill out an exit poll and give any comments they wished to leave. Some of the results were surprising and humorous.
Lizzie Guilty 55, Lizzie Innocent 11, Lizzie undecided or neutral 1, Uncle John Morse Guilty or Involved 24, Billy Borden, Guilty 1, Typhoid Mary 1, Emma Borden Guilty 1, Hired Professional Killer 1, Bridget Sullivan Guilty 6, Uncle John and Bridget together 1.
Motives ran the gamut: greed and hatred of stepmother, money and revenge, secret love affair between Lizzie and her Uncle John, mental instability, resentment, payback, anger, jealousy, incest, left out of will, freedom, and envy of her wealthy girlfriends on the Hill.
Other suspects considered were: an evicted tenant of Andrew Borden’s, and Lizzie and Bridget working together, Bridget aiding in the cover-up.
One very interesting motive for murder proposed was the effect that “overly busy patterns on the wall paper and carpeting brought on mental stress”, as did the killing of Lizzie’s “pet raven” which was probably confused with the pigeons Andrew Borden killed by wringing their necks.
Under the category of weapon, all agreed on HATCHET, with one writer filling in the word “Sufficient”!
For the most part all agreed that the murders would never be solved, with only two claiming confidence that they would be.
After the performances ended, there was a drawing for an overnight stay for two at the B&B. The Aruda family, who live in Fall River, won. The cast of 16 was the largest ever since the B&B opening in 1996. Carol Ann Simone debuted as Lizzie this year to an appreciative crowd. Tickets had sold out by lunch time.
The Fall River Historical Society special August-4-Sept 30 exhibit will display, for the first time, the post mortem photographs of Abby and Andrew Borden. Other rare and never-displayed items from the trial and trial lawyers will be on exhibit.
For those who cannot get enough of the Borden Case, this will be a four-star weekend featuring the annual dramatization at the house on Second Street ( tickets on sale now at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast) and a VERY special exhibit which opens on August 4th and runs through September 30th at the Fall River Historical Society. For Letterboxers, a special letterbox will be hidden in Fall River to mark the 120th anniversary of the historic crime. Atlasquest.com will have the clue, so bring your stamp and notepad, an inkpad is provided in the box. To see the clue type Fall River, MA in the locator box at the Atlasquest.com site. Got Lizzie? And how!
The Pear Essential Players Present
Saturday, August 4, 2012
Reserved Tickets are Now On sale at
The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum
Turn back the clock to the morning of August 4, 1892. The bodies of Abby and Andrew Borden have been discovered cruelly murdered at their home on Second Street. The friends and neighbors have gathered around daughters Emma and Lizzie as the police and doctors collect evidence and question the inhabitants of #92. Can you help the police solve the mystery? Who could have committed such a grisly deed?
A drawing for the day’s tour visitors will be held after the last performance for a Gift Certificate for Two for a night at the Bed & Breakfast. The Drawing is at 4:15 p.m. Follow the Pear Essential Players on Facebook and at http://pearessentialproductions.org/
Abby Borden- Shelley Dziedzic
Andrew Borden- Don Sykes
Lizzie Borden- Carol Ann Simone
Emma Borden- Barbara Morrissey
Uncle John Morse- Joe Radza
Bridget Sullivan- Suzann Rogers
Marshal Hilliard- Ray Mitchell
Officer Phil Harrington- Mark Lomastro
Dr. Bowen- Jack Sheridan
Mrs. Phebe Bowen- Ellen Borden
Addie Churchill- JoAnne Giovino
Dr. Dolan- Michael Shogi
Miss Manning- Eliza Marks
Nellie Bly, Intrepid Globe-Spanning Reporter- Katrina Shogi
Undertaker Winward- Jerry Pacheco
Alice Russell- Kristin Pepe
A new Miss Lizzie is making her debut! Tickets go on sale July 15th! Call 508-675-7333 to reserve.