Quiz Show (1994) / Drama
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for some strong language
Running Time: 133 min.
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Rob Morrow, John Turturro, Paul Scofield, David Paymer
Director: Robert Redford
Screenplay: Paul Attanasio (based on the book, "Remembering Amrica: A Voice from the Sixties", by Richard N. Goodwin)
Review published May 11, 1998
In the 1950s, quiz shows are all the rage and none is bigger than the juggernaut "Twenty-One", which is so popular that appearing on it can make almost anyone an instant celebrity across the country. Things seem less than peachy for the show when a young Congressional lawyer (Turturro, Jungle Fever) receives some information that this highly rated quiz show is being rigged by its producers, who are providing the answers beforehand and boost their ratings. The lawyer befriends Charles Van Doren (Fiennes, Schindler's List), the reigning champ and America's hottest commodity, and Van Doren must come to grips whether destroying the lives of many involved and the trust of the public is worth the efforts of seeking truth.
Quiz Show was nominated for Best Picture in 1994, and the lion's share of credit goes to director Robert Redford (A River Runs Through It, Ordinary People), who deservedly received the Oscar for Best Director, for creating a wholly engrossing film based on true events that occurred in the Fifties. His directing is so engaging, one could almost wish that he weren't such a great actor as every film he has ever made is excellent.
The impressive ensemble of actors turn in brilliant performances, and the script by screenwriter Paul Attanasio (Sphere, The Sum of All Fears), based on a book by Richard N. Goodwin, is full of great writing and moments of serious insight. It's a shame that it came out during the same year as The Shawshank Redemption, Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump,, as the quality would have made it a serious contender in almost any other year.
Quiz Show is fascinating and thought-provoking entertainment, and another gem in the Redford oeuvre.
©2013 Vince Leo