Playhouse 90 (1956–1961)
8.5/10
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4 user 1 critic

The Plot to Kill Stalin 

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

Director:

Delbert Mann

Writer:

David Karp
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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Melvyn Douglas ... Stalin
Eli Wallach ... Poskrebyshev
Oskar Homolka ... Khrushchev
E.G. Marshall ... Beria
Luther Adler ... Molotov
Thomas Gomez ... Malenkov
Marian Seldes ... Mme. Molotov
Lawrence Dobkin ... Shtemenko
Bert Freed ... Sokolovsky
David J. Stewart David J. Stewart ... Ignatiev
Paul Bryar ... Zhukhov
Paul Lambert ... Rassine
Harry Davidson Harry Davidson ... Ryumin
Paul Maxwell ... Recorder
Edwin Jerome 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, including Khrushchev, Molotov and Beria, fear it will spread to the Politburo, and plan to strike first.

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Details

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 September 1958 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

CBS Television Network See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The imprisonment of Molotov's wife did not take place just before Stalin's death, but some years earlier, well before the action of this play begins. See more »

Goofs

Eli Wallach briefly trips over the line, "Improper medical techniques". See more »

Quotes

Poskrebyshev: If you keep lifting Comrade Molotov above you, he'll probably get grand ideas.
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User Reviews

 
Propaganda...but essentially true.
20 August 2012 | by MartinHaferSee 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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