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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)
Reviews
Popularity
4,996 ( 83)

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

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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

Charles Van Doren mentions there being a split infinitive in a document he is to sign. A notorious example of this is on Star Trek (1966) : "...to boldly go where no man has gone before". The correct grammar is "to go boldly" because there isn't supposed to be another word between "to" and whatever verb follows. See more »

Goofs

During the lunch scene, Goodwin describes the Reuben Sandwich as the only entirely invented sandwich entered in a sandwich contest by Reuben Kay. Some claim that a wholesale grocer named Reuben Kulakofsky created the sandwich at Omaha's Blackstone Hotel in 1925. However, Fern Snider, a waitress at the Blackstone, entered the recipe in a national sandwich competition in 1956, and won. See more »

Quotes

[while Dan Enright is testifying]
Dick Goodwin: I thought we were gonna get television. The truth is... television is gonna get us.
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 »


Soundtracks

MORITAT
Written by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht
Performed by Lyle Lovett
Lyle Lovett appears courtesy of Curb Music Company and MCA Records
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User Reviews

Polished and professional drama
15 June 2002 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

The ratings of 1950's quiz show `21' are in freefall due to the dominance of dorky Jew Herbie Stempel. The sponsors and network owners put pressure o the producers to replace him. When WASP Charles Van Doren comes to audition for another show they offer to ask him the questions that he already answered at the practice. Herbie is told to take a dive and Van Doren becomes an audience draw. However when Herbie starts making noise about a fix, a congress employee, Dick Goodwin, decides to go after the network.

This is a glossy, professional piece of work that sadly was never as huge as hit as it deserved to be (probably not enough explosions for the US audience). The story is based on a true story that happened in the 50's and it's used here partly as a bit of history but also as a look at television in terms of it's most basic desire to sell and entertain at any costs – if that means fixing shows or getting the `right' ethnic groups on screen then s be it. It is effective on that level because it's hard to imagine anything has changed since 1950. The actual human drama comes between Van Doren and Stempel – the film makes them both real people, neither good nor bad but having a bit of both.

Turturro is the best thing in this film. His Herbie has so many levels which he must touch throughout and he does them all well – whether it's humour, pride, anger or realisation. Fiennes is good but at times I did find it hard to be sympathetic with a WASP born into a lofty family who gets more given to him. That said Fiennes did him well. Morrow was a strange choice – famous at the time for Northern Exposure, he does a weird performance here – almost doing an impression of what he thinks a tough Noo Yark investigator would be like. The supporting cast is filled out with quality so deep that even the extras are famous now! (Calista Flockhart turns up briefly). David Palmer and Hank Azaria are good as 21's producers, Christopher Mcdonald is good as the host – people like Griffin Dunne, Mira Sorvino, Timothy Busefield and Barry Levinson come and go, and Martin Scorsese has a wicked role as the money behind the scandal.

It works on many levels – at it's most basic it is a true story of great interest, at best it lets you see how television works and how men with money can rarely be reached for any wrong doing. Working on so many levels this is a polished professional drama that involves from start to finish.


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