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Lizzie Borden Took an Ax . . .


Mac_the_Nice
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"Gave her mother forty whacks. 
And when the grisly job was done, 
She gave her daddy forty-one." 
-- 



Don't you hate it when screen and TV writers alter history, hacking it to bits with their own political ax to grind? 

Go through all the material in the Lizzie Borden archive, and you will find nary an indication that Andrew J. Borden ever sexually molested his daughter, Lizzie, thus to give her such a motive to hack him, both he and her step-mother to death with a hatchet. 

No sooner had that implication capriciously arisen from an inane dream sequence in "The Legend of Lizzie Borden" than I had to turn it off in disgust, feeling quite sorry for the actress in the title role, Elizabeth Montgomery, that she should be faced with the odious chore of having to put a new face on her character, in face of being handed an exonerating motivation that was out of comportment with what she'd developed for her role up to that point. 

After all, the miserly abuses of A. J. Borden (a wealthy banker) forcing his daughters to live as paupers, was plenty enough to create a seething well of rage in Lizzie sufficient to the act, given the resentment she held also against her step-mother for all the many reasons the record shows. And never mind the rancid mutton stew the old Scrooge had insisted they finish, making the whole family including himself sick, the night before he and Mrs. Borden were murdered. 

The Lifetime Network recently aired a version of the story (now available on streaming from NetFlix) that was far more adherent to the known facts of the case, but due to the perfectly ridiculous decision to use a loud, raucous electric blues score (complete with vocals) for a film set in New England of the 1890s--well! What would you think? 

What might have been a fine effort otherwise, came to naught, being for just that reason despised by critics, and nearly all of those commenting at IMDb--you can hardly find a post where that goes without mention. Despite a laudable performance by Christina Ricci in the title role, every time that horrible score comes to invade the atmosphere of what's on screen, you just feel like you'd love to take a hatchet to the tasteless brains of those Lifetime producers. What were they thinking? I ask the same thing of Baz Luhrmann with that horrid rock n' roll mock up of "Moulin Rouge". As if the John Huston picture of 1952 was not the last word on film for that title--bet there's others here who love it as I do. And if José Ferrer didn't nab an Oscar for his performance in that, I don't know what.
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Well as a former Massachusetts resident, I have been to the Borden House and read several books on the famous murders, which vary greatly. It's a wonderful true "murder mystery" that can be hard for contemporaries to grasp because women's roles have changed so drastically through the years.

 

Many researchers claim all sorts of weird reasons- sexual abuse, Lizzie being "bi-polar" or "insanity" from menstruation. I tend to ignore that and concentrate more on who may actually have swung the ax. (Along with the skulls, the tiny 1.5 lb axe is in the Fall River Historical Museum) 

 

It took a special woman to assist in anything bloody like surgeries in those days, it's amazing to think this sheltered woman could murder her dad while sleeping. There was a shady relative staying at the house at the time who may have been bribed to do the deed. 

 

I rather liked the Elizabeth Montgomery TV movie about the Borden case. I thought she did a great job depicting the type of woman Lizzie was as well as the strong bond she had with her sister. Although I love Christina Ricci, what you're saying about the music would kill any interest I have in seeing that version.

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Has the film with Elizabeth Montgomery been airing anywhere? I haven't seen it in ages.

 

As I am in close proximity of the house, I have never had a remote inkling to visit. Shades of Jack the Ripper and all that sort of rot.

 

I'm of the opinion that her father was a bastard and that PMS played a role in the murder, provided she did it.

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The Broadway musical New Faces of 1952 featured a great song about Lizzie Borden: "You Can't Chop Your Momma Up in Massachusetts." 

 

New Faces of 1952 was filmed as New Faces (1954). Here's the song, in the film:

 

 

 

It was later recorded by the Chad Mitchell Trio:

 

 

 

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Borden is always a fascinating topic to speculate on, but given the history and the available evidence, it might be unwise to make assumptions this long after the fact.

 

Sepiatone

Hey there, You, and other TCM pals.

 

Under the link below there is a very closely researched study on the Lizzie Borden case, authored in 1937 by Edmund Pearson, a Harvard educated native of Massachusetts, career librarian and somewhat prolific writer. 

 

http://murderpedia.org/female.B/images/borden-lizzie/trial-lizzie-borden.pdf

 

Wish I knew how to convert that to Kindle format because the text is so tiny on the wee little screen otherwise. But what a compendium of information! The man literally leaves no stone unturned. This study even contains testimony he gained from yet living, you might say, 'principals' involved with the case, policemen, etc. who had been on the murder scene. 

 

"Borden is always a fascinating topic to speculate on, but given the history and the available evidence, it might be unwise to make assumptions this long after the fact." 

 

Yes. And that is why this injection of the . . . well, incestuous love gone bad, theme turned me off, because what do they have from known facts of the case to support it? Okay, how about the ring? Remember the ring? The ring Lizzie removed from her own finger to give to her father, the one thing she is known ever to have given him, the ring he never removed from his finger, that ring which remained on his finger forever, even to be buried with it? 

 

Is that anything?

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It was later recorded by the Chad Mitchell Trio:

--

 

God-a-Mighty! I would never have remembered that--I mean this . . .

 

"Shut your door, lock and latch it,

Here comes Lizzie with a brand new hatchet . . ."

 

I used to own that record, in college, for the godsakes.

 

It was the only thing worth listening to on it. Otherwise, I had all the records by the Limelighters, as I'm sure you, Old Soul, will remember them . . .

 

 

 

But here's how I heard them in 1962, when they were younger and Glen was still with them, performing in a basketball stadium of the University of Minnesota--it was nothing short of a transformative moment in my whole 19 year old life . . .

 

 

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Has the film with Elizabeth Montgomery been airing anywhere? I haven't seen it in ages.

 

As I am in close proximity of the house, I have never had a remote inkling to visit. Shades of Jack the Ripper and all that sort of rot.

 

I'm of the opinion that her father was a bastard and that PMS played a role in the murder, provided she did it.

--

PMS -- omigod. That must have been it for Messalina of Rome as well, and never mind Lady MacBeth, let alone "Martha" of Albee's play. A whole lot of Literature & History, in their mysteries could be explained by -- PMS. Yes. I think there may be something in that. Especially in view of the astute considerations of Ms. Camille Paglia on the subject. No. I am NOT joking.

 

Meanwhile, with others here I now agree. Having watched the rest of the "Legend of Lizzie Borden" with Elizabeth Montgomery on YouTube, to my surprise, I do find it a laudable effort to tell the story. Just maybe the incest theme is the only thing that can stand to explain such a thing. Maybe simple greed, jealousy and resentment is not enough . . .

 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GILnT9JHsBo

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Well as a former Massachusetts resident, I have been to the Borden House and read several books on the famous murders, which vary greatly. It's a wonderful true "murder mystery" that can be hard for contemporaries to grasp because women's roles have changed so drastically through the years.

 

Many researchers claim all sorts of weird reasons- sexual abuse, Lizzie being "bi-polar" or "insanity" from menstruation. I tend to ignore that and concentrate more on who may actually have swung the ax. (Along with the skulls, the tiny 1.5 lb axe is in the Fall River Historical Museum) 

 

It took a special woman to assist in anything bloody like surgeries in those days, it's amazing to think this sheltered woman could murder her dad while sleeping. There was a shady relative staying at the house at the time who may have been bribed to do the deed. 

 

I rather liked the Elizabeth Montgomery TV movie about the Borden case. I thought she did a great job depicting the type of woman Lizzie was as well as the strong bond she had with her sister. Although I love Christina Ricci, what you're saying about the music would kill any interest I have in seeing that version.

 

Having the lady of the house to order Lizzie to clean all the windows while its 104 degrees could bring a person to murder.  

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But, she was acquitted - was she not?

 

Yes, there wasn't enough evidence to convict her. She went on living in Fall River, but her & Emma moved to a big beautiful estate which also still stands. They were known to throw elaborate parties including (gasp!) celebrity actors of the day.

 

article-0-12C3279C000005DC-675_634x475.j

 

The law firm that represented Lizzie is still in business in Springfield Mass. They have all the records of the case in a vault up for review for public release every 25 or 50 years (not exactly sure). I was living in Mass when the time came up, but they decided to keep the records private. 

This tells me there must be something incriminating in there.

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