7.5/10
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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)
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Popularity
4,705 ( 153)

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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

Early in the film, when someone says that "There's a rumor Eisenhower died," Charles Van Doren's mother, Dorothy, quips, "How would they tell?" This is actually a quote from Dorothy Parker, the American writer and poet, which she said when she heard that former President Calvin Coolidge had died in January 1933. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning, Goodwin overhears news about Sputnik's launch. Van Doren appeared on "21" from November 1956 to March 1957. The Soviets launched Sputnik in October 1957. See more »

Quotes

Dan Enright: Well, it's the damndest thing, but you've plateaued.
Herbie Stemple: Plateaued? What - wh-what kind of word is that?
Dan Enright: What, plateaued?
Herbie Stemple: Plateaued.
Dan Enright: Plateaued? Uh, it's well, it's like, uh, you...
Herbie Stemple: You mean, people don't like me anymore?
Dan Enright: No, no, no. It's not you, per se. It's just...
Herbie Stemple: Maybe I should get my teeth capped
Dan Enright: No, it's the nature of the show. They've already seen you win, and they want something new.
Herbie Stemple: So, what are you saying? Th - You think they want me to lose?
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

Connections

Featured in The 52nd Annual Golden Globe Awards (1995) 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
See more »

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User Reviews

TV's age of innocence ended with Quiz Show scandal...
21 August 2002 | by DoylenfSee 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...


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