Playhouse 90: Season 3, Episode 1

The Plot to Kill Stalin (25 Sep. 1958)

TV Episode  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Drama
8.5
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 19 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 1 critic

In late 1952, an aging and increasingly paranoid Stalin puts in motion a purge against his doctors, with antisemitic overtones. His lackeys,Khruschev, Molotov, Beria, etc. fear it will spread to the politburo, and plan to strike first.

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Title: The Plot to Kill Stalin (25 Sep 1958)

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Poskrebyshev
Oskar Homolka ...
...
...
...
Malenkov
...
Mme. Molotov
Lawrence Dobkin ...
Shtemenko
...
Sokolovsky
David J. Stewart ...
Ignatiev
Paul Bryar ...
Zhukhov
Paul Lambert ...
Rassine
Harry Davidson ...
Ryumin
Paul Maxwell ...
Recorder
Edwin Jerome ...
Senior Physician
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Storyline

In late 1952, an aging and increasingly paranoid Stalin puts in motion a purge against his doctors, with antisemitic overtones. His lackeys,Khruschev, Molotov, Beria, etc. fear it will spread to the politburo, and plan to strike first.

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25 September 1958 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

At the time the play was first shown, the exact circumstances of Stalin's death were not known in the West. It was later confirmed that he had not suffered a stroke in his office in the Kremlin whilst in the company of several senior officials, as the play depicts, but whilst alone in his dacha at Kuntsevo, outside Moscow. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Propaganda...but essentially true.
20 August 2012 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This is one of the weirder episodes I've seen of "Playhouse 90". That's because it was most likely meant as anti-Soviet propaganda AND it's essentially true. Being a retired history teacher, I realized that the details of what occurred may not have been exactly correct (some simply is conjecture because it wasn't like the Soviets at the time wanted to talk about the incident), the overall film was essentially true. It shows Stalin as a paranoid genius who was completely without scruples--which is absolutely true. The guy was responsible for the deaths (directly and indirectly) of millions and the term 'monster' doesn't seem to be overstating it. In fact, the film could have been MUCH worse in discussing his atrocities. Instead, it focused exclusively on his paranoia and purges just within the upper ranks in the USSR. As for the other characters, they, too, were pretty close to who they really were. And, yes, doctors were afraid to treat Stalin after his stroke and the way they showed this portion of the film was pretty close.

As for the dramatic qualities of "The Plot to Kill Stalin", it was exceptional due to good writing and an amazing group of character actors including Melvyn Douglas, Eli Wallach, Thomas Gomez, E.G. Marshall, Oskar Homolka and Luther Adler. While many of these names might not be familiar, they were among the best in their craft and the only teleplay from the era with a more impressive cast that I can recall is the original TV version of "12 Angry Men". Well worth seeing, tense and exciting.


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