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Quiz Show (Bilingual)

Ralph Fiennes , John Turturro , Robert Redford    PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
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Product Description


This vigorously entertaining film, sharply directed by Robert Redford from Paul Attanasio's brilliant screenplay, is based on the game-show scandals of the 1950s, when TV quiz shows were rigged to attract higher ratings and lucrative sponsorships. The fact-based story focuses on the quiz show Twenty-One and popular contestant Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), a charming, well-bred intellectual who agreed to win the game by using answers supplied by the show's producers. This unfair advantage turned Van Doren into a prototypical media darling at the expense of reigning Twenty-One champion Herbie Stempel (John Turturro, in a bravura performance), a working-class Jewish contestant who, according to the show's sponsors, had worn out his welcome in the public eye. When a congressional investigator (Rob Morrow) catches on to the scam and Stempel blows the whistle on this backstage manipulation, Quiz Show becomes a smart, political exposé about the first generation of television, the corrupting effect of celebrity and success, and the ongoing loss of innocence in American society. Bristling with superior dialogue and energized by an excellent cast including Paul Scofield as Van Doren's morally upstanding father, Quiz Show succeeds as history lesson, intelligent thriller, and morality tale, setting the stage for the countless scandals that would follow in a nation addicted to television. --Jeff Shannon

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Nov. 1 2006
I only saw this film recently, twelve years after it was released. I was expecting a good film, but what I got was a great one. The story sounded like it would be interesting, but watching this movie is no dry intellectual journey. You find yourself totally absorbed as with a well-crafted thriller. No character is black and white, and people make decisions for complex reasons in a very complex situation. There are no clear-cut heroes and villains, and you will find yourself wondering what you would have done in the same situation, whether you might have been willing to tell a few white lies to make people happy, and ultimately realise you'd made a deal with the devil which you couldn't step away from at any point without huge embarrassment and serious consequences, to others as well as to yourself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "They just wanted to watch the money." May 14 2004
Ah, the good ol' Fifties. The time when, after decades of depression and war, people finally wanted to get on with their lives, rebuild the economy and sweep everything dark and dirty under a big rug (including the escalating arms race with the Soviet Union). When television was everybody's new best friend, and ruled by the likes of Ed Sullivan, Lassie, Bozo the Clown and Lucy ... and by quiz shows.
Well aware of the contests' new, uniquely thrilling live entertainment, studio executives and sponsors quickly capitalized on their appeal, eager to maximize the resulting profits. To that end, however, the shows' outcome couldn't be left to chance: Then as now, viewers were looking for the "right" kind of hero to identify with; so ultimately it was unthinkable to let someone like Herbert Stempel (John Turturro) - not only an annoying nerd with thick glasses and bad teeth but worse, an annoying *Jewish* nerd with thick glasses and bad teeth - win the famous "Twenty-One" for more than a couple of weeks. A more suitable replacement was found in Columbia University lecturer Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), descendant of one of New England's foremost intellectual families and, in the words of the show's co-producer Albert Freedman (Hank Azaria), soon the TV nation's new "great white hope." A brilliant intellectual who nevertheless felt eternally inferior to his Pulitzer Prize-winning father, poet Mark Van Doren (Paul Scofield), his mother (Elizabeth Wilson), likewise a distinguished author, and his uncle, Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Van Doren, Charles ultimately agreed to sell his integrity for a high flight to fame and fortune on borrowed wings, and thus succumbed to the one force driving a quiz show's appeal more than anything else: money, and astronomically large sums thereof.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best American movies of all time Dec 24 2011
By Roxy
I know the title of my review seems hyperbolic, but truly this is an essential American story, beautifully told. [Incidentally, the fact that in 1994, Forrest Gump won the best picture Oscar, and not Quiz Show, Pulp Fiction, The Shawshank Redemption or Four Weddings and a Funeral demonstrates the worthlessness of those awards, which evidently prefer telegenic fools to intelligence, verve, drama or comedy.]

In Quiz Show, the cinematography is exquisite, the editing is perfect, the direction interesting and on-point. The characters are archetypes, yet credible and humanized, with unique peculiarities that make them real and relevant.

Father-son relationships are an obsessive motif in American film, but Quiz Show manages to tell one of the most affecting father-son relationships since Gene Hackman and Melvyn Douglas in I Never Sang for my Father. Ralph Fiennes and Paul Scofield are devastating.

Quiz Show is undeniably entertaining -- some of the early scenes are reminiscent of the college scenes in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, for instance, and the quiz show moments are suspenseful and simply amusing -- but it is also an essential tale about idealism (the American dream) and corruption, facile fame and thankless work, and navigating an ethical middle ground between the two. In discussing current events, I often quote one of the last lines in the film,

"See, I don't think an adult of your intelligence ought to be commended... for simply, at long last, telling the truth."

A marvellous movie to see (and own) and view often.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting story of a scandal Nov. 1 2010
The year is 1957, and everyone in America is watching the popular TV game show, "Twenty-One." Contestants can stay on the show for weeks, earning then-astronomical sums of money and becoming household names. Such was the case for Herbert Stemple (John Turturro), a buck-toothed, blue-collar guy who raked in the money. Little did the public know that the show was entirely scripted and that Herb was told the answers in advance. When Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes) a bright, attractive college instructor came on the show, the producers decided it was time for Herb to lose; he did and Van Doren became the biggest thing on television, even making the cover of Time Magazine. But he and the show were no match for Congressional watchdog Dick Goodwin (Rob Morrow) who exposed the show for the fraud that it was.

I was really surprised at how exciting this movie was. It's got humor and drama and is filled with tension. Fiennes portrays Van Doren as a witty, charming Connecticut Yankee from an influential family. We care about him and suffer with him as he prepares to confess his part in the fraud not only to Congress, but to his trusting father. Turturro's Herbie is a fascinating, naive, greedy man whose life was ruined by the show. Morrow is excellent as the whistle-blower.

The movie is a wonderful look back at a time when we as a people were so much more trusting and innocent. This scandal rocked the nation and changed us forever. This is a great movie.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Robert Redford's morality play about the quiz show scandal
The first era of prime-time television programming was the Vaudeo Era, which was defined by shows like "The Texaco Star Theater" with Milton Berle, "Your Show of... Read more
Published on April 17 2004 by Lawrance M. Bernabo
5.0 out of 5 stars Sure, Redford can act, but can he direct?
The answer to that question, is a resounding "yes". The fact is that "Quiz Show" is, to my mind, one of the finest depictions of the television industry, 50's... Read more
Published on July 22 2003 by Nabih B. Bulos
5.0 out of 5 stars Sure, Redford can act, but can he direct?
The answer to that question, is a resounding "yes". The fact is that "Quiz Show" is, to my mind, one of the finest depictions of the television industry, 50's... Read more
Published on July 22 2003 by Nabih B. Bulos
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, A Movie Of Uncompromising Integrity
How many times have you seen this disclaimer at the end credits: "The story depicted in this motion picture is based on actual events. Read more
Published on July 4 2003 by Ariel Escasa
5.0 out of 5 stars Slick America Exposed
The movie starts out with one of the main characters poised in a 1957 brand new Chysler as a car salesman schmoozes the man into believing things that he really wants to believe,... Read more
Published on May 30 2003 by James Hiller
4.0 out of 5 stars Shocking then, tame now
The most shocking American scandal of the late 1950s was the revelation that the top-rated game shows on television -- especially NBC's "Twenty One" -- were rigged to provide... Read more
Published on Feb. 22 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars A bare bones DVD of a good movie
This is the Robert Redford's best movie in my opinion. He does a great job with the period and the gets a great cast led by Ralph Fiennes to tell a personal story of Quiz Show... Read more
Published on Feb. 3 2003 by "johntchance"
5.0 out of 5 stars Quiz Show is exceptionally good, and that's my final answer
Quiz Show is a remarkably good film, presenting in vivid detail an important if disillusioning piece of Americana. Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2003 by Daniel Jolley
5.0 out of 5 stars Many Symbols
This is a great film on so many levels...dialogue, performances, cinematography, editing...all supporting the central metaphor of the quiz show scandals as a watershed event,... Read more
Published on Dec 6 2002 by Doc Sarvis
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