The Burning Bed
Film: The Burning Bed
Director: Robert Greenwald
Writer: Rose Leiman Goldemberg
Starring: Farrah Fawcett, Paul Le Mat and Richard Masur
This film begins with a woman getting her children into a car; she is played by Farrah Fawcett. The window closest to them then explodes and fire comes out of it. The younger children begin to cry while the elder daughter tries to calm them down.
We then shift to see Fawcett is in jail. She is taken to a room to meet with her lawyer who has been appointed to her, he is played by Richard Masur. Masur asks her if she killed her husband. He asks if she admitted to it to the police. He asked if she will help him defend her or if she is giving up.
The rest of the film is her telling the story, cutting to the present periodically. We see her back in the 1963. She is at a dance with her friend, played by Penelope Milford. Fawcett is interested in an older guy who is smoking a cigarette, played by Paul Le Mat. He is also hanging out with his friend. Fawcett goes to get a drink by him and she ends up dancing with Mat.
They begin to see each other and we see from the beginning he is pushy. He tries to get her to have sex with him, but she refuses, stating she wants to wait until she gets married. He is then pushing her to get married and she refuses. She has dreams of finishing high school and getting a job.
She does finally relent to his advances. Soon after she goes with him and her mother, played by Grace Zabriskie, go to pick out wedding bands. They get married and live together with his parents, Zabriskie and his father played by James T. Callahan. We see almost immediately that Mat has issues with his anger. He starts to hit her and has issues with her dressing up. He lacks confidence and feels she is going to cheat on him. He also has issues finding and keeping a job.
They begin to have children and get their own place, but their issues do not get any better. Fawcett tries to get away from him, but her mother won’t allow it. His father feels sorry for her, but stays out until he has to step in. His mother thinks this is something that just happens with couples.
Fawcett is finally fed up when she goes to file for food stamps. She is told that only the head of the household can apply for them. She knows Mat is too proud and that will not happen. The man that is helping her notices the bruises around her eye. He tells her that if she files for divorce right now, he can give them to her. She doesn’t have the 7 dollars that is needed to file and he gives that to her as well. Fawcett waits for Mat to leave the house. She packs up and flees.
Fawcett then makes a new life for herself, but she is also pregnant with Mat’s child. She has the baby, but she still will not see him. Zabriskie comes when she is in the hospital and guilt trips her into seeing him. She still loves him, but knows it won’t work. Mat tries to convince her come back to him, but she refuses again. Mat then gets into a near fatal car accident.
This brings them back together, but he is just goes back to his old ways. She starts to hit her again. It does stop for some time, but it gets even worse. The police are called, but during the time period, there wasn’t a lot they could do. That is when Fawcett takes matters into her own hands. She does as the title of the film states; she sets him on fire in his bed.
What will happen in the court system? Zabriskie defends her son to the point where she lies. Can Masur make the jury see that she is a woman who was driven to what she did and seeing no other way out?
Despite being a made for television film, it isn’t that bad. The cast is actually pretty good. I’m not overly impressed by Fawcett, since I feel like a lot of her allure is how she looks, but I will say she did fine in this role. Mat was great as the abusive husband. Masur is a journeyman actor who has been in a lot. He has a small role, but was good. I am reviewing this for my horror film research, because of how she is living her life. Normally, I would put some of this blame on her, but in this case, the times she a little bit forced to try to make it work. She does go out on her own and gets sucked back in. This would just be a horrible way to live. I also wanted to point out that this film took place not too far from where I am from. I actually played the football team from this town in high school. I was also informed that one of the scenes was filmed near my hometown as well.
I won’t knock this film down too much, but it is a lifetime/TV movie. It is the facts that were taken from the book wrote about the events, so it doesn’t have the fictional things to make it more excited. What she endures and goes through though is scary enough though.
I would recommend this film if you want to learn more about this case and what happened to this woman. The acting is pretty good for TV movie and the story is pretty scary. It does go by the facts so it isn’t overly exciting, but what happens is horrible enough to keep you interested. I would recommend giving this film a viewing.
My Rating: 7 out of 10