Cruel Doubt

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Cruel Doubt
Directed by Yves Simoneau
Produced by Susan Baerwald
Written by Joe McGinniss (Book)
John Gay (teleplay)
Starring Blythe Danner
Matt McGrath
Ed Asner
Adam Baldwin
Gwyneth Paltrow
Music by George S. Clinton
Cinematography Elliot Davis
Edited by Rick Fields
Michael Ornstein
Distributed by NBC
Release dates May 17, 1992
Running time 187 min.
Country USA
Language English

Cruel Doubt is a 1992 television movie starring Blythe Danner and Matt McGrath, as well as Danner's daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow. The film was first broadcast as a two-part miniseries on NBC in the United States and CTV in Canada on May 17 and May 19, 1992.

The movie is based on the true crime book Cruel Doubt by Joe McGinniss, which documents the 1988 murder of Lieth Von Stein by his stepson, Chris Pritchard, and two friends, James Upchurch and Gerald Neal Henderson.[1]

Plot[edit]

In their bedroom asleep one night, Bonnie and Leith Von Stein are violently attacked and stabbed by home intruders. Bonnie barely survives, but her husband does not.

The investigation into who could do such a thing, and for what purpose, takes an unexpected twist when Bonnie's son Chris Pritchard becomes a prime suspect in the case. Police theorize that it is possible Chris provided two friends from school, Henderson and Upchurch, with a detailed map to the Von Stein family's home, resulting in his mother and stepfather being assaulted while Chris and his sister Angela were in their own bedrooms in the house.

The savagery of the crime and the absurdity of the charge leads Bonnie to hire attorney Bill Osteen to represent Chris, inasmuch as she finds it impossible that he could have played a role in her husband's murder. The more police investigate, however, the more Osteen tries to prepare Bonnie that her son may indeed be involved. And that even Angela may know more than she has been telling.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Although the film brought much attention to the murder of Von Stein, devotees of the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons have criticized it for unfairly placing blame of the murders upon the game.[2] The three perpetrating friends were supposedly fanatics[citation needed]. The film unethically featured the actual Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st-edition rulebook (which by then was a multi-million best-seller) but with a piece of artwork visibly pasted into the pages of the book (depicting an orc with a dagger and backpack similar to the ones in the murder depicted), implying that it had caused the murders.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ McGinniss misspells the name "Neil," but it is spelled correctly in Jerry Bledsoe's book Blood Games.
  2. ^ The Attacks on Role-Playing Games, by Paul Cardwell, Jr., originally published in Skeptical Inquirer, 18:2, 1994 (157-165).
  3. ^ Cruel Doubt on The Escapist's FAQ

External links[edit]