Quiz Show - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Quiz Show Reviews

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½ December 2, 2016
3.5/5. It kept me intrigued until the end, but I kept thinking that it was dragging on. A great story and great acting, nonetheless.
November 22, 2016
A riveting film about the dirty truth behind the rigged quiz shows, and the lengths the network went to in order to keep it under wraps. Phenomenal performances by John Turturro, Rob Morrow and Ralph Fiennes.
½ October 27, 2016
Quiz Show is a rarity in films based on a true story, because it never feels like the filmmakers are trying to adapt the history in order to make a more dramatic movie. In fact, my biggest complaint about the film is that there are no real surprises and it feels a bit flat and lacking in heart. But the presentation of the events seems authentic and I love this behind the scenes look at how corruption can tempt even the most honest of men. Perhaps if they had framed the entire movie around the story of Charles Van Doren it would have been more grounded in emotion, and drama. Instead they kind of split the movie's focus between Charles Van Doren, Herbert Stempel, and Dick Goodwin. Each of them did play a significant role in the history of this scandal, so I don't have a problem with them being a major player, but the way we spend time getting to know all three of them separately makes Quiz Show feel more like a documentary than a dramatic film. The cast was brilliant almost completely across the board. I particularly loved what David Paymer and Hank Azaria did as TV executives working on the show, and Christopher McDonald was perfection as the TV personality hosting the show. I remembered enjoying Quiz Show more when I saw it 20+ years ago, but this time it didn't impact me as much because I knew what was coming. Because the script is more event-driven rather than character-driven, knowing the film takes away most of the excitement of watching.
October 16, 2016
I can never tire of this movie.
October 16, 2016
As an old school game show fan I think I held this to a higher standard and Robert Redford met them all. A fantastic cast matches the true to life story of the quiz show cheating scandals of the 1950s. It's a piece of history depicted to near perfection.
October 14, 2016
Just watched this movie again. I can't believe I first saw this movie when I was 10 years old! Great acting, well written, and captivating. This movie is a classic.
½ October 6, 2016
With a fine cast, strong direction, and important questions about morality in the presence of money, Robert Redford's "Quiz Show" is a taut, entertaining dramatization of the scandal surrounding NBC's quiz show "Twenty One."
½ October 1, 2016
Not a single bad performance!
August 16, 2016
Perfectly acted, beautifuly scripted and richly directed, Quiz Show makes the viewer think about choices and moral fiber; represented by a real historic event.
August 11, 2016
Captures the rise of television as part of the political-industrial complex in a way that few are able to see clearly now.
½ July 3, 2016
A pretty simple story that is really dragged out in this film. TV executives rig a quiz show to ensure that the contenders suit the target market. This was a scandal at the time but nobody would bat an eyelid these days; it goes on so much it's pretty much accepted.
June 17, 2016
Dramatizing possibly the biggest scandal in television history, "Quiz Show" shows what people will do for the sake of money and ratings.
May 5, 2016
Shining Light on the Darkness of Television Scandals-"Quiz Show" Movie Review

The movie "Quiz Show" is a pseudo-documentary following the course of a television scandal where the popular 50s game show "Twenty-One", a show where contestants were asked to answer a set of questions only the most intellectually proficient of individuals would be able to answer with the goal of accumulating twenty-one points, is examined judicially. This suspense evoking nail-biter of a film exploits NBC's greatest scandal in an artistic and tasteful manner!
Initially, Charles Van Doren, played by Ralph Fiennes, does a fabulous job at executing the role of a guilty bread winner. Throughout the film, Ralph Fiennes demonstrated a high amount of proficiency in upholding his emotional connection to his role. There is honestly nothing bad to be said about Ralph Fiennes' execution of the character of Charles Van Doren. He displayed strength and consistency throughout the entire film as well as showing the audience just how well he can tap into his emotions to convey his feelings through a character in a fictional setting. Moreover, John Turturro, the actor who played Herb Stempel (the scapegoat of the film) also did an equally outstanding job of playing his role of the underdog to jewish hero! He was comical, he was insane, and he added a touch of "Hollywood" to a role that could potentially come across as brash and annoying; a true star! He managed to make the role of Herb Stempel relatable to anyone who has been used as a pawn in life and he did it all with style.
The themes of Anti-Semitism and the seductive quality of stardom were particularly well developed and thought out. After ratings plateau and Herb Stempel was kicked off of the show, he was subject to discrimination by the judicial system that claimed he was mentally unstable; likewise, NBC did not uphold their promise to give him his own platform show after being forced to lose his round on the game show to Charles Van Doren. Furthermore, Charles Van Doren found himself slowly being seduced by his hunger for fortune and fame when he starts to play along with NBC's shenanigans. Charles Van Doren allowed NBC to deceive the public into thinking he was the be-all end-all when it came to scholars even though he never won a single round on the show without being fed answers. Foreshadowing was something that was not taken lightly in this film, it was done in many ways each just as subtle as the next. My personal favourite was when Charles Van Doren was walking down the winding staircase, the scene was shot from a crane angle foreshadowing his succumbing the evil of show business, as well as foreshadowing his slow and painful downfall from hero back to zero.
Overall, the movie was delivered in a user friendly fashion that appeals to a vast audience; there was something for everybody. There was a insane yet humorous Jewish game show reject to amuse the children, while the adults were entertained by some corporate corruption! All-in-all the film was an accurate representation of a famous NBC scandal and the production crew did a fabulous job at making it an accessible topic for the general public to enjoy and appreciate for years to come.
Super Reviewer
April 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.
Super Reviewer
½ January 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.
½ January 27, 2016
Fair, although I remember it felt better when first watching back then.
January 19, 2016
Robert Redford refracts the sociopolitical and moral issues posed by the subject material through a purely entertaining, well-acted lens.
January 2, 2016
Fairly interesting but the main character is just awful and boring. One that could of been a classic but falls short.
December 10, 2015
Smart, Subtle and Ruthless

A historically accurate and entertaining film, Robert Redford's Quiz Show is about the lies and deceit of reality television back in the 1950's when it first started. The movie follows NBC's quiz show "Twenty-One" and how the public discovered that the show was in fact rigged. The two main characters are Herbie Stempel, an awkward, Jewish contestant who is unbeatable but is pressured by NBC executives, Dan Enright and Albert Freedman, to lose to attractive and charismatic, Columbia professor, Charles Van Doren who come from a notable family. The plot progress with Richard N. "Dick" Goodwin trying to uncover the truth behind the quiz shows.

At it's core the Quiz Show is an unflinching, remorseless examination of the American people. Charles Van Doren is willing to cheat in hopes of receiving attention from his father and when he fails to do so he settles for the attention of the American people. Herbie Stempel is socially inept, making him shunned from other that he was willing to cheat for fame and recognition. Recognition of the fact that he was very intelligent, intelligence which he prided himself on. Richard Goodwin is a naive, newly graduated law student who thinks that the law would bring justice to the unjust and corrupt system of reality television. Dan Enright and Albert Freedman are businessmen down to their core, selling a product. That product being reality television. For the reality television wasn't about providing recognition to those who deserved it but selling the idea of money to the american people. They knew people watched the shows for the money and not for the questions, so instead of making the show about knowledge they made it about gaining the most viewers b providing viewers with the most interesting contestants. The motives behind each of these characters makes them very real and relatable to the audience, making viewers care about them and the plot. The whole movie in general was very real, the setting of 1950s America was very accurate and besides a few minor details the events were accurate. In general, the actors did phenomenal jobs portraying their characters, most notably Ralph Fiennes rendition of Charles Van Doren and David Paymer portrayal of Dan Enright, but at times John Turturro's depiction of his character Herbie Stempel felt like a caricature.

Paul Attanasio's screenplay is witty, smart, subtle yet ruthless, utilizes the power of foreshadowing and full of memorable dialogue. Despite it's failure in the box office, it's a critically acclaimed movie that is a must see for all.
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