macleans.ca: TIFF 2012: Robert Redford is back in the director’s chair.
This one was adapted from a memoir (that’s a book) by Richard Goodwin, which chronicled the 1950s Twenty One quiz show game fixing scandal. Here’s a fun fact: Rob Morrow was handpicked for his part because Redford liked him so much on Northern Exposure, maybe the best television show in the history of the world. It was well-received and garnered four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Quiz Show (1994) - In the mid 1950s, working-class Jew Herb Stempel (John Turturro) is the reigning champion of a popular TV quiz show called “Twenty One,” and it appears no one can beat him. Thinking the public’s grown bored with Stempel, the show’s producers try to persuade him to leave, then hatch a scheme to stack the odds towards Stempel’s latest challenger, the cultured, telegenic Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes). Tackling the quiz-show scandals that rocked the days of early television, Redford’s intelligent, absorbing drama digs into the murky ethics of mass-media entertainment. Turturro and Fiennes are both excellent, playing antagonists whose ethnicity is as much a concern to image-conscious programmers as their smarts. Paul Scofield won an Oscar for his turn as Van Doren’s patrician father, while Rob Morrow is memorable as a Boston attorney who helps Turturro blow the whistle. Quiz Show remains one of cinema’s best meditations on our tricky dealings with the almighty tube.