The Climbing Black Widow
When her husband died, seemingly of hepatitis no one would have suspected Marie Hilley (Judith Light) as she seemed such a sweet southern woman. What no one realised is that Marie is a woman desperate to climb the social ladder and willing to kill to do so using poison to kill her husband in order to get her hands on the insurance money. But with an inability to control her spending her focus then turns to her own daughter who also has a life insurance policy on her. But when she starts writing cheques against he insurance the net closes in on her and causing her to flee to another state and take up with another man using an alias.
How familiar are you with the name Audrey Marie Hilley? Your answer will be significant as to how effective the movie "Wife, Mother, Murderer" is. Now if like me you have never heard of Hilley what you get is a pretty stereotypical Black Widow/ domestic serial killer movie where we have a woman who chooses to kill those close to her in order to get the insurance money. It is quite typical although we not only have a woman killing her husband but also trying to kill her daughter to get insurance money.
But there is more to the Marie Hilley story than that as after she is caught she goes on the run when bailed and this is where having more knowledge of the true story comes in to effect as this is in truth where the story becomes more interesting. The trouble is that "Wife, Mother, Murderer" is a TV movie and it is typical in the fact it feels like it is just delivering the facts of the case and not blending them fully in to a story which leads to some scenes where it all seems coincidental. For example when the police go to the hospital to arrest Marie for financial fraud a doctor just happens to notice streaks in the fingernails of her daughter and proclaims someone is trying to murder her. It is one of those movies which rushes in the facts as it is already getting to the next scene.
What is clear is that "Wife, Mother, Murderer" is a movie which relies on Judith Light as Marie Hilley playing her with an aspect of multiple personalities. So we have the sweet southern belle full of southern charm but at the same time we have the manipulative woman who is willing to kill her own daughter to get money to lead the high life which she yearns. At times Light's performance is a little to daytime soap opera but at least she brings energy to a movie where too many of the actors seem to walk through the movie as if they were the living dead.
What this all boils down to is that "Wife, Mother, Murderer" features an interesting story with the true story all the more interesting if you read up on it. It also features a vibrant performance from Judith Light which gives the movie some energy. But beyond that it is a typical 90s TV movie about a black widow type character.