Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Rob Morrow, John Tuturro, David Paymer, Hank Azaria, Christopher McDonald, Mira Sorvino, Paul Scofield, Martin Scorsese
Directed By: Robert Redford
Plot: Based on the true story of the TV show Twenty-One and the scandal surrounding it. After Herb Stempel (Tuturro) is asked to take a dive, in favor of Charles Van Doren (Fiennes), he starts making a fuss about the show being rigged, which catches the attention of a federal lawyer (Morrow) who starts looking into the case.
What Works: To be fair, I’ve seen this film before. It has been at least 20 years though, and I barely remembered anything about the film. There were a few moments that I pieced together, sort of in a deja vu sort of way, but most of the film felt new to me. This felt like a 90’s movie to me, in the way the story is patiently structured. It is well directed by Redford, who manages to make an over two hour film entertaining the whole time. There are no extra scenes or shots. Nothing lingers. It is well-paced, each scene being important on its own, with some really good performances. What happened to Rob Morrow? He was really good, and now just does TV. When did he go from being a film star to a TV star?
What Doesn’t Work: While I don’t hold this against Quiz Show, it’s funny that Ralph Fiennes got so much notice for this performance. It’s early in his career, sure, but having immense hindsight, I think Fiennes has had many more, much better performances than Quiz Show. This just felt like a walk in the park. I’m kinda angry that Paul Scofield was the only nominated actor out of the group, when John Tuturro really did the best work in the film. Again, neither of these things actually affect the quality of the film, they are just reflections I’m able to have on a 23 year old film.
Final Word: If you haven’t seen Quiz Show, I’d definitely recommend watching it. Hopefully it won’t take me 20 years to watch it again. It’s a terrific film, and has definitely earned its place as a film “classic’.
Final Grade: A