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 <email@example.com>
After Charles Van Doren says that he can picture the King of Belgium, "right down to that Habsburg lip," Herbert Stempel knows that Van Doren is planning to give the wrong answer. The King of Belgium did not have the Habsburg lip, a genetic deformity caused by generations of inbreeding. He was a member of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and there were no Habsburgs within at least four generations of his ancestry. See more »
References to a "new 1958 model car" place the film in 1957 or 1958. The radio plays Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife," which was released in 1959. See more »
[while seeing Herb Stempel on "Twenty One."]
Well, there's a face for radio.
See more »
Charles Van Doren went to work for the Encyclopedia Britannica. Today he writes books and lives in the family home in Cornwall, Connecticut. He never taught again. See more »
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!"
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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