Lucan: The Gamble of Murder

This post is for all of you who love the “true crime” variety. Normally, and even in this case, remembering that the events depicted, however embellished actually happened–including such a brutal murder– makes me squirm. It gives me pause because I have to confront the hideousness of  murder. So many books, television shows, and movies don’t linger on the violence done to the actual body. The death is the starting place–the mystery to be solved. In Lucan, the murder takes place in near dark, so it is shadowed and relayed in sound and it turned both my heart and stomach.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 10.08.54 AMIn terms of what actually happened, John Birmingham, the seventh Earl of Lucan, separated from his wife in 1973( pictured above). In 1974, frustrated by deepening gambling debt (his nickname was “Lucky” due to a huge haul years before and the fact that he was a “professional” gambler) and his wife’s full custody of their children, he is alleged to have planned his wife’s murder. Instead, he mistakenly murdered the nanny, who was of the same height and build as his wife, and then assaulted his wife, who managed to escape to a local pub. Lucan called his mother, explaining there had been an “incident” and the children needed her. He was last seen at a friend’s, in the wee hours of the morning of September 8, the morning following the murder. His friend was not home, but his wife was and she posted letters for him the next day. His borrowed car was found the following day, but Lucan was never seen again.

For me, the most tragic scene, beyond the murder, is when the nanny’s father, after being asked by media if they are satisfied with the murder trial’s result (the jury deliberated for only 30 minutes before finding Lucan guilty), decries the fact that his daughter, the woman so brutally murdered was barely mentioned.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 10.09.30 AM

Above is the nanny, Sandra Rivett. The film’s director dedicates the movie to her. The acting is wonderful, as is the cast, and the mystery that lingers is what became of “Lucky”? Did he commit suicide or did his privilege and wealthy friends afford him escape? This is a film that disturbed me greatly as we watch Lucky determine to murder his wife and then commit the act, and also as we see others, those who knew him, refuse to believe what is so bloody clear to the rest of the world. Streaming now on Acorn.


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