Quiz Show (1994)

Quiz Show (1994)

Quiz Show



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

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 … More

Rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Paul Attanasio
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 6, 2001
Buena Vista Internationa


as Herbert Stempel

as Charles Van Doren

as Dick Goodwin

as Mark Van Doren

as Dan Enright

as Albert Freedman

as Toby Stempel

as Dorothy Van Doren

as Robert Kintner

as Sandra Goodwin

as Chairman

as Lishman

as Account Guy

as Dave Garroway

as Student in Classroom...

as Pennebaker

as Childress

as Lester Stempel

as Car Salesman

as Kintner's Secretary

as Cornwall Cousin

as Passerby

as Mrs. Nearing

as Limo Driver

as NBC Page

as NBC Page

as Professor At Book Pa...

as Enright's Secretary

as Freedman's Secretary

as Director

as Associate Director

as Lighting Director

as Cornwall Neighbor

as Cornwall Aunt

as Cornwall Cousin

as Cornwall Cousin

as John Van Doren

as Mrs. John Van Doren

as Bunny Wilson

as NBC Secretary

as Thomas Merton the Mo...

as Congressman Devine

as Congressman Rogers

as Congressman Flynt

as Congressman Springer

as Congressman Mack

as NBC Employee

as Congressman Derounia...

as Professor at Book Pa...

as Professor at Book Pa...

as Writer At Book Party

as Woman At Book Party

as Student at book part...

as Judge Schweitzer

as Librarian

as Snodgrass

as Barnard Girl

as Barnard Girl

as Queens Neighbor

as Queens Neighbor

as Queens Neighbor

as Queens Neighbor

as Today Announcer

as Reporter

as Woman At Door

as Psychoanalyst

as NBC Secretary

as Challenger

as Stage Manager

as Crew Member

as Reporter No. 1
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Quiz Show

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Critic Reviews for Quiz Show

All Critics (54) | Top Critics (15)

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

Full Review… | November 8, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top 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.

Full Review… | July 3, 2007
Denver Post
Top Critic

Perfectly pitched, the film brims with insight and wit. Highly recommended.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Mr. Redford has made a rich, handsome, articulate film about a subject truly worth talking about.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

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
Top Critic

Outstanding drama about morals and our choices.

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
Common Sense Media

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.

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.

Spencer S.

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.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

Quiz Show Quotes

– Submitted by Jayathra L (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Chad E (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Chad E (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Chad E (3 years ago)

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