The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Period Film  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Elizabeth Montgomery got the best role of her career with this creepy docudrama, a sterling example of the 1970's made-for-t.v. movie at its peak. The Legend Of Lizzie Borden hold up beautifully because it was made with a level of care you might expect from a theatrical feature. William Bast's script hooks the viewer in by using an elliptical structure whose jumping back and forth in time forces the viewer to constantly readjust their thoughts on the title character. It is also a very well-researched piece of work, offering a lot of historical evidence that might challenge a viewer's casual perceptions of the case. Director Paul Wendkos lives up to the script's level of ambition, using some effective fast-editing to handle the transitions between time periods while also making sure the story flows in a style that is easy to comprehend. Wendkos also does an excellent job of handling the film's murder setpiece, filming it in a style that is intensely unnerving without ever showing too much or going overboard on cheap shocks. Finally and most importantly, The Legend Of Lizzie Borden offers a great cast delivering impressive performances: standouts include Ed Sanders as the determined prosecutor and Katherine Helmond as Lizzie's long-suffering sister. That said, the film truly belongs to Montgomery, who gives a multi-faceted performance in the title role: she manages to shift effortlessly from being childlike to conniving, resulting in a character who is both pitiable and frightening all at once. All in all, The Legend Of Lizzie Bordenis an excellent t.v. production that is worth the time for true crime buffs and horror fans alike.