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Quiz Show (1994)

Fifty million people watched, but no one saw a thing

Directed by:

Robert RedfordRobert Redford

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 133 minutes

UK Certificate: 15


There was a time when game show cheating comprised of a little more than strategically-placed coughing. That time, according to the fantastic ‘Quiz Show’, was the 1950s – a period in time when, believe it or not, the manipulation and humiliation of members of the public for the sake of TV ratings was regarded as unusual.

This strangely engrossing portrayal of the controversial US quiz show scandals is historical in nature (real names, of both companies and individuals, are used), but it’s also grounded firmly in entertainment thanks to the skilled direction of Robert Redford and several stand-out performances from the cast.

John Turturro is Herb Stempel, the Jewish ‘everyman’ turned into a national celebrity by his amazing run of success on the NBC show ‘Twenty-One’. Herb’s world comes crashing down around him when ratings begin to slump and the network – having previously fed him the answers – convince him to take a dive. College academic Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes) is the man who takes over, reluctantly allowing himself to be sucked into the hoax and ending up a cheat himself. But the secret looks destined to come out when congressional investigator Dick Goodwin (Rob Morrow) gets a whiff of foul play and sets about exposing the network bigwigs responsible. Unfortunately, he soon discovers that they’re not the ones he’ll be hurting.

David Paymer and Hank Azaria are excellent as the pair of producers seen to be fronting the scandal, whilst Turturro and Fiennes are clever choices for the pair of contestants who seldom come into contact with each other during the movie but each end up both victims and perpetrators of at the same time.

There’s a strong moral ‘what would you do?’ hook to the plot, most notably in the empathy Redford builds for the Van Doren character. It’s the placing of blame, rather than the issue of whether cheating is right or wrong, that really makes the film work.

It's Got: Christopher McDonald – a.k.a. Shooter McGavin – as the smarmy quiz host.

It Needs: An improved DVD package – otherwise you might as well just catch it next time it’s on TV. That’s if you think you can trust that particular medium.

DVD Extras Disappointingly, there aren’t any. DVD Extras Rating: 0/10


All The President's Men


An intelligent, thought-provoking and highly watchable look at one of the biggest scandals in TV history.

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