Sunday, May 7, 2017


I DVRed Lizzie when TCM ran it at the end of March. It's going to be on TCM again tonight at 8:00 PM, so I made it a point to watch the movie last night so I could do a full-length post on the movie today.

Elizabeth Richmond (Eleanor Parker) is a young woman who works at a museum by day and goes home to live with her aunt Morgan (Joan Blondell) at night. Elizabeth is a mousy little thing, having only one friend, in the form of coworker Ruth (Marion Ross). And home life isn't so good either, as Morgan spends most of her time drinking bourbon, the only thing that's worth drinking apparently. Add to all that that Elizabeth is constantly fatigued and receives death threats from somebody calling herself "Lizzie", and you've got a young woman with serious problems.

Ah, but that's just the beginning. One night, as Elizabeth is going up the stairs to her bedroom, she calls aunt Morgan a drunken slut, and claims to have no memory of having done so. We then see her putting on garish makeup and going out to a dive bar that has as the only thing going for it the presence of Johnny Mathis at the piano. This is Lizzie, and Lizzie is a polar opposite from Elizabeth. At the bar, Lizzie meets one of the co-workers from the museum, who obviously recognizes that there's something going on.

As for aunt Morgan, she doesn't recognize it until one morning when the bottle of bourbon is empty. Elizabeth claims to hate bourbon, and Morgan knows she didn't drink it all. So she talks with her neighbor Walter (Hugo Haas, who also directed) about it, and Walter suggests Elizabeth seek professional health. And Walter knows just the man for the job, psychologists Dr. Wright (Richard Boone).

Elizabeth does go to see Wright, who puts her under hypnosis revealing that Elizabeth has another personality in Lizzie. Actually, she's also got a third personality in Beth, who is probably the original personality that was suppressed under the extremely shy Elizabeth and the extremely vicious Lizzie because Beth had to survive some chidhood trauma. But what is that trauma, and how could it mess Beth up that much?

Lizzie is very reminiscent of The Three Faces of Eve, and both came out in the same year. Lizzie isn't remembered as much, probably because it didn't have studio backing -- it was produced by Kirk Douglas' independent production company. It's really not a bad movie, but it's one that's hampered by its subject material. It's so easy to wind up over the top when you've got as your story a person who plays three wildly different people, and then add pyschiatric counseling to all that. Lizzie, unfortunately, falls into that trap at times, with the result that you'll probably find yourself laughing at points that aren't supposed to be funny. Some would point out, however, that this makes it even more of a reason to watch Lizzie.

Lizzie has received a DVD release courtesy of the Warner Archive collection (the movie was distributed by MGM; I don't know the rights status of other films produced by Kirk Douglas' company). It probably ought to be on one of those four-movie box sets than a standalone.

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