The Night They Killed Rasputin (1960)

Article #1392 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-5-2005
Posting Date: 6-4-2005
Directed by Pierre Chenal
Featuring Edmund Purdom, Gianna Maria Canale, John Drew Barrymore

After curing the heir to the throne of the Czar, Rasputin becomes a favorite at court. However, a cabal who consider him a threat to Russia plot his death.

Fantastic content: Rasputin is one of those historical characters whose life lends itself at least marginally to the horror genre. In particular, his use of hypnotism and his near indestructability lend themselves to the genre.

This is third biography of Rasputin I’ve seen for this series, and though both RASPUTIN AND THE EMPRESS and RASPUTIN, THE MAD MONK are both better known and somewhat better received, I actually think this one is my favorite. For one thing, it’s the one that made me the most curious about the historical details of Rasputin’s life. It’s also the one that gives the character of Rasputin the most dimension; he’s given his good qualities as well as his bad ones. Edmund Purdom isn’t as memorable as Christopher Lee in the role, but he does well enough, and all in all I think this version of the story is better staged and better written than the Lee version. The dubbing is even of a higher quality than usual. It plays down the horror elements in favor of the dramatic ones, and all in all I found it quite satisfying. One interesting note: John Drew Barrymore plays the prince, the same role that his father played thirty years earlier when he appeared in RASPUTIN AND THE EMPRESS.


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