Lizzie (1957): Melodrama of Multiple Personality Starring Eleanor Parker and Joan Blondell

Based on the 1954 novel The Bird’s Nest by Shirley Jackson, Lizzie stars Eleanor Parker as a woman who has multiple personalities.

Unfortunately, the film, functionally directed by Hugo Hass (who also acts) was released in the same year as the similarly themed and superior The Three Faces, starring Joanne Woodward in her Oscar winning performance.

Eleanor Parker stars as Elizabeth, a young, attractive woman who suffers from recurring headaches and is plagued with insomnia.

She is receiving letters from a woman called Lizzie, but Elizabeth can’t remember knowing anyone named Lizzie.

When Elizabeth is under hypnosis, her benevolent psychiatrist, Dr. Wright (Richard Boone), discovers  that Elizabeth has three personalities: The shy Elizabeth, the gross and vulgar Lizzie, and the kind, well-adjusted Beth, the woman she always should have been.

Through flashbacks, we see Elizabeth’s childhood and her guilty feelings over her mother’s death.

The film’s last scene occurs at Elizabeth’s birthday, with all the characters present, witnessing her nightmarish recreation of how she was raped as a teenager.  Reliving that experience miraculously “cures” her of all her problems.

In the end, Dr. Wright helps Elizabeth to assume completely the healthy woman, Beth.

The popular songs in the film, “It’s Not for Me to Say” and “Warm and Tender,” were written and performed by Johnny Mathis, who played a piano player-singer.

Though the black-and-white film was modest in ambition and had a low budget, it didn’t perform well at the box-office, and MGMG declared it a loss.

 

Cast

Eleanor Parker as Elizabeth Richmond

Richard Boone as Dr. Neal Wright

Joan Blondell as Aunt Morgan

Hugo Haas as Walter Brenner

Ric Roman as Johnny Valenzo

Dorothy Arnold as Elizabeth’s mother

Marion Ross as Ruth Seaton

Johnny Mathis as Piano Singer

Credits:

Produced by Byrna

Released by MGM

Directed by Hugo Haas