7.5/10
59,688
166 user 65 critic

Quiz Show (1994)

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:

Robert Redford

Writers:

Paul Attanasio (screenplay), Richard N. Goodwin (book)

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From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 6 wins & 28 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Turturro ... Herbie Stempel
Rob Morrow ... Dick Goodwin
Ralph Fiennes ... Charles Van Doren
Paul Scofield ... Mark Van Doren
David Paymer ... Dan Enright
Hank Azaria ... Albert Freedman
Christopher McDonald ... Jack Barry
Johann Carlo ... Toby Stempel
Elizabeth Wilson ... Dorothy Van Doren
Allan Rich ... Robert Kintner
Mira Sorvino ... Sandra Goodwin
George Martin ... Chairman
Paul Guilfoyle ... Lishman
Griffin Dunne ... Account Guy
Michael Mantell ... 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.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 October 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Kviz See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$31,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$757,714, 16 September 1994, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$24,822,619
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Herb Stempel: a former contestant interviewed by Richard Goodwin. See more »

Goofs

The Oscar for Best Picture in 1955 was actually "On the Waterfront". See more »

Quotes

Herbie Stemple: [referring to television] That box is the biggest thing since Gutenberg invented the printing press, and I'm the biggest thing on it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After years in exile, Dan Enright and Jack Barry returned to television with "The Joker's Wild". It made them millionaires. See more »

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!"
See more »

Connections

References The 28th Annual Academy Awards (1956) 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
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An Interesting Study Of TV Corruption, But Strangely Lacking In Intensity
11 August 2003 | by sddavis63See all my reviews

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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