Playhouse 90

Season 1 Episode 1

Forbidden Area

Aired Thursday 9:30 PM Oct 04, 1956 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • 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.