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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)
List Price: CDN$ 9.99
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Product Description

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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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Theatrical Trailer

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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 "They just wanted to watch the money." May 14 2004
Format:DVD
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Nov. 1 2006
Format:DVD
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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By Lawrance M. Bernabo HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
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 Shows" with Sid Caesar, and "I Love Lucy." However, during the Fifties television underwent monumental changes in terms of how shows were produced. There are two specific programs that represent the major changes. One is "Dragnet," which was the first successful series that was filmed in Hollywood and represented the shift away from live television broadcast from New York. The other is the CBS game show "Dotto," which was the first such show to be exposed as being rigged in 1958. It was not as successful as "The $64,000 Question," which was apparently run cleanly, or as infamous as "Twenty-One," which is the basis for the 1994 film "Quiz Show," but it was first. Because the quiz show scandal was driven by the greed of corporate sponsors, networks then began the practice of selling advertising time. No longer would a sponsor, such as Geritol, be able to decide what programs would go on the air.
However, Robert Redford's film is not really about the massive changes in the business of television that resulted from the quiz show scandals. The final word in this film is given to Dan Enright (David Paymer), the producer of "Twenty-One," who insists that because the show was entertainment and everybody made money, there was nothing wrong with giving contestants the answers and rigging the game. The point of this film is the human wreckage left behind by the scandal in terms of the two "Twenty-One" contestants at the center of the storm.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, A Movie Of Uncompromising Integrity July 4 2003
Format:DVD
How many times have you seen this disclaimer at the end credits: "The story depicted in this motion picture is based on actual events. However, certain characters and incidents were added for dramatic effect."
What the filmmakers are telling us here, folks, is that without these added elements, the movie would be downright boring. See, if we tell it like it is, we won't make money.
Director Robert Redford and screenplay writer Paul Attanasio would have none of that. They chose to chronicle the events leading up to the quiz show scandal of the late 1950s without the embellishments that have become so much a part of Hollywood tradition. For that alone, they deserve the highest praises. But what makes Quiz Show a cinematic marvel is its ability to keep the viewer involved while remaining unerringly faithful to the facts.
John Turturro and Ralph Fiennes turn in career performances as contestants who at first benefit from, but later become victims of a system that dictates that ratings are more important than moral integrity. Turturro plays Herb Stempel, the annoying Jew who at first makes for an appealing underdog but soon wears out his welcome, and so has to take a "dive." Fiennes is Charles Van Doren, the handsome, clean-cut Ivy Leaguer who is seen as the worthy replacement and goes along with the deception, only to soon find himself in over his head but unable to just walk away.
Equally impressive is the supporting cast: Rob Morrow as Congressional investigator Richard Goodwin, Hank Azaria and David Paymer as the quiz show's manipulative producers, and Paul Scofield as Van Doren's ever-supportive but unaware father. Also exceptional, but easy to overlook in the glow of the all-star cast, are Johann Carlo as the unsophisticated, non-intellectual but nonetheless faithful Mrs.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best American movies of all time
I know the title of my review seems hyperbolic, but truly this is an essential American story, beautifully told. Read more
Published on Dec 24 2011 by Roxy
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting story of a scandal
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... Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2010 by Kona
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 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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