“Quiz Show” provides interesting insight into the Twenty One quiz show scandal that occurred in the 1950’s. Director Robert Redford’s recreation dramatizes these events and preserves the simplicity of this time period for the next generation. We have seen a renaissance of game shows thanks to the “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” phenomenon and the subsequent rise of reality-based programming, but “Quiz Show” captures the fascination with trivia and knowledge in pre-Google America. It also transports us into a time of morality where the idea of a reality show being scripted or rigged was foreign to trusting audiences. The film itself moves fairly slow but it builds enough curiosity about the story’s resolution that we anxiously anticipate the ending. The best part of this film is John Turturro. He often plays character roles which makes him perfect as Herb Stempel. It would be easy to look like a bad actor in this purposely mundane role but Turturro’s unique voice and appearance make the character interesting while the delivery is appropriately boring. Ironically, Ralph Fiennes plays a slightly more interesting character but his delivery comes off as boring. Rob Morrow brings the necessary energy to the detective role to advance the film and Christopher McDonald has the right look to be a game show host. The film earned several Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Paul Scofield, though the latter is more likely based on his reputation than his actual performance. Overall, I don’t see “Quiz Show” as a film worthy to be represented at the Oscars but I appreciate the story and the preservation of this important television scandal.
[Pictured: The film is well-cast and well-acted but just lacks the spark that I expect from an Oscar nominee]