Watch Quiz Show
- 2 hr 13 min
In 1950s America, television quiz shows were all the rage. One such show, Twenty One, was a ratings sensation, and its biggest star was Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), a charming and erudite Ivy League professor. The show's quizmaster, Mark Van Doren (Paul Scofield), was Charles's father, and their on-screen rapport made them beloved by audiences. But behind the scenes, the show was rigged, and Charles was being fed the answers by producers who wanted to keep him on top for as long as possible.
Meanwhile, in Queens, a working-class man named Herb Stempel (John Turturro) was also a quiz show star. Herb was less polished than Charles, but he was a trivia savant and had been dominating the game for weeks. When the producers decided to bring in a new challenger to dethrone Herb, they chose Charles, who seemed like the perfect foil - smart, wholesome, and photogenic.
What followed was a battle of wits between the two men, as the producers manipulated the game to ensure Charles's victory. Herb, outraged by what he saw as cheating, began to speak out about the show's inner workings, and eventually went public with his accusations. A young investigator named Dick Goodwin (Rob Morrow) was assigned to look into the matter, and as he delved deeper into the web of lies and deception surrounding Twenty One, he uncovered a scandal that shook the nation and forever changed the face of television.
Quiz Show, directed by Robert Redford, is a powerful and thought-provoking drama that explores themes of ambition, ethics, and the corrupting influence of fame. Fiennes gives a standout performance as Charles Van Doren, imbuing the character with a sense of charm and vulnerability that makes his eventual downfall all the more tragic. Turturro is equally impressive as Herb Stempel, bringing a fierce intensity to his portrayal of a man who feels both wronged and betrayed by the system.
Morrow, as Goodwin, serves as the film's moral center, and his growing sense of outrage as he uncovers more and more evidence of the fix is palpable. As the movie progresses, the characters are forced to confront difficult questions about what it means to win, and at what cost. Is it better to be honest and lose, or to cheat and succeed? Can we trust the things we see on TV, or are they just illusions?
Quiz Show does an excellent job of re-creating the look and feel of the 1950s, from the crisp black-and-white cinematography to the vintage sets and costumes. The film's attention to detail is remarkable, and the period touches serve to heighten the sense of historical authenticity.
At its core, Quiz Show is a cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked ambition and the corrupting influence of fame. The film's message is clear: there are no easy answers, and the path to success is often paved with compromises and sacrifices. Ultimately, Quiz Show is a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of what it means to be human, and the lengths to which we will go to achieve our dreams.
Quiz Show is a 1994 history movie with a runtime of 2 hours and 13 minutes. It has received outstanding reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.5 and a MetaScore of 92.