I just saw Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte again. I was struck at the similarities between the film’s story and the Lizzie Borden case.
1. The wealthy family.
2. The dominance of the patriarchal father.
3. The manner of killing.
4. General belief that the suspected was guilty (Charlotte is never charged).
5. Continuing mystery because of the lack of legal termination.
6. Headless corpses (the Bordens decapitated by coroner; the victim in
Charlotte decapitated by killer).
7. Hatchet never found (B); head and hand never found (C).
8. Handleless hatchet (B); handless corpse (C).
9. Children’s macabre rhyme. In Charlotte, it goes something like this:
” Chop, chop sweet Charlotte/Chop up your married man/Chop off his head and hand.”
10. In Charlotte small children test each other’s courage by seeing if a kid is brave enough to sneak into the home of the notorious, elderly woman; in Frank Spiering’s Lizzie, Russell Lake recalls that he was “one of the privileged children who could run through her yard” while many youngsters were frightened of the notorious, elderly Lizbeth Borden. The book also says that Borden sometimes invited children into her home and that some kids were too scared to enter but the “brave” received hot chocolate.
I don’t know whether these parallels were coincidence or consciously
intended by Charlotte’s makers.
“Echoes of Lizzie in Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte” was originally published on page 18 of the October, 1996 issue of The Lizzie Borden Quarterly, © 1996. Article reproduced courtesy of the “Lizzie Borden Quarterly,” Maynard F. Bertolet, editor.