Legend of Lizzie Borden
Just in time for Christmas, Lizzie gets a new frock. This will fit your Lizzie paper doll. Be sure to print in color at 100% on matte photo paper or 28 pound copy paper for best results, portrait paper layout. I am sure you recognize the dress as do visitors to the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum! Click on the following link to download a high resolution PDF file of the dress here > christmas-dress
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.
Poor Uncle John Morse- left out the movie yet again. Morse, the brother of Lizzie and Emma’s real mother, went missing in both made-for-TV movies. He had been invited to spend the night before the murders in the guest room where Abby would be murdered the next morning. Morse was an early suspect and was followed by an angry throng the night of the murders when he went to mail a letter. Morse had a very detailed and iron-clad alibi but many still think he knew something about the murders. An eccentric, and ill-clad old bachelor farmer and livestock dealer, he seemed on kindly terms with his niece Emma but not very close to Lizzie. He probably wished until his dying day that he had not stopped by the day before. He is buried in Iowa. Oh, and he once had training as a butcher.
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.
In Lizzie Borden circles she is best-remembered for her spot-on portrayal of Bridget Sullivan, the Borden’s Irish maid in The Legend of Lizzie Borden, but in years since the 1975 film, Flanagan has had an amazing career. The Dublin-born actress admits to the tough time she endured as an Irish actress in Hollywood in this article http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/insider-do-you-know-you-are-giving-a-reception-for-murderers-3009822.html and her perseverance to reach the top as a much-beloved star of television and the big screen. She will soon receive a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Film and Television Academy. To see her long lists of credits including current projects visit http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001217/ Borden house co-owner LeeAnn Wilber has met Ms. Flanagan and has invited her to spend a night in Bridget Sullivan’s room on Second Street.!
studio publicity photo
Guests and employees at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast enjoyed watching the TODAY show feature this morning in the parlor. Already the online clip has had nearly 500 comments and the phones are briskly ringing on Second Street. The interest in the Borden case?- Keen as ever.
Chances are if you Goggle Lizzie Borden under the “News” heading, you will find several pages of stories on the Chloe Sevigny HBO project for a four hour mini-series, including stories in Polish, French, Russian and Italian! And if you live in Connecticut, Rhode Island or Massachusetts, tonight at 6 p.m., Channel 10 news jumped on the promotion band wagon. With all of the very positive buzz and excitement, it is hard to believe Tom Hanks and Playtone would change their mind about producing the four -hour series. To view the Channel 10 clip, http://www2.turnto10.com/entertainment/2011/mar/17/sevigny-may-play-lizzie-borden-miniseries-ar-426649/
The casting of Miss Sevigny as Lizzie is spot-on. She has all the right physical attributes, right down to the mesmerizing and unsettling eyes, and is of the right age to pull it off. She is also a better-than-good actress. It will be very interesting to see who will be cast in the major roles. Maybe Uncle John Morse will be included this time around.
Due to street noise and the encroachment of modern living, and many other factors, the house on Second Street will not be a likely candidate for the filming venue. The 1975 Elizabeth Montgomery attempt did a pretty fair job of recreating Borden house interiors on stage sets.
There are very high hopes in Fall River, among the Borden house bed and breakfast employees, and students of the Borden case and Fall River history that this version will get the facts right and do the story justice. Playtone and Hanks are synonymous with quality productions, so the end result holds very great promise. It is surprising that it has taken so long to revisit the case and Lizzie Borden as the topic has been building momentum and interest since the Borden house opened for business in 1996.
The buzz about the upcoming Fall River Historical Society’s Parallel Lives, detailing Lizzie’s life and Fall River has been the hot topic around Fall River for many months as it promises revelations about Miss Borden which will open a few eyes. The date of publication has not yet been announced but the long-awaited tome is in final proofing and chances are it will be published by late Spring. The nearly thousand -page volume will feature over 500 photographs, including some new views of Lizzie herself, and will disspell some commonly -held notions about her. It will be a must-read for Miss Sevigny and should have some major impact on her characterization of the enigmatic Lizzie. The series will probably have an early 2012 air date according to some sources.
In any event, Lizzie is bigger now than ever, and the upcoming series will be a boon to the city as well as book sales of Parallel Lives. It will be a very exciting year ahead.
- Chloe Sevigny is Lizzie Borden
“Big Love is set to air its series’ finale next Sunday, and some of the cast is not waiting around to find their next projects. Ginnifer Goodwin is already signed for the ABC fantasy series Once Upon a Time, and now Chloë Sevigny has joined the cast of HBO’s upcoming four-hour miniseries on Lizzie Borden. Sevigny, who has been the driving force behind the project, is set to star as Borden as well as co-executive produce.
Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman will produce through their joint company Playtone, which also produces Big Love. The story will follow Lizzie Borden’s trial, from which she was acquitted of killing her father and stepmother with a hatchet. Chloë Sevigny will star as Lizzie Borden, as well as co-executive produce.
Bryce Kass is writing the screenplay. The miniseries will likely air in 2012. ”
Axe or hatchet? – Most likely a hatchet or a short-handled axe.
Top Ten List of Most Often-Quoted Borden Case Errors
1. Lizzie was found guilty by jury of the murders of her mother and father.
Actually Lizzie was acquitted on all three counts, the murder of her father, her stepmother and both at the trial in New Bedford, June 1893.
2. Lizzie Borden was a redhead.
According to her passport she had light brown hair.
3. Lizzie’s father cut off the heads of Lizzie’s pet pigeons with a hatchet.
Andrew Borden did kill the pigeons, but by wringing their necks, according to Lizzie’s inquest statement.
4. Lizzie decapitated Abby Borden’s tabby kitten.
We have only the interview of Abby Borden’s niece, Abbie Whitehead Potter stating that Lizzie killed a kitten. The Whitehead family, with reason, had very little sympathy towards Lizzie, and this tale cannot be validated.
5. Lizzie Borden was a big, mannish woman.
Lizzie was 5 ft. 3 inches tall according to her passport, average for the times. She had put on weight during the ten months she was incarcerated in Taunton jail. Her face did have a heavy lower jaw and was described by one newspaper as a face with attributes very common to the region.
6. Lizzie and her sister sold the house where the murders took place on Second Street after Lizzie was acquitted in 1893.
The sisters held on to the property until 1918.
7. Lizzie was a kleptomaniac.
Legend has it that she shoplifted at local Main St. stores and that the bill for what she had pilfered would be sent to her father to pay. Shoplifting was surprisingly not uncommon among ladies of the period. There is no documentation at present in existence that Lizzie was a kleptomaniac and that Andrew paid the bills. The only corroborating bit of evidence is of a documented thievery of a porcelain wall ornament which went “missing” from the Tilden and Thurber jewelry store in Providence. When the item was taken back to the store for a repair, the owner was questioned about its provenance only to be told Lizzie Borden had been the gift giver. This matter was eventually settled privately. It is possible that Lizzie was a shoplifter in younger years, but not proven so.
8. Andrew Borden was a mortician.
Andrew Borden was trained as a carpenter and then went into business as a furniture and household goods retailer. He invested wisely in real estate, including two small farms, all of which would bring him a good financial return, and as a sideline, he was an undertaker. Undertaker in 1890 parlance meant a person who would supply items needed for a funeral. He was neither a funeral director, embalmer, nor mortician. An invoice has been found for his services and for a casket, signed by Borden. It was not uncommon for furniture retailers to supply wooden coffins and caskets and have a showroom or warehouse facility containing these items.
9. Lizzie committed the two murders in the nude.
Thanks to the 1975 film starring Elizabeth Montgomery as Lizzie, the nude murderess scenario has its supporters. In 1890, the thought was put forth that the killer must be saturated with blood, and it should have been impossible to hide or escape without the telltale blood evidence being detected. In fact, the killer need not have been covered from head to toe with blood, or could have worn, then later destroyed a protective covering garment. It would be unusual for a lady in the era of corsets and petticoats to have stripped bare twice on a sunny morning and walked around the house in broad daylight , then to clean up in between in a large tin basin in the cellar. Not impossible- just unlikely.
10. Lizzie Borden killed her stepmother and father.
So often assumed as fact , – in fact, nobody will ever have the final answer to this one. Based on the evidence given to the jury then, and in re-examinations of the trial evidence now, Lizzie is acquitted. Her inquest testimony, prussic acid evidence, and dress-burning evidence were not allowed at the trial. The fact that a side door remained open for almost an hour, and that an intruder could have entered the house and concealed himself, allows for reasonable doubt. And therein lies the fascination with this case.
Got a favorite oft-quoted but unsubstantiated Borden case statement to share? Please leave a comment!
Gillian Murphy as Lizzie Borden in Fall River Legend
Gillian Murphy a principal dancer in the New York’s American Ballet Theatre, previewed the upcoming controversial film, The Black Swan and compares approaching such a terrifying role undertaken by Natalie Portman to her take on channeling Lizzie Borden.
“ I once played the character of Lizzie Borden in “Fall River Legend.” That was fairly intense because you have to embrace the role onstage and experience what that character is about — very repressed and angry. But does that mean I was a nightmare to live with? Absolutely not — Ethan [Stiefel, her boyfriend ] would not have lived with me if that was the case.”
Actress Gloria Stuart, best known today for her role in 1997’s Titanic as the elderly version of Rose, passed away in her home in Los Angeles on Sept. 27th. Her birthday was last July when she turned 100 years old. Born on July 4, 1910, Her first appearance at Universal was in 1932. At the age of 87, the nomination – her first – made her the oldest person ever nominated for an Oscar. She received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2000. Her biography “I Just Kept Hoping” recounts her 70 plus years in the film industry.
In 1975, she appeared in The Legend of Lizzie Borden at the age of 65, in the role of a lady shopper in a store where Lizzie is busy thieving.