It’s a fact-based lollapalooza, and not a minute of it rings true. Wife, Mother, Murderer stars Judith Light (Who’s the Boss?) as Marie Hilley, a small-town Alabama woman who poisoned her husband; tried to kill her daughter; was arrested, jumped bail, and established a new identity in Florida; married again and convinced her new husband that she had a fatal disease; left him; then came back, claiming that Marie had died and that she was Marie’s own twin sister — and the poor sap believed her!
The way Light plays Hilley — widening her eyes with innocence until they look as if they’ll explode, pushing her Southern-belle charm like a bulldozer (this woman couldn’t have fooled the dumbest person on earth) — she positively glows with phoniness. Given David Eyre Jr.’s florid screenplay, there may have been no sensible way to play this character, but Light seems permanently, exasperatingly over-the-top for two hours. At least David Ogden Stiers (M*A*S*H) is convincingly gullible as Hilley’s second husband, and David Dukes in this context is a veritable Olivier of subtlety as an assistant DA determined to get this malevolent matron behind bars. D