Lizzie (1957)

81-82 mins | Melodrama | 15 March 1957

Director:

Hugo Haas

Writer:

Mel Dinelli

Producer:

Jerry Bresler

Cinematographer:

Paul Ivano

Editor:

Leon Barsha

Production Designer:

Rudi Feld

Production Companies:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp., Bryna Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working titles for this film were Hidden Faces and Woman in Hell . During the opening credits for the film, hands blot ink on paper and produce a series of Rorschach prints behind the titles. The film's screenplay was based on an unpublished play also by screenwriter Mel Dinelli. Director Hugo Haas cast himself in the role of advice-giving neighbor "Walter Brenner." "It's Not for Me to Say," which was sung by Johnny Mathis in the film, became one of the popular singer's biggest hits. Lizzie marked Mathis' film debut.
       Another film produced in 1957 also dealt with the issue of multiple personality. That film, a Twentieth Century-Fox release entitled The Three Faces of Eve , was directed by Nunnally Johnson and starred Joanne Woodward (see below). According to a Sep 1956 HR news item, Lizzie 's producers sued Fox to postpone The Three Faces of Eve because of the similarity of their plots. Fox then decided to delay the production of their film until early in 1957, after the publication of the biography on which The Three Faces of Eve was based.
       Joanne Woodward received an Academy Award for her portrayal of Eve in The Three Faces of Eve . According to modern sources, M-G-M expected that Eleanor Parker would receive a nomination for her role in Lizzie ; however, when she was not nominated, they then blamed Haas for directing Parker to overact the vamp ... More Less

The working titles for this film were Hidden Faces and Woman in Hell . During the opening credits for the film, hands blot ink on paper and produce a series of Rorschach prints behind the titles. The film's screenplay was based on an unpublished play also by screenwriter Mel Dinelli. Director Hugo Haas cast himself in the role of advice-giving neighbor "Walter Brenner." "It's Not for Me to Say," which was sung by Johnny Mathis in the film, became one of the popular singer's biggest hits. Lizzie marked Mathis' film debut.
       Another film produced in 1957 also dealt with the issue of multiple personality. That film, a Twentieth Century-Fox release entitled The Three Faces of Eve , was directed by Nunnally Johnson and starred Joanne Woodward (see below). According to a Sep 1956 HR news item, Lizzie 's producers sued Fox to postpone The Three Faces of Eve because of the similarity of their plots. Fox then decided to delay the production of their film until early in 1957, after the publication of the biography on which The Three Faces of Eve was based.
       Joanne Woodward received an Academy Award for her portrayal of Eve in The Three Faces of Eve . According to modern sources, M-G-M expected that Eleanor Parker would receive a nomination for her role in Lizzie ; however, when she was not nominated, they then blamed Haas for directing Parker to overact the vamp personality.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Mar 1957.
---
Daily Variety
5 Sep 1956.
---
Daily Variety
25 Feb 1957
p. 3.
Film Daily
4 Mar 1957
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jul 1956
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Sep 1956
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Sep 1956
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Sep 1956
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Sep 1956
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Oct 1956
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Feb 1957
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
21 Mar 1957.
---
Motion Picture Daily
28 Feb 1957.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
2 Mar 1957
p. 281.
New York Times
5 Apr 1957
p. 24.
New Yorker
13 Apr 1957.
---
Newsweek
11 Mar 1957.
---
Time
25 Mar 1957.
---
Variety
27 Feb 1957
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
Men's ward
Ladie's ward
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdress
PRODUCTION MISC
In charge of prod
Scr supv
Dial supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Bird's Nest by Shirley Jackson (New York, 1954)
SONGS
"It's Not for Me to Say," lyrics by Albert Stillman, music by Robert Allen
"Warm and Tender," lyrics by Hal David, music by Burt P. Bacharach.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Hidden Faces
Woman in Hell
Release Date:
15 March 1957
Production Date:
10 September--early October 1956
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc. & Bryna Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
15 February 1957
Copyright Number:
LP8561
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording; Perspecta Sound
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
81-82
Length(in feet):
7,282
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18364
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Twenty-five-year-old Elizabeth Richmond is a mousy office worker at the Los Angeles County Museum who suffers from severe headaches and insomnia. Elizabeth’s distress is compounded by the malicious and threatening notes signed “Lizzie” she has been receiving, but co-worker Ruth Seaton assures her the notes are merely pranks. Despite Ruth’s attempts to befriend her co-worker, Elizabeth avoids socializing. One evening, when Elizabeth asks her spinster aunt Morgan, with whom she lives, about the notes and begins to question her own sanity, Morgan is too consumed with gambling and bourbon to take the girl’s problems seriously. As Elizabeth turns her back while Morgan drunkenly rambles on, she suddenly calls Morgan a “drunken old slut.” Morgan confronts Elizabeth, who, now quiet, feigns ignorance of her insult and runs to her room. Once at her dressing room mirror, Elizabeth’s personality changes into that of a coquett and she applies heavy makeup and piles her hair on top of her head. Late that evening, she goes to Rick’s Tavern, a nightclub where she brazenly flirts with men until museum janitor and playboy Johnny Valenzo recognizes her from work. Elizabeth introduces herself as “Lizzie” and insists on calling him “Robin.” Johnny finds the new Elizabeth so irresistible that he agrees to play along with her. The next morning Elizabeth complains of having a headache, but has no recollection of the previous evening. Morgan reports her suspicions about Elizabeth’s late night escapades to her neighbor, Walter Brenner, who suggests to Elizabeth that she see his psychiatrist, Dr. Neal Wright, about her “insomnia.” Elizabeth at first refuses, but when Johnny calls her “Lizzie” at work and she finds another note, she decides to seek Wright’s help. ... +


Twenty-five-year-old Elizabeth Richmond is a mousy office worker at the Los Angeles County Museum who suffers from severe headaches and insomnia. Elizabeth’s distress is compounded by the malicious and threatening notes signed “Lizzie” she has been receiving, but co-worker Ruth Seaton assures her the notes are merely pranks. Despite Ruth’s attempts to befriend her co-worker, Elizabeth avoids socializing. One evening, when Elizabeth asks her spinster aunt Morgan, with whom she lives, about the notes and begins to question her own sanity, Morgan is too consumed with gambling and bourbon to take the girl’s problems seriously. As Elizabeth turns her back while Morgan drunkenly rambles on, she suddenly calls Morgan a “drunken old slut.” Morgan confronts Elizabeth, who, now quiet, feigns ignorance of her insult and runs to her room. Once at her dressing room mirror, Elizabeth’s personality changes into that of a coquett and she applies heavy makeup and piles her hair on top of her head. Late that evening, she goes to Rick’s Tavern, a nightclub where she brazenly flirts with men until museum janitor and playboy Johnny Valenzo recognizes her from work. Elizabeth introduces herself as “Lizzie” and insists on calling him “Robin.” Johnny finds the new Elizabeth so irresistible that he agrees to play along with her. The next morning Elizabeth complains of having a headache, but has no recollection of the previous evening. Morgan reports her suspicions about Elizabeth’s late night escapades to her neighbor, Walter Brenner, who suggests to Elizabeth that she see his psychiatrist, Dr. Neal Wright, about her “insomnia.” Elizabeth at first refuses, but when Johnny calls her “Lizzie” at work and she finds another note, she decides to seek Wright’s help. At the appointment, the kindly doctor asks her questions while she is under hypnosis. At first Elizabeth replies with her own name and circumstances, but when Wright presses her, the girl suddenly becomes a mean-spirited woman who calls herself “Lizzie” and says she wants to destroy Elizabeth and move away with Robin. After four more weeks’ treatment, Wright decides to put Elizabeth into a deep hypnotic trance to reach further into her subconscious. The resulting personality, “Beth,” has empathy for Elizabeth’s sickness and confesses that she stopped talking when she was a little girl. Days later, Wright meets with Morgan and Walter, who have become closer through their shared interest in Elizabeth. Walter tells Wright that Elizabeth was distraught and broke off plans with co-workers on her last birthday. Wright explains Elizabeth has multiple personalities due to a mental block because of some past harmful incident. Wright then reveals his plans to develop the normal, lovely Beth so she can dominate the others. During another appointment, Beth, while under hypnosis, recounts a trip to the beach with her mother and her mother’s boy friend Robin, during which the couple chastises the innocent girl for interrupting their romantic afternoon. Beth says the incident made her feel unwanted, prompting Wright to tell her that he cares for her. When the doctor persists with questions about Robin, Beth becomes too distraught to continue the session. One evening when Morgan leaves Elizabeth at home, Lizzie emerges and invites “Robin” to a night of drinking and sex at the house. When Morgan returns home later, she is shocked by Lizzie’s slattern appearance and calls Wright for help. The doctor arrives at the house and slaps Lizzie, causing Elizabeth to return. Wright then has Elizabeth look in the mirror at “Lizzie.” The following morning, Elizabeth’s birthday, Morgan is so frustrated by the girl’s unpredictable nature that she congratulates each of her three personalities on their birthday, thus provoking Elizabeth to become Lizzie. The young woman throws a glass at Morgan and runs from the house. Wright arrives soon after to speak with Morgan and Walter about the girl. He begs Morgan to have compassion for Elizabeth, but Morgan is tired of taking care of her niece and reveals that she resents her sister, Elizabeth’s mother, an unprincipled woman who left the child in her care when she died. Morgan then recounts Elizabeth’s thirteenth birthday when her mother returned home with Robin too late to celebrate the occasion. She had forgotten her daughter’s birthday and was too drunk to console the little girl. Elizabeth was so hurt by her mother’s neglect that she shook her. Weak-hearted from years of drinking, Elizabeth’s mother fainted and died later that evening. Wright suspects that Elizabeth feels she is responsible for her mother’s death and devises a plan to return to that fateful night. Later that day, Elizabeth receives a note from Lizzie suggesting that she kill herself. Elizabeth climbs the stairs to the roof and is about to jump, when Ruth sees the roof door open and finds Elizabeth. Not suspecting that Elizabeth is contemplating suicide, Ruth s reports that Wright is waiting for her in the lobby. Wright then drives Elizabeth to her house, explaining that Morgan has invited them to dinner. When Elizabeth opens the door, she finds a birthday cake lit with candles. Elizabeth breaks down and voices her fear that she caused her mother’s death. Morgan tells Elizabeth about her mother’s weak heart, but Elizabeth is oblivious to her surroundings and continues to remember the evening. After her mother was carried upstairs, Robin cornered Elizabeth on the stairs, forcing her into her bedroom where he raped her. Reliving the brutality of the event sends Elizabeth running to her room, where she hallucinates about being trapped in the museum searching for her mother among the statues and displays. When she looks in the mirror, Elizabeth sees Beth and Lizzie battling for control over her. As the voices escalate, Elizabeth screams and smashes the mirror. Wright rushes up the stairs, where he finds that Beth has won the battle. He explains to Morgan and Walter that the shattered mirror symbolizes Beth’s dominance over the other personalities. Now confident that her niece is well on her way to recovery, Morgan apologizes to Beth for not being more understanding. After Wright encourages Beth to start a new life, she graciously thanks him.


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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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