Lifetime Movie Channel on Lizzie Borden Got The Most Obscure Thing Right!

04 Feb

While the poor reviews and commentary on the gawd-awful Lifetime Movie Channel’s Lizzie Borden Took An Axe (see my earlier post) starring Christina Ricci continue, I have to report on a most singular and obscure thing they DID get right:  The picture above the sofa where Andrew Borden met his fate.


(Image above of the crime scene taken late afternoon of August 4, 1892, from my personal collection of second generation photos.)

You can see the picture here, actually a black and white print of a steel engraving. Here are a couple more images:

Elms1This image was also taken on August 4rh, 1892, after the sofa had been removed.

There never was any mention of this picture in any of the source documents, newspapers or subsequent books written on the case.  Apparently, never worthy of citing, it wasn’t nearly as notable as the sofa – which has been referred to as a “horsehair sofa of the Civil War era”.  But the picture has never raised an eyebrow nor an inkling of curiosity.  What that picture was remained unknown for 108 years.

In early 2000, Lizzie Borden expert Leonard Rebello, a Fall River native and author of Lizzie Borden Past & Present (1999) conducted some in-depth research and discovered it was a steel engraving called “The Village Elms – Sunday Morning in New England” by a rather prolific painter, Albert Fitch Bellows (1829-1883).  For the first time ever, EVER, the “picture above the sofa” was identified in print with the publication of the April 2000 issue (Vol. VII, #2) of the most excellent The Lizzie Borden Quarterly published by Martin F. Bertolet.  Lizzie Borden enthusiasts who subscribed to this august publication, were the first to learn of this discovery.   To my knowledge, there has never been any other feature article or any reference to this engraving – in context with the Lizzie Borden case – ever written about since.  A print of this engraving has hung above the sofa at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast since Mr. Rebello’s discovery.

bellowsAlbert Fitch Bellows

Here it is below:


One can readily see this exact picture hanging above the sofa in the Lifetime Movie Channel’s film which first aired on January 25, 2014, nearly 14 years after the identification of the what and who first came to light.

So who, I ponder, in the production of this pitiful portrayal of the case was responsible for bringing that piece of historical accuracy to the film?  Who did the research?  How did they learn of the picture?  (Perhaps it was Lee-ann Wilber, manager of the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, who had been contacted about “borrowing” the sofa).  Nonetheless, they got the sofa wrong but the picture is correct.  They got most everything wrong but they got the picture right.  A most obscure inclusion with absolutely no relevancy to the case itself.  If they troubled to research that and incorporate it into the film, why leave out so much that WAS relevant?

While it can now be said they got something right, that singular and obscure find still lacks sufficiency for redemption of all they got wrong.  Albert Fitch Bellows.  The Village Elms  And now you know.

ElmsColorColored version of “The Village Elms – Sunday Morning in New England”

Final note:  I’d be willing to bet it never hung at “Maplecroft”.  😉


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6 responses to “Lifetime Movie Channel on Lizzie Borden Got The Most Obscure Thing Right!

  1. Valerie

    February 13, 2014 at 9:40 PM

    I so appreciate your website and would love to visit Fall River. Not sure of the correct place for this observation, but it concerns the missing word on John Gray’s scathing letter. How about “mis -honed razor”? Without the dash. I looked it up on Google and it’s apparently the result of something going wrong when honing a straight razor.

  2. Valerie

    March 15, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    Kudos to our sleuth Len Rebello for solving that part of this (dare I say it?) enduring mystery. Utterly confounding that they got it right in the movie. Oh well. I always enjoy the fashion, furniture, and scenery in period movies like that.

  3. Matt Mills

    May 2, 2014 at 4:51 AM

    The photo of the sitting room after the murder sofa was removed is the clearest version of the photo I have ever seen and you can even make out the what appears to be the dining room table where they ate the johnny cakes, cookies the infamous mutton broth.

  4. Ronald Bueker

    April 28, 2016 at 4:33 AM

    Good morning,
    I would like to know if there is any testimony or police reports or factual reports that state the door between Andrews room and Lizzie room was blocked with furniture. Did anyone need to move furniture before they broke through the door I to Lizzie’s room?


    • phayemuss

      April 30, 2016 at 9:15 PM

      Yes, that is true. Lizzie’s single bed was diagonally placed at northeast corner next to the door, which had remained locked for the past year. That’s in Trial Testimony and prelim.

  5. Pat

    May 8, 2016 at 1:23 PM

    Was it the original picture that was shown on TV \is the original picture still in place in the Lizzie Borden B&B I took 2 tours through the house several years apart when I went back to visit Fall River, my hometown, and no one ever discussed the picture and in fact I did not really notice it all eyes would be focused on the sofa or other ornaments in the room that was pointed out by the tour guide. If the picture was hanging over the sofa at the time of the murder one would think it would have been splattered with blood and possibly ruined. or entered into evidence. Well maybe not used as evidence since so much was ruined of the crime scene and there was no DNA back then Just a thought


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