Quiz Show


Quiz Show

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 55


Audience Score

User Ratings: 31,551
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Movie Info

These days Television game shows are strictly regulated to ensure that no cheating or discrimination goes on behind the scenes. But it has not always been so. "Quiz Show" tells the story of the discrimination, pay-offs, and resulting cover-up behind the scenes of "Twenty One," the most popular intellectual game show in 1958. The trouble begins when the show's producer Dan Enright pays winning contestant Herbie Stempel, a Jewish graduate student from Queens, to lose in favor of Columbia literature instructor Charles Van Doren, a handsome, intellectual WASP who came from one of the U.S.'s most distinguished families. Enright then persuades Van Doren to allow his staff to provide Van Doren with the answers before each show. Van Doren becomes a national hero and a champion for intellectualism. Enter Dick Godwin, a Harvard graduate working for the House-sub committee on Legislative Oversight. He suspects a fraud and goes looking for proof. He finds it in Stempel who finally admits that he was paid to lose. Thus the scandal erupts.


John Turturro
as Herbert Stempel
Ralph Fiennes
as Charles Van Doren
Rob Morrow
as Dick Goodwin
Paul Scofield
as Mark Van Doren
David Paymer
as Dan Enright
Hank Azaria
as Albert Freedman
Johann Carlo
as Toby Stempel
Elizabeth Wilson
as Dorothy Van Doren
Allan Rich
as Robert Kintner
Mira Sorvino
as Sandra Goodwin
George Martin
as Chairman
Griffin Dunne
as Account Guy
Barry Levinson
as Dave Garroway
Ethan Hawke
as Student in Classroom (uncredited)
Michael Mantell
as Pennebaker
Ben Shenkman
as Childress
Joda Hershman
as Lester Stempel
Ernie Sabella
as Car Salesman
Debra Monk
as Kintner's Secretary
Mario Cantone
as Passerby
Shawn Batten
as Cornwall Cousin
Grace Phillips
as Mrs. Nearing
Jerry Grayson
as Limo Driver
Scott Lucy
as NBC Page
Matt Keeslar
as NBC Page
Hamilton Fish IV
as Professor At Book Party
Harriet Sansom Harris
as Enright's Secretary
Mary Shultz
as Freedman's Secretary
Dave Wilson
as Director
Robert Caminiti
as Associate Director
Eddie Korbich
as Lighting Director
Le Clanche Du Rand
as Cornwall Neighbor
Carole Shelley
as Cornwall Aunt
Shawna Batten
as Cornwall Cousin
Cornelia Ryan
as Cornwall Cousin
Jeffrey Nordling
as John Van Doren
Gina Rice
as Mrs. John Van Doren
Pat Russell
as NBC Secretary
Vince O'Brien
as Bunny Wilson
Adam Kilgour
as Thomas Merton the Monk
Richard Seff
as Congressman Devine
Bill Moor
as Congressman Rogers
Nicholas Kepros
as Congressman Flynt
Barry Snider
as Congressman Springer
Chuck Adamson
as Congressman Mack
Joseph Attanasio
as Congressman Derounian
Steve Ryan
as NBC Employee
Dan Wakefield
as Professor at Book Party
Hamilton Fish III
as Professor at Book Party
Merwin Goldsmith
as Writer At Book Party
Illeana Douglas
as Woman At Book Party
Gretchen Egolf
as Student at book party
Stephen Pearlman
as Judge Schweitzer
Anthony Fusco
as Librarian
Douglas McGrath
as Snodgrass
Calista Flockhart
as Barnard Girl
Alysa Shwedel
as Barnard Girl
Kelly Coffield Park
as Queens Neighbor
Dede Pochos
as Queens Neighbor
Maria Radman
as Queens Neighbor
David Stepkin
as Queens Neighbor
Steve Roland
as Today Announcer
Joe Lisi
as Reporter
as Woman At Door
Neil Leifer
as Psychoanalyst
Pat Russel
as NBC Secretary
Bill Cwikowski
as Challenger
William Fichtner
as Stage Manager
Vincent J. Burns
as Crew Member
Richard Council
as Reporter No. 1
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Critic Reviews for Quiz Show

All Critics (55) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (53) | Rotten (2)

Audience Reviews for Quiz Show

  • Apr 12, 2016
    "Twenty-One" was a popular game show on NBC from 1956 to 1958 and at times would beat the popular CBS comedy "I Love Lucy." The show's popularity skyrocketed when Columbia professor and intellectual Charles Van Doren started his winning streak that won him $129,000. His fame gained him a job on NBC's "The Today Show" and the cover of Time magazine. He had to beat reigning champion Herb Stempel, a Jew from Queens who worked for the city of New York. Stempel was asked to take a dive because viewers just didn't like him. NBC and Pharmaceuticals, Inc. weren't making as much money with Stempel as the champion, so Van Doren, the clean-cut "All-American Boy" was the answer. Stempel was going to be asked "What won Best Picture in 1955?" and he was supposed to answer "On the Waterfront," but the thing is, he knows the answer is "Marty." Stempel loves the movie "Marty" and had seen it three times. Stempel is promised another gig in television by producer Dan Enright, but when this doesn't materialize, Stempel tells everyone who would listen that the quiz show is rigged. Eventually, a House Committee for Legislative Oversight into rigged quiz shows is prompted by Richard Goodwin. Goodwin finds out from Stempel that he was fed the answers prior to the show and coached into how to make it more dramatic. This film by Robert Redford released in 1994 was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. Despite there being no real action, Redford is able to create suspense in the game show scenes. Ralph Fiennes plays Charles Van Doren and throughout the picture you feel sympathy for this character. John Turturro plays Herb Stempel and really creates a feeling that this guy is just a know-it-all schmuck from Queens and although Tom Hanks in "Forrest Gump" won the Best Actor award that year, Turturro should have been nominated. Paul Scofield plays Mark Van Doren, Charles's dad, in an Oscar nominated performance.
    Joseph B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 31, 2016
    Based on the true story of corruption within 50's America game shows. This focuses on Twenty One, a popular NBC program at the time and how they were telling contestants the answers beforehand to help boost ratings. Superbly acted and it shows that Robert Redford, as director, is exceedingly talented too. Thought provoking, enthralling and enjoyable.
    Ian W Super Reviewer
  • Jul 07, 2013
    This is a film that is surrounded with talent. We have Ralph Fiennes and John Turtrro starting, who are both talented actors. Despite hardly sharing the screen, they have an unexplainable chemistry. Then we have a director Robert Redford, who's also holder to the spectacular family drama Ordinary People. Attanasio is the writer who later works with Tarantino to create Jackie Brown. The film also has genius cinematographer Michael Ballhaus. This film is by no means wasted talent, but it feels close to Oscar Bait for me. The plot had little creative talent. This is based on a true story, but I found the ending predictable, and the movie rarely had me guessing. The one intense was the question about the 1955 Oscars, but other than that there wasn't much to awe at. The film does create enjoyable characters, and does a good job of bringing the audience back to the fifties.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Aug 15, 2012
    With strong performances from turturro and fiennes, Quiz show is a great film that has lasted the test of time.
    paul o Super Reviewer

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