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Quiz Show

Quiz Show

4.8 5
Director: Robert Redford

Cast: John Turturro, Rob Morrow, Ralph Fiennes


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It's 1958, and the producers of the quiz show 21 have a problem. Their current champ, Herbert Stempel (John Turturro), has a phenomenal memory and a broad range of knowledge. He's also a pudgy loudmouth with a grating personality, so Herbert is encouraged to "take a dive" and allow Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), a handsome and charming college professor, to


It's 1958, and the producers of the quiz show 21 have a problem. Their current champ, Herbert Stempel (John Turturro), has a phenomenal memory and a broad range of knowledge. He's also a pudgy loudmouth with a grating personality, so Herbert is encouraged to "take a dive" and allow Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), a handsome and charming college professor, to become the show's new champion. Audiences like Van Doren, and he's certainly not averse to the money he's winning, but the ethics of the situation begin to trouble him, especially when the show's producers begin to give him the questions in advance. Director Robert Redford and writer Paul Attanasio paint a telling portrait of how the network heads and advertising men who manipulated the quiz shows were also able to manipulate the responsibility for the scandal away from themselves. While on the surface a story about the scandal itself, Quiz Show is just as importantly about a turning point in the 1950s when TV and advertising began to change American character and culture.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
A neatly executed look at the nature of scandal in the early days of television, and a rich portrait of America in the 1950s, Quiz Show is as sleek and deceptively complicated as the era it portrays. The quiz show scandal becomes a microcosm of attitudes and values in 1950s America, from deep-seated ethnic prejudices to the preoccupation with class and appearance. Dense, ferociously intelligent, and never condescending, the film is also terrifically entertaining, as director Robert Redford and writer Paul Attanasio weave together multiple stories of ambition, cowardice, and disappointment. The film is also notable for its performances, especially John Turturro's self-deprecating yet self-righteous Stempel, and Ralph Fiennes' charming but tragically flawed WASP prince Charles Van Doren. Both actors perfectly convey the kind of ambition that was simultaneously encouraged and manipulated by game show politics, as well as the resulting desperation. Through their performances we see the tensions of an era, the struggle between appearance and reality, success and artifice. Quiz Show was nominated for 4 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor for Paul Scofield's unforgettable scenes as Van Doren's pained patrician father.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Walt Disney Video
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital Surround]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Theatrical trailer; French-language track; Dolby Surround; Widescreen [1.85:1]

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
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
Martin Scorsese Sponsor
Barry Levinson Dave Garroway
Michael Mantell Pennebaker
Byron Jennings Moomaw
Timothy Busfield Fred
Jack Gilpin Jack
Bruce Altman Gene
Ernie Sabella Car Salesman
Debra Monk Kintner's Secretary
Grace Phillips Mrs. Nearing
Eddie Korbich Lighting Director
Carole Shelley Cornwall Aunt
Shawn Batten Cornwall Cousin
Jeffrey Nordling John Van Doren
Vince O'Brien Edmund "Bunny" Wilson
Bill Moor Congressman Rogers
Nicholas Kepros Congressman Flynt
Barry Snider Congressman Springer
Chuck Adamson Congressman Mack
Hamilton Fish Professor At Book Party
Merwin Goldsmith Writer At Book Party
Illeana Douglas Woman At Book Party
Stephen Pearlman Judge Schweitzer
Anthony Fusco Librarian
Kelly Coffield Queens Neighbor
David Stepkin Queens Neighbor
Bernie Sheredy Reporter
Joe Lisi Reporter
Reno Woman At Door
Neil Leifer Psychoanalyst
Pat Russell NBC Secretary
Bill Cwikowski Challenger
William Fichtner Stage Manager
Ethan Hawke Student (uncredited)
Douglas McGrath Snodgrass
Richard Council Reporter #1 (uncredited)
Gretchen Egolf Student at book party
Steve Ryan NBC Employee

Technical Credits
Robert Redford Director,Producer
Paul Attanasio Screenwriter
Michael Ballhaus Cinematographer
Florian Ballhaus Camera Operator
Richard Dreyfuss Executive Producer
Tim Galvin Production Designer
Richard N. Goodwin Co-producer
Jon Hutman Production Designer
Sharon Ilson Makeup
Mark Isham Score Composer
Michael Jacobs Producer
Judith James Executive Producer
Julian Krainin Producer
Stu Linder Editor
Tod A. Mailand Sound/Sound Designer
Bernadette Mazur Makeup
Jeff McCracken Co-producer
Susan Moore Associate Producer
Gail Mutrux Co-producer
Michael Nozik Producer
Kathy O'Rear Costumes/Costume Designer
Lydia Dean Pilcher Production Manager
Joseph P. Reidy Producer
Gary Rydstrom Musical Direction/Supervision
Samara Schaffer Set Decoration/Design
Bonnie Timmermann Casting
Frederick Zollo Executive Producer

Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Chapter Selection
1. Program Start [:12]
2. Opening Credits [:12]
3. "Twenty-One" On Air [5:19]
4. A Problem With Stempel [5:19]
5. At Home With The Stempels [:10]
6. Just An Idea [:10]
7. Asked To Take A Dive [2:54]
8. A New Champion [4:40]
9. Celebrity/Angry Loser [3:48]
10. Stempel Sees Enright [7:13]
11. "TV Quiz Inquiry Sealed By Judge" [5:53]
12. Lunch At The Athenaeum [6:40]
13. Goodwin Sees Stempel [2:48]
14. Connecticut Visit [2:50]
15. Goodwin Sees Enright & Freedman [8:33]
16. Stempel Fesses Up [4:45]
17. Poker Game [2:58]
18. Father-Son Talk [7:33]
19. At Mr. Kintner's Office [:41]
20. Changing Of The Guard [2:24]
21. Man To Man [4:01]
22. Subcommittee Calls Herb Stempel [3:10]
23. Kintner Sees Van Doren [6:03]
24. Goodwin And The Sponsor [1:23]
25. A Subpoena For Van Doren [9:29]
26. Dad Finds Out The Truth [5:23]
27. Van Doren Testifies [4:17]
28. A Raucous Scene [3:47]
29. Enright Testifies [4:44]
30. End Credits [1:45]

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Quiz Show 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Superb movie delving on the issue of corporate America's evils and to what extent it will stoop in order to make money.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i stumbled upon this movie after researching the quiz show scandals of the '50s. the first time i watched the movie i was impressed, but it took me the second time to fully comprehend everything. it's *wonderful* how robert redford put so much detail into this movie. i found out that after the show where Van Doren had beaten Stempel, Stempel overheard someone say 'i'm glad we got a clean cut individual other than a freak with a sponge memory' and that was in the movie. the copyright of where i researched that was before the date of the movie. i was impressed! it just goes to show the extent of corporate america and how far they'll go for money. this is an excellent movie!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great preformances are given by a terrific cast. Paul Scofield and Ralph Fiennes are especially wonderful as father and son. Thought provoking and often moving, Quiz Show is a winner!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago