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Searching for Bobby Fischer

Searching for Bobby Fischer

4.5 9
Director: Steven Zaillian

Cast: Joe Mantegna, Max Pomeranc, Joan Allen


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Searching for Bobby Fischer was inspired by the life of chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin, as written by his father Fred Waitzkin. Josh (Max Pomeranc) is a "regular kid" who begins evincing signs of being a genius at chess. His father (Joe Mantegna) encourages this, hoping that it won't fundamentally change his son's healthy outlook on life. But Josh is taken under


Searching for Bobby Fischer was inspired by the life of chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin, as written by his father Fred Waitzkin. Josh (Max Pomeranc) is a "regular kid" who begins evincing signs of being a genius at chess. His father (Joe Mantegna) encourages this, hoping that it won't fundamentally change his son's healthy outlook on life. But Josh is taken under the wing of cold-blooded chess instructor Bruce Pandolfini (Ben Kingsley), who indoctrinates the boy in the "Bobby Fischer" strategy. Unfortunately, Pandolfini emphasizes all of Fischer's negative traits, especially his contempt for his opponents. Josh is in danger throughout the film of sacrificing his essential decency, but in a rousing conclusion, the boy is able to successfully blend ruthless competition with good sportsmanship.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jason Clark
An extraordinary examination of child genius and all that comes with it, this stirring first directorial effort by ace screenwriter Steven Zaillian succeeds by simply letting everything in the movie's compositions speak for itself. Chess would not initially appear to be the most cinematic of events, but Zaillian and masterful cinematographer Conrad L. Hall find an enticing visual means of representing not only the sport, but also the emotions of its richly drawn characters. Every time the film threatens to become yet another routinely uplifting melodrama about child prodigies, it surprises with its effortlessly decent and moving, yet unsentimentalized, assuredness. Max Pomeranc is remarkable as the young protagonist, subtle and genuinely childlike, and Joe Mantegna has perhaps his most accomplished role to date as his protective and loving father. Even the "final showdown" manages to eschew convention, as the film is more interested in how it affects the people involved than in manipulating the viewer. Overall, the film is a glorious achievement, reminiscent of Steven Spielberg's early work in its triumphant exploration of young minds and the promise they hold.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Paramount (Pmt)

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Joe Mantegna Fred Waitzkin
Max Pomeranc Josh Waitzkin
Joan Allen Bonnie Waitzkin
Ben Kingsley Bruce Pandolfini
Laurence Fishburne Vinnie
Michael Nirenberg Jonathan Poe
Robert Stephens Poe's Teacher
David Paymer Kalev
Jared Harris Actor
Avy Kaufman Actor
Shelley Winters Actor
Hal Scardino Morgan
Vasek Simek Russian Park Player
William H. Macy Tunafish Father
Dan Hedaya Tournament Director
Laura Linney School Teacher
Anthony Heald Fighting Patient
Steve Randazzo Man of Many Signals
Josh Mostel Chess Club Regular
Tony Shalhoub Chess Club Member
Austin Pendleton Asa Hoffman
Tom McGowan Reporter
Vincent Smith Washington Square Patzer
Jerry Rakow Washington Square Patzer
William Colgate Statistician
Tony de Santis Journalist
R.D. Reid Final Tournament Director
Anthony McGowen Park Dealer
Maria Ricossa Gym Parent
Caroline Yeager Screaming Mom

Technical Credits
Steven Zaillian Director,Screenwriter
David Lee Sound/Sound Designer
Walter Gasparovic Asst. Director
Linda Gill Makeup
Tony Gittleson Asst. Director
David Gropman Production Designer
Conrad L. Hall Cinematographer
Bob Hall Special Effects
Burtt Harris Asst. Director
William Horberg Producer
James Horner Score Composer
Robert Jones Editor
Gregory Keen Art Director
Sydney Pollack Executive Producer
Scott Rudin Producer
Steve Shewchuk Set Decoration/Design
Wayne Wahrman Editor
Julie Weiss Costumes/Costume Designer
David Wisnievitz Co-producer


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Searching for Bobby Fischer 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Something about this movie just makes me watch it over and over everytime i saw it on tv i loved it, think im gonna buy it,The movie just rocks plain and simple
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you love drama, you'll love this movie. If you are a ''chess buff'' like me, you'll love it even more. Whoever said this isn't a 5 star movie, is plain dimwitted. You get to see the struggles and triumphs of a young prodigy as he is beginning to just grow up. If you know anything about the Josh Watskins or Bobby Fischer, this movie will mean a heck of a lot more to you. The cinematography by itself ranks this movie on the all time best directed movies. If you've never spent the time to see this movie, you've been missing out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found Searching for Bobby Fischer to be an excellent film, and have watched it over and over. The casting was well done, and the performance that each gave was awesome. I recommend this video as excellent family viewing. Well DONE!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film is not for chess buffs, but anyone that likes a great humanistic story. It is a universal story that treats it's subject and characters with intelligence; in other words it is not a Hollywood product. The whole cast is superb, with another standout performance by Ben Kingsley as the 'teacher'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Quite simply, this movie is a classic. It is one of the few movies made in the last 10 years that you can truly call "inspiring." I often find that that axiom is cynical in a misleading way. Not this movie. A clarion call for all those that try to vacilitate their kids into their own vicarious longings, it really shows the downside of recent trends in sports. Josh Waitzkin is a compelling child, who happens to be a brilliant yet regular 7 year old in New York City. One of the greatest endings is also in the movie as Waitzkin defeats his nemesis. Heartwarming and I mean that.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Es una pelicula que nunca olvidaras, inspira la competencia, el amor padre e hijo, la inocencia de un niño de 7 años y las lecciones de la vida. Muestra la relacio de maestro alumno en un grado sublime, no menosprecia la enseñanza fortuita y el amor por la vida misma
Guest More than 1 year ago
A film about a brilliant chess prodigy that happens to be in most cases a normal seven-year-old. Shows the vicarious leanings have with their kids and how that puts pressure on the kids.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well for starters Bobby Fischer himself doesn't get anything out of this movie,so producers are thieving...story is lame and references to Fischer style are wrong(ask the man himself, he's still alive you know!).so if you really wanna find out about Fischer go to his site fischer.jp even for his books he doesn't get anything out of the thieveing publishers...so stop the thieving and try and apply some Justice in the land of freedom.