Quiz Show (1994)

PG-13   |    |  Biography, Drama, History


Quiz Show (1994) Poster

A young lawyer, Richard Goodwin, investigates a potentially fixed game show. Charles Van Doren, a big time show winner, is under Goodwin's investigation.

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7.5/10
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  • Ralph Fiennes in Quiz Show (1994)
  • Ralph Fiennes in Quiz Show (1994)
  • Allan Rich in "Quiz Show"
  • Robert Redford and Allan Rich in "Quiz Show"
  • Allan Rich and Ralph Fiennes in "Quiz Show"
  • John Turturro in Quiz Show (1994)

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User Reviews


11 August 2003 | sddavis63
7
| An Interesting Study Of TV Corruption, But Strangely Lacking In Intensity
In the late 1950's the TV game show "Twenty-One" was rigged. Popular contestants who could grab ratings were fed the questions and answers, and those who the network wanted off were told to take dives, all for the sake of keeping ratings up and selling Geritol. "Quiz Show" is the story of the scandal, and of the potential danger of the power of television. The movie focuses around two contestants in particular: Herbert Stempel (John Turturro), the reigning champ at the start of the movie who the network decides it wants to dump in favour of someone more glamorous who can pull in higher ratings: Charles Van Doran (Ralph Fiennes), a college literature professor. Stempel feels cheated of the glory that he feels was his due, while Van Doran is tormented by his desire to tell the truth, but also to cover up his involvement in the scandal.

This is an interesting film that gives a fascinating look at the inside workings of the TV game show of that era. And it does paint a fascinating moral dilemma. As Dan Enright (David Paymer) - Twenty-One's producer - says to the Congressional committee that investigates the scandal, this was after all just a TV show; by definition a piece of entertainment. The sponsor sold its product, the network got ratings, the contestants made money and the public got entertained. Where was the victim? And yet it WAS dishonest. It's a fascinating issue, this whole concept of a victimless crime. And the ultimate irony was summed up by Dick Goodwin (Rob Morrow), the head Congressional investigator: the Committee got Van Doran, but what he wanted was to get television. In the end, as he says, television will probably end up getting them.

All in all this was an interesting movie, although - strangely for a true story - I felt it lacked any sustained dramatic intensity. Remembering Jack Barry from the 1970's as host of the game show "The Joker's Wild" (he was also the host of "Twenty-One"), I was very impressed by Christopher McDonald's portrayal of him. Although the role wasn't really that central to the movie, McDonald had Barry down pat, and I felt as if it really were Jack Barry I was watching.

All in all, this is a very good movie. I wouldn't run out and buy it, but it's certainly worth a rental.

7/10

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film cast includes four Oscar winners (Mira Sorvino, Paul Scofield, Martin Scorsese, Barry Levinson) and four Oscar nominees(Ralph Fiennes, David Paymer, Ethan Hawke and Douglas McGrath).


Quotes

Charles Van Doren: Last week alone, I had 11 proposals of marriage!
Mark Van Doren: Perhaps you should accept one of them.
Dorothy Van Doren: And to think, they unleash you on those impressionable young minds.
Mark Van Doren: Well, why not? He's 33 years old, Jesus Christ had a girlfriend at 33 years old.
Dorothy Van Doren: Look how ...
Thomas Merton, The Monk: ...


Goofs

The call letters on the TV cameras are WNBT. New York's NBC affiliate changed its call letters from WNBT to WRCA in 1954, 3 years before the Van Doren streak.


Crazy Credits

No.1 Mom.......Katherine Turturro


Alternate Versions

The network version of "Quiz Show" uses replacement footage in two places. They are:

  • In the scene where Dan is telling Herb that he has to take a dive, the line "Look, don't start believing your own bullshit, all right? You wouldn't know the name of Paul Revere's horse if he took a shit on your lawn!" is changed to "Look, don't start believing your own bull, all right? You wouldn't know the name of Paul Revere's horse if he took a nap on your lawn!"
  • When Herb is talking to Dan about getting a panel show, Herb's line "You get me that panel show, or I'm gonna bring you down with me, you lousy lyin' prick! You and Charles Van Fucking Doren!" is changed to "You get me that panel show, or I'm gonna bring you down with me, you lousy lyin' pig! You and Charles Van Friggin Doren!"


Soundtracks

MACK THE KNIFE
Written by
Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht and Marc Blitzstein
Performed by Bobby Darin
Courtesy of Atco Records
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Biography | Drama | History

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