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Quiz Show (1994)

PG-13 | | Drama, History | 7 October 1994 (USA)
A young lawyer, Richard Goodwin, investigates a potentially fixed game show. Charles Van Doren, a big time show winner, is under Goodwin's investigation.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (book)
Reviews
Popularity
4,140 ( 104)

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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 26 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Dan Enright
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Johann Carlo ...
Toby Stempel
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George Martin ...
Chairman
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Lishman
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Account Guy
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Pennebaker
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Storyline

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 <horrigan@hanover-crrel.army.mil>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Fifty million people watched, but no one saw a thing.

Genres:

Drama | History

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 October 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Kviz  »

Box Office

Budget:

$31,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$24,822,619 (USA)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

No part of the game show cover up was against any law, and no one went to prison. Individuals were prosecuted for obstruction of justice and perjury for their part in covering it up. It led to massive changes in laws regarding contests. Most quiz shows were canceled, and the genre nearly died. One of the few to survive was a bowling show; the sport is difficult to fix on television. In the 1970s, a new generation of game shows used puzzles and word play rather than trivial knowledge. Limits restricted the length of a championship run and amount that could be won. See more »

Goofs

When Enright and Freedman attempt to convince Van Doren to appear on 21, they ask him how much does he think Bozo the Clown makes. Bozo's first TV show was in 1949 on Los Angeles's KTTV. However, Bozo did not gain national prominence until Larry Harmon established Bozo shows in various markets. The first was in LA in 1959, with the New York show also starting that year. Since Van Doren's conversation would have occurred in 1956, Bozo was not yet well known among adults or a high grossing star. See more »

Quotes

Charles Van Doren: Dad, I can't simply just tell them the truth.
Mark Van Doren: Can't tell them the truth? Why on earth not?
Charles Van Doren: Because it's complicated.
Mark Van Doren: Complicated?
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Crazy Credits

Herbert Stempel went to work for the New York City Transit Department. He still lives in Queens. See more »

Connections

Featured in Late Night with Conan O'Brien: Episode #2.34 (1994) See more »

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
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User Reviews

TV's age of innocence ended with Quiz Show scandal...
21 August 2002 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

Robert Redford's brilliant direction and a quartet of expert performances make QUIZ SHOW a highly interesting, thought-provoking experience. Unfortunately, the end of TV innocence in the '50s brought us other game shows in recent years and real life survivor series that are guilty of shortcomings just as egregious in other ways but not to be discussed here. Manners and morals began a fast decline in the late '50s and only got worse with each decade, in my opinion.

The real-life story of Professor Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), son of a famous scholar, Mark Van Doren (Paul Scofield) is told in a lively and detailed way with many sights and sounds of the '50s making the atmosphere look very authentic. When the less than charming winner of a TV show, Herb Stempel (John Turturro) is dumped in favor of the more charismatic Charles Van Doren, the story goes swiftly through a series of expertly written scenes in which all of the behind-the-scenes goings on are revealed and characterizations are sharply defined. In truth, the ratings game between Van Doren and Herb Stempel went on for many weeks before a showdown was reached.

An especially touching scene shows Charles wanting to reveal to his father the truth about his upcoming appearance before an investigative committee--relaxing as the two have an informal midnight snack in the kitchen, but unable to tell his father (played to perfection by Paul Scofield) who is a symbol of unwavering integrity. In fact, Scofield is so good in his supporting role that it's a pity the script didn't expand his role to give him more screen time.

John Turturro as Herb Stempel has the unfortunate task of appearing to be an obnoxious nerd, whose only redeeming moment comes at the end of the film when he realizes how destroyed Charles Van Doren is by the revelations. He never tries to make the character anything less than the boorish, self-absorbed fool he is and does an excellent job. Rob Morrow is sometimes less than convincing as the tenacious investigator.

Despite its lengthy running time, it all moves along at a brisk pace under Robert Redford's outstanding direction. Well worth your time, although I can't say television has raised the bar very much since its fall from grace, especially with regard to daytime talk or game shows. Are audiences any wiser today? Maybe only Regis Philbin knows...


22 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Why Lie About Van Doren "Never" Teaching Again? Master_Voorhees
Rob Morrow miscast? j-scott-adams
has the distribution of this movie been supressed since it's release? robtromp
Did anyone else find Charles van Doren's(Fiennes) smile annoying? lgforce
The real Best Picture, 1994 cdrw74minutes
Ruben Sandwich cann85
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