Sunday, May 8, 2011

Quiz Show

Robert Redford, 1994 (8.6*)
This, to me, is Robert Redford's best film realization as a director, largely because he presents the story without much judgment or sentimentality, leaving it up to the viewers.

This is a true story about the quiz show scandal of the late 50's, when, at the time, there were 28 quiz shows on network tv in prime time (!) The one offering the most money was "The $64,000 Question", in which guests went into a sound-proof booth and answered a question - if correct they doubled their previous winnings, if incorrect, they went home broke. At any point, they could retire and take their winnings rather than risk any more, up to a grand total of 64,000 dollars.

This particular part of the story involved a nerdy Jewish intellectual, Alfie Stempel, brilliantly played by John Turturro, who has been unchallenged until the show's producers find a wealthy American aristocrat, Charles Van Doren (Ralph Feinnes), from a prominent New England family, and they basically groom him to become an even bigger draw with the tv viewing public. Even back then tv was more about ratings and money for sponsors than about anything ethical, legal, or fair.

The supporting cast here is uniformly excellent. Rob Morrow, who left the successful tv series Northern Exposure to take a chance at a film career, plays a government investigator of tv awards show corruption, in a performance that is undemanding but well done. (His film career subsequently went nowhere).

 Even better is Oscar-winner Paul Schofield as the ultra-successful father of Charles van Doren. David Paymer is a producer of quiz shows, who thinks it nearly unpatriotic not to stack the deck. Johann Carlo is the principled wife of contestant Stempel. Other good actors in the cast include Hank Azaria (The Simpsons), Chris McDonald (Requiem for a Dream, Lawn Dogs), Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite, Beautiful Girls).

This is a fascinating subject, and it makes us all wonder if all tv quiz shows are rigged in some way, even today. I once saw a blonde babe lose on Hollywood Squares, then three days later the same woman with a different name lost on Jeopardy as well. She was obviously some actress filling a part they wanted: beautiful babes for the viewers, proving to be intellectual airheads. Note that one of the hosts involved in a rigged show was none other than Bob Barker, who continued in the genre until.. well, did he ever stop?


About Me

My photo
Artist, photographer, composer, author, blogger, metaphysician, herbalist

About This Blog

This is our new template: ProBlogger.

These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

Author at EZines

  © Blogger templates ProBlogger Template by 2008

Back to TOP