Quiz Show

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2 1/2

Content: -1 1/2

Robert Redford's latest film as director takes a look at the quiz show scandals of the 1950's. At a time when television was just starting to become a powerful force, there was nothing more popular than the quiz show, "21." Few people may remember Herbert Stempel (John Turturro) or Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), but they became national heroes as brilliant contestants on NBC's popular game show. Only later did the American public find out that the show was rigged and that both Stempel and Van Doren were given the questions beforehand. Richard Goodwin, who wrote the book on which the movie is based, was the prosecutor who uncovered the scandal. Goodwin is played with eager uprightness by Rob Morrow. The history itself is almost better than fiction. Stempel and Van Doren are complete opposites. Stempel, an unattractive and greasy character, is booted from the show in favor of the cultivated, educated and eligible Van Doren, an assistant professor at Columbia. Stempel becomes violently jealous and tries to blow the whistle on the show, but no one believes his angry ravings. When Goodwin becomes involved, he helps break the show's cover. QUIZ SHOW is a smart and sometimes funny look at the darker side of the American entertainment industry. Given its semi-documentary subject, it is a surprisingly entertaining movie for adults.

Really astonishing is the continual unveiling of the deceitfulness of the human heart. We see how easy it becomes to rationalize and justify the lying and coverup that continues on the show. We also discover people's tendency to believe lies from a respected, good-looking person rather than the truth from an unattractive, sleazy character. With detached irony, QUIZ SHOW ferrets out the pockets of hypocrisy found in all three main characters. The only disconcerting elements are foul language and a few sexual references. The several obscenities and profanities seem to be planted to earn the movie a more "adult" PG-13 rating. There is no nudity, violence or sexual situations. Above all, the movie chronicles the beginning of America's disillusionment with their heroes and hints at the overwhelming power television has to make us believe, even in lies. Goodwin puts it well after nothing changes at the end of the Senate hearings: "I thought we were going to get television. The truth is, I think television is going to get us."

Preview Reviewer: Greg Wilson
Buena Vista Distribution, 3900 W. Alameda Ave., Burbank, CA 91521

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (12) times - Mild 11, Moderate 1

Obscene Language: Several (7) times (f-word 2, s-word 5)

Profanity: Many (17) times - Regular 11 (G, G-d), Exclamatory 6

Violence: None

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times - references to intercourse

Drugs: None

Other: Good exploration of how people rationalize wrongdoing

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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