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Quiz Show

Quiz Show (1994)



Average Rating: 8.2/10
Reviews Counted: 53
Fresh: 51 | Rotten: 2

Robert Redford refracts the sociopolitical and moral issues posed by the subject material through a purely entertaining, well-acted lens.


Average Rating: 8.2/10
Critic Reviews: 14
Fresh: 14 | Rotten: 0

Robert Redford refracts the sociopolitical and moral issues posed by the subject material through a purely entertaining, well-acted lens.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 30,218

My Rating

Movie Info

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



Paul Attanasio

Mar 6, 2001

Buena Vista Internationa

Watch It Now



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All Critics (54) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (51) | Rotten (2) | DVD (9)

Robert Redford's best and richest directorial effort...

November 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Redford turns a dry subject into high art, matching the achievements of his other directing efforts in Ordinary People and A River Runs Through It.

July 3, 2007 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
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Perfectly pitched, the film brims with insight and wit. Highly recommended.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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Mr. Redford has made a rich, handsome, articulate film about a subject truly worth talking about.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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What Redford is saying isn't new, but it has rarely been said in a mainstream movie with this kind of passion.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
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Crisply directed by Redford from a thought-provoking script by Paul Attanasio, and featuring a slew of strong performances.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Outstanding drama about morals and our choices.

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Both dramatically and historically important with fine turns by Fiennes and Turturro, directed by Redford.

March 23, 2008

This is an outstanding drama that provides an excellent opportunity for examining the way that people make moral choices.

November 17, 2007

Acutely observed, beautifully performed, lovingly directed media morality tale that resonates far beyond its 1950s setting.

November 8, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

It's a blessedly old-fashioned, well-made and well-acted narrative...

November 8, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Redford's best film to date is a poignant examination of pop culture, TV, greed, and race relations in American society of the 1950s, with perfect casting of John Turturro, Ralph Fiennes, and particularly Paul Scofield.

July 27, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

...Redford manages to build quite a snowball of drama in all of this, full of heroes and antiheroes...

January 19, 2006 Full Review Source:

Gripping, compelling, absorbing ... yeah, all those adjectives and more, This is a great movie.

April 3, 2005

Robert Redford does a superb directing job.

June 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A marvelous performance by Ralph Fiennes.

January 12, 2004 Full Review Source: | Comment (1)

One of the greatest American films. Compelling scandal and heartbreaking victims.

August 11, 2003

Boring movie about the most dull scandal in the history of television.

August 10, 2003 | Comments (4)

As a pure period piece Quiz Show delivers beautifully, but Redford's foursquare, documentary-like approach, however artful, unspools a story with about as much drama as a game show itself.

May 20, 2003
Palo Alto Weekly

A quietly powerful take on innocence lost, its lessons apparent every time we turn on the television.

March 28, 2003
Flipside Movie Emporium

Quiz Show' is a uniquely American tragedy, told with subtlety and complexity.

March 23, 2003 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Robert Redford's assurded true story about quiz show corruption is totally engrossing, with genius performances from Ralph Fiennes and John Turturro.

February 13, 2003
Sunday Times (Australia)

Audience Reviews for Quiz Show

With strong performances from turturro and fiennes, Quiz show is a great film that has lasted the test of time.
August 15, 2012
paul o.
paul oh

Super Reviewer

Based on true events that transpired during NBC's rise to prominence with televised quiz shows in 1958, Quiz Show is an enrapturing tale of television gone wild and its tendril influence on the American population. Though Quiz Show doesn't shine an infracted light on television and the corruption and lack of regulation directly, it does raise a lot of questions about what we're willing to believe in order to stay entertained. In an era that caters to the Kardashian clan and other reality blights; this film draws a lot of parallels to modern situations and even predicts our nation's complacency in forms of television that are neither true nor lacking in debilitation. Though quiz shows in the fifties didn't hurt anyone and lent to education, they were also based on enjoyment of the American public, therefore only letting who they wanted win based on biased beliefs. The story covers a rigged game and the prominence of Charles Van Doren, an instructor at Columbia who was supplied the answers, winning a considerable amount of money while selling the product Geritol and giving the show Twenty-One high viewership. The film is very emotional and brings up the questions of what is truth, what are the public being led to believe in order for big wigs to win out financially, and should we trust the box in our living rooms over what we know to be true. Though it's an amazing story and a turning point in advertising taking over television and influencing all new forms of media, it's the tension over the investigation that keeps this film thrilling. Ralph Fiennes is the intellectual pretty boy, a role that he was born to play, and though he usually grates on my nerves, here he is neither condescending nor problematic to the rest of the story. The casting of the entire film was spot on. Rob Morrow as the investigating government agent who likes Van Doren but also has to bring down all the people around him was perfect, with his easy accent and intense scrutiny of the indiscretion around him. Turturro does irritate like a bothersome gnat, while also being pitiful and naïve. This film is so sickeningly good it makes me cringe to think about everything yet it's also so important. Certainly my favorite Redford directed film.
December 28, 2011

Super Reviewer

An under-rated gem of the 90's that features outstanding performances from its ensemble cast, and a sensational gutting and ravaging of the television industry concerning a popular 50's quiz game show and the internal corruption of how the studio has certain contestants fix matches. Robert Redford's fantastic detailing of his characters and plot keeps this thing clicking at a fast pace, and thanks to fine turns from John Turturro (as a bitter ex-contestant who is intent on bringing the studio down after they wrongfully deceive him), Ralph Fiennes (as a hot-shot college professor who can not be beaten), and Paul Scofield (as Fiennes very accomplished, caring father) this story is anchored masterfully all the way to its end. The only thing it is really missing is the dramatic punch its finale sets us up for, but being that Redford is aiming for subtlety, I can understand why he decided to not potentially overplay his cards. Overall, a fantastic exercise in moral dilemmas and the seedy underbelly of the television industry, even at its seemingly rich, innocent beginnings.
September 18, 2011
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

A dramatization of the quiz show scandal of the late 1950s involving contestants being fed answers on the popular program "Twenty-One", "Quiz Show" is a well-made, entertaining film with an all-star cast. But it's not much more than that. The film is able to capture the viewer's attention for a couple hours and hold it there, and for that it should be commended, but the theme it tries to drive down throughout the film just doesn't ring true in modern day. The film's anti-television message works well in the time period in which the film is set -- the late 1950s -- but not when the film was actually made, 1994, or especially now. Without a doubt, it's an entertaining, intriguing, well-made film, and it's certainly worthy of the Academy Award nominations it earned, but there's no "wow factor" to the film.
August 14, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Charles Van Doren: I would give almost anything I have... to reverse the course of my life in the last year. The past doesn't change for anyone. But at least I can learn from the past. I've learned a lot about life. I've learned a lot about myself... and about the responsibilities any man has to his fellow men. I have learned a lot about good and evil. They're not always what they appear to be.
    – Submitted by Jayathra L (2 years ago)
    1. Woman At Book Party: Now there's a face for radio.
    – Submitted by Chad E (2 years ago)
    1. Dick Goodwin: It was the getting away with it part that he couldn't live with.
    – Submitted by Chad E (2 years ago)
    1. Dick Goodwin: Beauty is truth; truth beauty. That is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know.
    – Submitted by Chad E (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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