A young lawyer investigates a possible corruption scandal centered
around a game show, its producers, and its big time winners.
Quiz Show (1994)
Directed by Robert Redford
Written by Paul Attanasio
Starring John Turturro, Rob Morrow, Ralph Fiennes, Paul Scofield, David Paymer, Hank Azaria, Christopher McDonald, Martin Scorsese, Allan Rich, Mira Sorvino, Johann Carlo
Based on the book by Richard N. Goodwin
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor
(Paul Scofield), Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay
Quiz Show is a great film that shows the corruption and greed of the television corporations, particularly the scandal surrounding the popular game show Twenty-One and its producers in 1958. Remember, this is a true story that ruined a lot of lives forever. Granted, most of them had it coming. The craziest thing about all of this is that everybody lost except the guys who were actually responsible. Once again, the rich and powerful come out on top while a scapegoat is thrown to the wolves. Again, the scapegoats had it coming.
Robert Redford directs this intriguing biopic that stars John Turturro, Rob Morrow, and Ralph Fiennes in three stellar performances. John Turturro plays Herbie Stempel, the first big winner of Twenty-One who gets replaced by a fresh face. Stempel was in no way innocent, as he knew the show was fixed and complied in order to win huge sums of money. Still, it isn't fair that they gave him the shaft simply because he didn't appeal to fans. His replacement was Charles Van Doren, a literary genius from a wealthy family who became a national celebrity and was played magnificently by Ralph Fiennes. Van Doren isn't innocent either, for the same reasons as Stempel. The film tries to make you feel bad for him, but I simply didn't. The lawyer responsible for uncovering the scandal was Dick Goodwin, played by Rob Morrow. While he didn't quite steal the show, he certainly held his own among some heavy hitters and became someone to root for among a sea of frauds.
I think Quiz Show is an eye-opening inside look at how enormous corporations like NBC can escape a national embarrassment virtually unscathed. It's nothing short of disgusting and the final act of this film will really piss you off, provided you've been paying attention. This film is loaded with great performances, a well-written script, and a true story that you have to see to believe.