Quiz Show (1994)
A scrutinizing delve into the childhood years of television, at a time when the power of the medium wasn't quite appreciated by the general public, and when a lack of critical thinking allowed for naïve feelings of awe and sensation when subjected to the medium, but also a lack of judgement when it came to potential dangers. The stories of Herb Stempel and Charles Van Doren are brilliant examples of how the ethic line can be too deceitful and blurred to be able to balance well – especially when nobody has been there to establish the rights and wrongs for you in advance.
Robert Redford's film is full of insight and thought-provoking contradictions. It is a film of old-fashioned craft, meaning that it has some of the quiz show traits itself, but also meaning that it goes out of its way when it comes to thoroughness and genuine belief in the power of the story. Redford makes his film remarkably narrative, especially compared to what one would expect from a film adaptation of the much-publicised quiz show scandals of the late 1950s, but even more impressive is how he understands and visualizes the complex mechanisms behind it all – not just on a corporate level, but also on a personal one.
Redford's love for this carefree period of time in history is apparent and charming. A period that in many ways ended with the quiz show disclosures – one of the first real blows to the credibility of mass media. It is all conducted with brilliant command by Redford, and the result is completely absorbing from start to finish. Magnificent performances, especially by Fiennes, Turturro and Scofield, are the icing on this memorable cake.
To his wife complaining about the lack of
attention she's getting