Quiz Show Reviews
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.
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.
Superbly acted and it shows that Robert Redford, as director, is exceedingly talented too. Thought provoking, enthralling and enjoyable.
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.