Short Takes: Nov. 23, 1992

TELEVISION

The Making Of a Monster

ROBERT DUVALL, BULKED UP INSIDE HIS military overcoat and nearly expressionless beneath a bushy mustache, looks as much like Frankenstein's monster as Joseph Stalin in HBO's new film about the Soviet dictator. Certainly his deeds are just as monstrous, and even more unfathomable. Directed by Ivan Passer, STALIN vividly chronicles the revolutionary footsoldier's rise to power and his ruthless, increasingly paranoid reign of terror. The scenes of Stalin's 1930s' purges are especially chilling, and the film gratifyingly avoids hokey re-creations of "big" historical events like the Yalta Conference. Still, despite Duvall's intense performance, the century's...

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