Cruel Doubt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cruel Doubt
Cruel Doubt.jpg
Based onCruel Doubt
by Joe McGinniss
Screenplay byJohn Gay
Story byJoe McGinniss
Directed byYves Simoneau
StarringBlythe Danner
Matt McGrath
Ed Asner
Adam Baldwin
Gwyneth Paltrow
Theme music composerGeorge S. Clinton
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
ProducerSusan Baerwald
CinematographyElliot Davis
EditorsRick Fields
Michael Ornstein
Running time187 min.
Production companiesSusan Baerwald Productions
NBC Productions
Original networkNBC
Original releaseMay 17 (1992-05-17) –
May 19, 1992 (1992-05-19)

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

Ed Asner, Adam Baldwin and Dennis Farina also star.

The miniseries is based on the 1991 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.


In their bedroom asleep one night, Bonnie and Lieth 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 was away at college and his sister Angela asleep in her own bedroom at home.

The savagery of the crime and the absurdity of the charge leads Bonnie to hire attorney Bill Osteen to represent Chris, in as much 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.



Although the film brought much attention to the murder of Von Stein, players of the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons have criticized it for unfairly placing blame for the murders upon the game.[1] The film featured the actual Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first-edition rulebook (which by then was a multi-million dollar 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.[2]


  1. ^ The Attacks on Role-Playing Games Archived 2007-08-05 at the Wayback Machine, by Paul Cardwell, Jr., originally published in Skeptical Inquirer, 18:2, 1994 (157-165).
  2. ^ Cruel Doubt on The Escapist's FAQ

External links[edit]