Alternate Title: Don’t Believe Everything You See on TV
Based on a true story outlined by Dick Goodwin, Quiz Show tells of a trivia game show called Twenty One in the 1960s. Like all too much of what happens on TV, the story explains that Twenty One was rigged.
Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes) comes from a long line of successful scholars and intellects. While his name makes you want to hate him immediately, he’s actually a pretty charming guy. He decides to try out for Twenty One and becomes the poster child for the show practically overnight. Meanwhile, a bitter former contestant, Herbie Stempel (John Turturro) tells a committee hearing that he was supplied the questions and answers featured on the show ahead of time.
When Dick Goodwin (Rob Morrow) – a Harvard Law graduate still getting his lawyer sea legs starts looking closer at the hearing, he targets Van Doren. Though the two become fast friends, Dick is not convinced that his new friend Charlie didn’t get the questions and answers ahead of time too.
Quiz Show serves as a cautionary tale. Not only does it remind us that most of what we see on TV is total garbage, but it’s a gentle reminder that fortune and fame might not always be worth the cost of what you trade to get them. A compelling side story set agains the backdrop of the 1960s, Quiz Show will be relevant as long as there is television.
Now it’s Your Turn…
Quiz Show was nominated for Best Picture in 1994, but did the Academy get it right?