Playhouse 90

Season 1 Episode 1

Forbidden Area

Aired Thursday 9:30 PM Oct 04, 1956 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
2 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Forbidden Area
The Russians sabotage the Air Force's bombers and all of them are grounded until an investigation can be made. This leaves the field clear for the Russians to make a sneak attack on the U.S.A. and drop some atom bombs. The Pentagon's top-secret Intentions of the Enemy Group is put on the job of finding out what the enemy is planning and how they infiltrated the secret air base.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • A different world...

    This first-ever "Playhouse 90" is nearly 60 years old now, and it's an alarming demonstration of a particular American mind-set. Cold-war paranoia is absolutely rampant throughout this story of sabotaged aeroplanes and a fiendish Russian plan to H-bomb America on Christmas Eve; the propaganda element extends to a suggestion that only the dirty Commies would choose the birthday of the Prince of Peace to initiate Armageddon. As a picture of a different time, when the world was riven by conflicts now long over, it's quite fascinating in a highly disturbing sort of way - one wonders how American liberals reacted to such blatant scare-mongering and open hatred. Allowing for its hysterical tone, it's quite well done, with a particularly good scene right at the start in which a couple of barflies chat idly about baseball with a bartender. As his tone gets ever more sinister and hectoring, we realise that he's actually interrogating them, that the two guys are trainee Russian spies, and that the whole scene is taking place at a secret address not far from Moscow. Charlton Heston plays the hero who undoes the foul plot - he sports an eyepatch and lets it do a lot of the acting. The director is John Frankenheimer; it's sobering to think that the future director of "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Seven Days In May" would be responsible for such reactionary eyewash, though he handles it slickly.moreless
Charlton Heston

Charlton Heston

Colonel Jesse Price

Guest Star

Diana Lynn

Diana Lynn

Catherine Hume

Guest Star

Vincent Price

Vincent Price

Clark Simmons

Guest Star

Dick Joy

Dick Joy


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • "Forbidden Area" was a carefully plotted Russian sneak attack on the United States, with its initial step the grounding of Strategic Air Command bombers. The suspenseful build-up to the detection of the plot was at times harrowing. Rod Sterling's script, in maintaining, suspense and pace, was as faithful a dramatization as television possibly could offer of the Pat Frank novel.

      The significant aspect of "Forbidden Area" however, is the fact that it could not have been dramatized as convincingly in 60 minutes of TV time as in the 90 minutes it received on "Playhouse 90." The TV drama maintained two parallel storylines: Of the Russian spy posing as an Air Force enlisted man at a bomber base and of the high level Washington Intelligence group which was supposed to spark command decisions.

      Two storylines are not necessarily better than one. But before the advent of 90 minute TV drama the stories have generally been confined to one line of development and often a truncated line at that. "Playhouse 90" also freely and judiciously interspliced film into its "Forbidden Area" production to give, both depth and width to the story. Many first-rate live TV drama producers shun filmed sequences, as if it's a form of cheating. Last Thursday's production indicated it was not, at least in the case of a drama involving the air and the sea.

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (3)

    • The play was performed in five acts. Commercial breaks between the acts provided the only opportunity for viewers to catch their breath. Each act ended on a peak of suspense, leaving the audience hanging on the ropes.

    • The resolution of the story was later (intentionally?) picked up by Adam Hall (d.i. Elleston Trevor) in his third Quiller novel, THE STRIKER PORTFOLIO (1969), albeit as a minor revelation in the overall plot.

    • It was Playhouse 90´s stated intention to present the best television had to offer, regarding actors, stories and production values. Its debut show did little to fulfill this ambitious claim. Pat Frank´s cold war novel made for a less than brillant adaptation by Rod Serling.


  • 8:00 pm
    500 Questions