An idealistic young lawyer working for a Congressional subcommittee in the late 1950s discovers that TV quiz shows are being fixed. His investigation focuses on two contestants on the show "Twenty-One": Herbert Stempel, a brash working-class Jew from Queens, and Charles Van Doren, the patrician scion of one of America's leading literary families. Based on a true story. Written by
Tim Horrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the film, the last question that Charles Van Doren answers correctly to defeat Herbert Stempel is worth 11 points, about a Civil War general who placed Ulysses S Grant under arrest. In the real December 5th, 1956 episode of Twenty One, this was actually the very first question asked of Van Doren that night, and was worth 8 points. See more »
At the birthday party for his father, it shows a man dressed as a monk. This is supposed to represent Thomas Merton, a student of Mark Van Doren in the 1930s. However, Thomas Merton was not in New York until the 1960s, During this time period, he wrote to Mark Van Doren about his son Charles but was not in New York or Connecticut at the time. See more »
It would be pretty surprising if Quiz Show, Robert Redford's film about the 1950's quiz show scandals was anything short of excellent. The principal actors give phenomenal performances: Fiennes' Van Doren is usually unflappable and cold, but manages to allow vulnerability to surface at times, and Turturro's Stempel is a study in almost sociopathic and manic behavior. What allows both actors to transcend mere greatness is their ability to make the viewer both admire and detest their characters with something as subtle as a glance or body language. Morrow's character of the `whistle-blower' is there as the moral fiber; the outsider who looks upon the situation both with objectivity and as the devil's advocate.
Redford's direction is rich and well-paced. There were not any slow moments in the film, and he did not have to adhere to rapid-fire editing to achieve the momentum of the film. Perhaps the subject matter is a factor, but I have found that with the exception of `Ordinary People', the films I have seen under Redford's direction have been good in a technical respect but lean toward the maudlin. With Quiz Show, he does what should be done when telling a true story he does not resort to preaching, rather he directs with an objectivity that allows the viewer to come to their own conclusions.
Quiz Show is an excellent film that I highly recommend, especially to see the razor-sharp performances of Fiennes and Turturro.
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