The 1986-87 TV season was graced by two "dueling" biopics of Frances Bradshaw, the socialite convicted of coercing her own son into murdering Frances' millionaire father Frank. The first was the four-hour At Mother's Request, starring Stefanie Powers as Frances. The second, and superior adaptation was the three-part miniseries Nutcracker: Money, Madness and Murder, adapted by playwright William Hanley from Shana Alexander's bestselling book. With an extra two hours' playing time at its disposal, Nutcracker was able to explore the personal history of Frances Bradshaw, from her privileged entry into Bryn Mawr in 1958, through her gradual, twenty-year descent into homicidal insanity--culminating in the murder of her father in 1978. The miniseries was structured in flashback form, continually cutting back to the trial of Frances and her son (Tate Donovan). At the risk of offending the many fans of Stefanie Powers, it must be noted that the performance of Nutcracker star Lee Remick is so powerfully persuasive that it's virtually impossible to envision anyone else in the role of Frances Bradshaw.
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