Quiz Show

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One of the best films

by J. D. Hobbs on 12/4/2002

This is one of the best dramas you'll see! The acting from Ralph Fiennes, John Tuturro and Rob Morrow is superb! This movie is well scripted, beautifully shot, and simply great storytelling. I heard it once called a 'suspenseful drama', and indeed it is. It is the true story of the quiz show scandals of the 1950's and what money, pride, and fame will do to individuals. This film is absolutely one of the best ever directed by Robert Redford! If you want great drama with excellent acting, this is one you won't want to miss.

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Product Overview

Dick goodwin discovers game shows are fixed: pretty boy wasp charles van doren is fed answers so he beats geeky jew herbie stempel.


Studio Buena Vista Home Entertainment
SKU 40114566
UPC 717951003492
UPC 14 00717951003492
Format DVD
Release Date 9/11/2009
Rating Rating
Character Study
Family Interaction
Game Shows
True Story
Editors Note
Note This acclaimed drama, directed by Robert Redford, tells the true story behind the quiz show scandal of 1959. Herbert Stempel (John Turturro), a disgruntled former champion, prompts a congressional investigation into the popular game show TWENTY-ONE with his charge that the current champion, Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), a handsome professor who has become a celebrity, has been provided with answers by the producers. Rob Morrow stars as Dick Goodwin, the investigator on the case and the author of the book that inspired the film.
Plot Summary
Summary Based on the book by Richard N. Goodwin, this Robert Redford film tells the true story behind the great quiz show scandal of 1959. As television becomes more popular throughout the 1950s, quiz shows follow suit, attracting compulsive viewers who cheer for the brilliant, intellectual contestants--America's best and brightest. Herbert Stempel (John Turturro) may be unattractive and abrasive, but in 1959 he is the reigning champion of the game show TWENTY-ONE. When ratings begin to slip, the network decides that it's time to bring in a more appealing champion and bribes Stempel to answer incorrectly and purposely lose to Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), a handsome WASP professor who eventually achieves celebrity status and incredible wealth. Feeling bitter and betrayed, Stempel accuses the producers of feeding answers to the quiz show winners, prompting a congressional investigation. As the scandal grows, a different portrait of America emerges--one that shatters the nation's illusion of perfection so prevalent in the 1950s. Rob Morrow stars as Dick Goodwin, the investigator who labors tirelessly to establish the truth and simultaneously develops a respectful friendship with the subject of the investigation, Van Doren.
Memorable Quotes
Quote "I'm just trying to imagine what Kant would make of this."--Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes)
Quote "I have flown too high on broken wings. Everything came too easy. That is why I am here today."--Charles Van Doren to a congressional committee
Premiere "...A nuanced and thoroughly gripping fable..." - Recommended 04/01/1995 p.145
Rolling Stone "...Directed with probing intelligence and slashing wit....Fiennes gives a brilliant performance..." 09/22/1994 p.103-4
Entertainment Weekly "...Razor sharp..." -- Rating: A 01/15/1999 pp.64-5
New York Times "...Directed with quietly dazzling acuity by [Redford]....A rich, handsome articulate film about a subject truly worth talking about..." 09/14/1994 p.C11
Sight and Sound "...Redford's direction is fluid and self-effacing, and he draws fine performances from his cast..." 03/01/1995 p.49
Los Angeles Times "...A thoughtful, absorbing drama about moral ambiguity and the affability of evil....Fiennes' ability to project the pain behind a well-mannered façade, to turn intellectual and emotional agony into a real and living thing, is devastating..." 09/16/1994 p.F1
Chicago Sun-Times "...Robert Redford has directed QUIZ SHOW as entertainment, history and challenge....[The screenplay] is smart, subtle and ruthless..." 09/16/1994 p.39
Robert Redford
John Turturro
Rob Morrow
Ralph Fiennes
Cast & Crew
John Turturro - Actor
Paul Scofield - Actor
Ralph Fiennes - Actor
Rob Morrow - Actor
Richard N. Goodwin - Based on Novel By
Robert Redford - Director
Michael Ballhaus - Director of Photography
Stu Linder - Editor
Richard Dreyfuss - Executive Producer
Judith James - Executive Producer
Mark Isham - Musical Score
Paul Attanasio - Screenplay
Technical Info
Original Release Date 1994
Catalog ID 17639
UPC 00717951003492
Number of Discs 1
Running Time 133 minutes
Color Color
Original Language English
Available Audio Tracks English [CC], English, French Dubbed
Oscar (1995) Robert Redford, Nominee, Best Director,Michael Jacobs, Julian Krainin, Michael Nozik, Robert Redford, Nominee, Best Picture,Paul Scofield, Nominee, Best Supporting Actor,Paul Attanasio, Nominee, Best Writing, Screenplay Based On Material From Another Medium
ReviewSource VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever
Review Redford's intelligent, entertaining, and morally complex film about the TV game show scandals of the late '50s is his most accomplished work to date. At the center of the film is Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), an intellectual, golden boy who dethrones Herbert Stempel (John Turturro), the reigning champion of the rigged "Twenty-One." The program's sponsor felt Stempel, a nerdy Jewish grad's everyman qualities were wearing thin and wanted a more polished image, which they found in handsome, sophisticated Van Doren. Federal investigator Goodwin (Rob Morrow) suspects Van Doren's reign is a sham and sets out to expose him as a fraud. Acting is of the highest caliber with Fiennes, Turturro, and Morrow all giving beautiful performances. Notable among supporting cast is Scofield as Van Doren's prize-winning father. With strong script and gorgeous lensing, this modern Faust story is a brilliant reflection on corporate greed, class rivalry, and the powers of television.
ReviewRating 0
ReviewSource Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide
Review Engrossing story of the TV quiz show scandal of the late 1950s, focusing on a hotheaded sore loser (John Turturro, in a sensational performance) and his successor on Twenty-One: instant hero Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), scion of a socially prominent, intellectual family. Overlength is its only weakness--but it never ceases to be real (if not always exactly truthful). Paul Scofield is a joy to watch as the elder Van Doren, and director Martin Scorsese is well cast as the cold-blooded sponsor of the show. That's film director Barry Levinson as TV host Dave Garroway; look sharp for an unbilled Ethan Hawke in a Columbia University classroom.
Reviewer Leonard Maltin
ReviewRating 0
DVD, Aspect Ratio 1.85:1, English, French, Dubbed
Product Attributes
Actor Fiennes,Ralph
Label Buena Vista Home Video
Music Format DVD
Video Format DVD
VideoHound's Golden Movie Retriever ...intelligent, entertaining, and morally complex...
Leonard Maltin ...never ceases to be real...

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One of the best films by J. D. Hobbs on Dec 04, 2002