46 user 7 critic

The Burning Bed (1984)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama | TV Movie 8 October 1984
An abused battered wife has had enough of husband beating up on her. Everywhere she turns for help, there's not much anyone will do. After he rapes her one night, she sets the bed on fire with him in it asleep.


Robert Greenwald


Rose Leiman Goldemberg (teleplay), Faith McNulty (book)
4,502 ( 1,841)
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Farrah Fawcett ... Francine Hughes
Paul Le Mat ... Mickey Hughes (as Paul LeMat)
Richard Masur ... Aryon Greydanus
Grace Zabriskie ... Flossie Hughes
Penelope Milford ... Gaby
Christa Denton ... Christy age 12
James T. Callahan ... Berlin Hughes (as James Callahan)
Gary Grubbs ... District Attorney
David Friedman David Friedman ... Jimmy age 10
David Andrews ... Wimpy Hughes
James Hampton ... Police Witness
Virgil Frye ... Virg
Dixie K. Wade Dixie K. Wade ... Hazel Moran
Heather Rich Heather Rich ... Christy age 6
Justin Gocke Justin Gocke ... Jimmy Age 4


After years of beatings and terror, Francine Hughes set fire to her abuser's bed while he slept. Her confession and subsequent murder trial held the nation enthralled. A dramatic story of a woman pushed over the edge. Written by Fairchild

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She was trapped 12 years in a brutal, violent marriage. Until the night she struck back. See more »


Crime | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Francine Hughes, born Francine Moran on 17 August 1947, in Stockbridge, Michigan, died 22 March 2017 in Sheffield, Alabama. She was known as Francine Hughes Wilson, having wed Robert Wilson in 1980. He died in 2015. See more »


The real Francine Hughes had four children, not three as depicted in the movie. See more »


Hazel Moran: If you make a hard bed, you have to lay in it.
See more »


Referenced in Private Practice: Georgia on My Mind (2012) See more »


Tell Him
Written by Bert Berns
Performed by The Exciters (uncredited)
See more »

User Reviews

Farrah Fawcett at her best playing a woman savagely battered by her husband for 13 years
15 December 2005 | by kcrehkopfSee all my reviews

I have seen this film dozens of times and consider it a remarkable powerful film. Farrah Fawcett is so easy to look at for hours on end, especially in these 70's housewife clothes. She is at her peak in this film and others of a similar nature, Small Sacrifices and Extremities. This is the best of the three, however. I am stunned each time I watch it at the truth of the story. There really are women and children who must endure this kind of brutality and abuse. Farrah is so good at showing Francine's slowly crumbling self-esteem and sanity. The other performances are top- notch. In particular, Grace Zabriskie seems to me as authentic as possible as a fiercely stubborn, family-centered overbearing mother in denial. The scene where the wife-beater's parents throw their bodies between those of their son and the arresting officers while moments earlier allowing the same son to attempt to kill his wife is mind-boggling. Well done. It makes me want to read the book now that I realize there is one!

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Release Date:

8 October 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Burning Bed See more »

Filming Locations:

Lansing, Michigan, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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