Quiz Show

Mellow, Engaging Drama

Main Cast: Ralph Fiennes, John Turturro, Rob Morrow, David Paymer

Director: Robert Redford

Quiz ShowA drama played out very realistically, this movie focuses on a quiz show in the 1950’s. Think of it as a wildly successful precursor to Jeopardy!, or any other question-and-answer game show aired since fire was invented. This show does have a problem: it’s so bent a pretzel would be jealous!

A slave to ratings, the champions are fed answers and kept around as long as they are popular (and the sponsor likes them). Once they fall from grace, however, they are dropped like yesterday’s dinner. This happens to Herbert Stempel (Turturro), eased off the show by a bundle of cash. He is replaced by the charismatic Charles Van Doren (Fiennes). Stempel is angry, however, and takes his beef to Congress. Nothing seems to be done, at least for a while, until a young up-and-comer named Dick Goodwin (Morrow) senses something is wrong with the show and pushes for further investigations.

The movie switches between Goodwin’s detective work and Van Doren, who grows more and more uneasy about the fakery he is forced to do. He lies, but also brings in the bucks. The movie is quite skillful in character development and plot, not forcing anything, and utilizes real-world situations (of course played a bit more dramatically). Nice and taut, brisk and engaging, it’s worth your time and a worthy addition to your drama library.

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