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Quiz Show is a 1994 American historical drama film produced and directed by Robert Redford. Adapted by Paul Attanasio from Richard Goodwin's novel Remembering America, the film tells the true story of the Twenty One quiz show scandal of the 1950s. It stars John Turturro, Rob Morrow, Ralph Fiennes, Paul Scofield, David Paymer, Hank Azaria, and Christopher McDonald.[1][2]

The film chronicles the rise and fall of the popular contestant Charles Van Doren after the rigged loss of Herb Stempel and the Congressional investigator Richard Goodwin's probe of Twenty One's game-fixing. Goodwin co-produced the film.


תבנית:Plot The story follows the events surrounding television's quiz show scandals of the 1950s, focusing on the intertwining stories of three men. They are the clean-cut All-American intellectual Charles Van Doren, the boisterous, unpolished ex-GI Herbert Stempel and the idealistic Congressional lawyer assigned to investigate Twenty One, Dick Goodwin.

It begins with Goodwin admiring a brand new Chrysler, wondering aloud if the pursuit of money and material goods is what truly matters most in 1950s America. The scene switches to a new episode of the NBC television game show Twenty One and follows the quiz questions as they are taken from a secure bank vault into a television studio. Studio producers Dan Enright and Albert Freedman watch from the control booth as host Jack Barry prepares for the show.

The evening's main attraction is Queens resident Herbert Stempel, who is the reigning Twenty One champion. Stempel answers question after question, even after the producers order the air-conditioning turned off in his enclosed booth and he begins to sweat profusely. But word filters down from show sponsor Geritol all the way to Enright—Stempel is old news. The sponsor wants a new champion.

Stempel returns home to find his neighborhood turned out to congratulate him. He remarks to his wife, Toby, that he might go on doing the show forever. Enright and Freedman, meanwhile, search for a contestant to defeat Stempel, one who embodies the All-American image they've been looking for. They find one in Columbia University instructor Charles Van Doren, son of the renowned poet and intellectual Mark Van Doren and the prize-winning novelist Dorothy Van Doren.

Van Doren is American royalty, sophisticated and accomplished enough to provide the hero to Stempel's unkempt, uncouth alternative. Despite trying out for a different quiz show, Van Doren is talked into doing Twenty One. Enright and Freedman promise he can advance the cause of American education. They subtly offer to rig the show for him but the upright Van Doren refuses.

Enright soon treats Stempel to dinner at an upscale restaurant, where he breaks the news that, because of flagging ratings, Stempel must lose. He protests and it is revealed that Enright has provided him with the answers to questions. At the very least, he wants Enright to keep a promise that Stempel will be offered other TV opportunities beyond the quiz show.

The two contestants square off on Twenty-One. Both perform admirably during the first few rounds. Late in the game, Stempel still leads by a score of 18–10. He then selects the category Movies, for three points, which would put him at 21 and win the game. It is at this point he is offered the question Enright ordered him to deliberately miss: "Which motion picture won the Academy Award for 1955?"

Knowing the correct answer -- Marty, one of his favorite movies—Stempel wrestles with his conscience. Finally, conceding to the network's plan, he gives an incorrect answer (On the Waterfront).

Van Doren is then given a chance to win and is asked a question he previously answered while in Enright's offices, one the producers know he will get right. Van Doren also wrestles with his conscience but answers correctly. He is the new champion.

In the weeks that follow, Van Doren rises to national stardom. He appears on the covers of Life and Time, becomes a celebrity on campus at Columbia and is recognized everywhere he goes. He wins show after show, being called "Professor" by the host, and his clean-cut image produces a newfound interest in education around the country. Buckling under the pressure, he begins to let Enright and Freedman feed him the answers.

Stempel sinks back into relative obscurity. He has blown his sizable TV winnings on questionable business ventures and begins threatening legal action against the NBC network after Enright reneges on his previous offer of a spot on a panel show.

Dick Goodwin, first in his class at Harvard Law, travels to New York to investigate rumors of rigged quiz shows. Visiting a number of contestants including Stempel and Van Doren, he begins to get a sneaking suspicion that Twenty One is indeed not on the level, although he doubts a man of Van Doren's background and intellect would be one of those involved.

Stempel is a volatile personality and nobody else seems to corroborate that the show is rigged. Goodwin enjoys the company of Van Doren, who treats him to a dinner at his parents' estate and invites him to his weekly poker game. Van Doren's scholarly parents are proud of him, even though the world of television is a mystery to them.

The claims of Stempel take on new significance when he confesses to being in on the fix himself, much to the shock and disappointment of Toby, his wife. Stempel further insists that if he got the answers in advance, Van Doren did as well.

With the pressure mounting, Van Doren deliberately loses to challenger Vivian Hearing—much like Stempel, on a question he knew the answer to—but is rewarded with a sizable contract from NBC to appear as a special correspondent on the Today show promoting culture. He will earn over $50,000 from the show.

Goodwin, meanwhile, proceeds with the hearings before the House Committee for Legislative Oversight. A former Twenty One contestant named James Snodgrass has supplied him with proof of the show's corruption. Upon receiving the questions and answers, this man mailed them via registered post to himself before the show was filmed.

Before he leaves, Goodwin strongly advises Van Doren to avoid making any public statements supporting the show. If he agrees to this, Goodwin promises not to call Van Doren to appear before the Congressional committee investigating the scandals.

Goodwin argues with his wife, Sandra, over whether he has a responsibility to bring Van Doren to justice. Van Doren remains seduced by fame and fortune. At the prompting of Robert Kintner, the network's head, Van Doren issues a statement reaffirming his trust in the honesty of the quiz show.

The loose-lipped Stempel testifies before Congress and while doing so implicates Van Doren as being in on the fix. Goodwin is forced by the committee to call in Van Doren, who shamefully admits his guilt to his father.

Goodwin believes he is on the verge of a victory against Geritol and the network, but instead realizes that Enright and Freedman will not implicate their bosses in the conspiracy and jeopardize their own futures in TV.

Consumed by guilt, Van Doren goes before Congress and publicly admits his role in the conspiracy. Afterward he is told by reporters of his firing from the Today show by NBC and the university's decision to ask for his resignation.

Stempel, vindicated at long last, finds himself sympathizing with Van Doren, the man he helped to bring down. Goodwin remains stone-faced as he watches Enright and Freedman testify that their sponsors and NBC had no knowledge of any quiz-show corruption.


The film is the first תבנית:Clarifymajor picture based on the 1950s controversy that rocked American television and nearly led to the ruination of quiz-show producers Jack Barry (who was also Twenty One host and here played by McDonald) and Dan Enright (Paymer). Its attention to period detail include using New York exteriors to re-create 1950s scenes and using many New York and New Jersey indoor spaces to replicate the NBC studios and Washington governmental facilities of the times. Fordham University was used to replicate the 1950s Columbia University, where Van Doren taught English.

Historical comparison[]

While the movie purports to portray real events, it has been widely criticized for taking liberties to create its own heroes and villains. The movie has investigator Goodwin starting his pursuit of Van Doren during the contestant's 1956-1957 run on Twenty-One, when in fact the Congressional investigation led by Goodwin came in Summer 1959. Others have complained that it inflates Goodwin's role in the probe and underplays the initial investigation, led by prosecutor Joseph Stone from the office of New York County District Attorney Frank Hogan.

It was after Judge Mitchell Schweitzer sealed from public release the New York grand jury presentment of findings in the probe (in June 1959) that Congress launched its investigation. The movie also suggests that Schweitzer was in cahoots with the producers of Twenty-One despite no evidence of any connection between the two.

The movie implies that NBC conveyed to Enright the desires of Twenty-One sponsor Geritol that Stempel be replaced, with network president Bob Kintner (played by Allan Rich) telling Enright "You're a producer, Dan. Produce." Neither Kintner nor NBC was ever implicated in the scandal and NBC cancelled the show when it heard about the scandal, but Enright claimed before his death that Geritol's complaints about the lack of drama and suspense in the unrigged premiere episode prompted the company to rig the show.

The movie shows Van Doren's win was directly because of Stempel's dive; although the question shown in the movie was the one that Stempel was supposed to take a dive on (even though he knew the correct answer), it did not end the game immediately, instead going on for another tie game and ending later in the show. The episode in which Stempel was defeated (which sent the ratings to a great high after Van Doren's win) aired December 5, 1956 as the thirteenth episode of the series – an ironic coincidence, given standard network practice of ordering only 13 episodes of a new television show and letting the ratings decide whether a renewal is warranted.

The movie shows emcee Jack Barry slightly recoiling when a contestant, James Snodgrass, answers correctly instead of incorrectly on a question he was supposed to take a dive on; Barry, Enright's business partner and co-producer, was never implicated in rigging the show but covered up for Enright once he found out. In addition, Monty Hall had replaced Barry as host in early 1958 and was still hosting when the scandal broke.

The movie does not acknowledge the rigging practices of other 1950s quiz shows – the most prominent among them being The $64,000 Question, Dotto, and Barry-Enright's own Tic-Tac-Dough.

Journalist Ken Auletta, in a 1994 article in The New Yorker, noted that at a screening of the film that summer, Redford admitted that, like most fact-based dramatizations, "dramatic license" was taken in making Quiz Show. But Auletta also reported that Redford made no apologies for the liberties, saying he had tried "to elevate something so that people can see it...otherwise, you might as well have a documentary." Redford noted there had already been a documentary on the scandal, referring to the Julian Krainin-produced work for a 1991 installment of the PBS series The American Experience. (Krainin, like Goodwin, was a co-producer of Quiz Show.)

In a July 2008 edition of The New Yorker, Charles Van Doren writes about the events depicted in the film, agreeing with many of the details but also saying that he had a regular girlfriend at the time he was on Twenty One. In the film depiction he does not. He also notes that he continued teaching, contrary to the film's epilogue which states he never returned to doing so.[3]


Actor Role
Hank Azaria Albert Freedman
Johann Carlo Toby Stempel
Griffin Dunne Account Guy
Ralph Fiennes Charles Van Doren
Paul Guilfoyle Lishman
Michael Mantell Pennebaker
George Martin Chairman
Christopher McDonald Jack Barry
Rob Morrow Dick Goodwin
David Paymer Dan Enright
Harriet Sansom Harris Enright's Secretary
Allan Rich Robert Kintner
Paul Scofield Mark Van Doren
Martin Scorsese Martin Rittenhome
Mira Sorvino Sandra Goodwin
John Turturro Herb Stempel
Elizabeth Wilson Dorothy Van Doren
Neil Ross Twenty-One Announcer


The Film was very well received. It has a 96% rating from Rotten Tomatoes, and a 100% top critics.[4] Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 3-and-a-half stars out of four, calling the screenplay "smart, subtle and ruthless."[5] Web critic James Berardinelli praised the "superb performances by Fienne," and said "John Turturro is exceptional as the uncharismatic Herbie Stempel."[6]


Quiz Show was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Robert Redford), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Paul Scofield) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Paul Attanasio). }}

External links[]

  • "Quiz show", במסד הנתונים הקולנועיים IMDb (באנגלית)


Quiz Show is a 1994 which tells the true story of the Twenty One quiz show scandal of the 1950s. The film chronicles the rise and fall of popular contestant Charles Van Doren and Congressional investigator Richard N. Goodwin's probe of the show's game-fixing.

Directed by Robert Redford. Written by Paul Attanasio, adapted from Richard N. Goodwin's book "Remembering America : A Voice From the Sixties".
Fifty million people watched, but no one saw a thing.

Charles Van Doren[]

  • I would give almost anything I have to reverse the course of my life in the last year. The past doesn't change for anyone, but at least I can learn from the past. I have learned a lot about life. I have learned a lot about myself and about the responsibilities any man has to his fellow men. I have learned a lot about good and evil — they are not always what they appear to be.

    I was involved, deeply involved, in a deception. I have deceived my friends, and I had millions of them. I lied to the American people. I lied about what I knew and then I lied about what I did not know. In a sense, I was like a child who refuses to admit a fact in the hope that it would go away. Of course it did not go away. I was scared, scared to death. I had no solid position, no basis to stand on for myself. There was one way out, and that was simply to tell the truth.

    It may sound trite to you, but I have found myself again after a number of years. I've been acting a role, maybe all my life, of thinking I've done more, accomplished more, produced more than I have. I've had all the breaks. I have stood on the shoulders of life and I have never got down into the dirt to build, to erect a foundation of my own. I have flown too high on borrowed wings. Everything came too easy. That is why I am here today.

Herb Stempel[]

  • Charles Van Doren — he wouldn't know the answer to a doorbell if you didn't give it to him.
  • This week on Twenty-One, watch Herb Stempel be fed to the Columbia lions. Watch Charles Van Doren eat his first kosher meal on Twenty-One.
  • [To a reporter outside the Congressional hearing room] You know what the problem with you bums is? You never leave a guy alone unless you're leaving him alone.

Dick Goodwin[]

  • I remember five-six years ago my uncle Harold told my aunt about this affair he had. It was a sort of mildly upsetting event in my family... The affair was over, something like eight years. So I remember asking him, "Why did you tell her? You got away with it." And I'll never forget what he said. It was the getting away with it part that he couldn't live with.


  • Mark Van Doren: For $64,000, I hope they ask you the meaning of life.
  • Martin Rittenhome: You see, the audience didn't tune in to watch some amazing display of intellectual ability. They just wanted to watch the money.
  • Rep. Derounian: Mr Van Doren, I'm also from New York, a different part of New York. I'm happy that you made the statement, but I cannot agree with most of my colleagues. You see, I don't think an adult of your intelligence ought to be commended for simply, at long last, telling the truth.


Dick Goodwin: He told me this whole story about when a Jew is on the show, he always loses to a Gentile, and then the Gentile wins more money. I mean, who could dream up a scheme like that? [laughs]
Dan Enright: [laughs] A symptom of his Van Doren fixation!
Dick Goodwin: The thing of it is, I looked it up: it's true.

Dick Goodwin: I have Enright cold — and sir, that means I have you.
Robert Kintner: Really?
Dick Goodwin: Really.
Robert Kintner: Then why are you the one that's sweating?

Dick Goodwin: Don't treat me like I'm a member of your goddamn fan club. Are you telling me everybody got the answers but you?
Charles Van Doren: You're so persistent, Dick. You know, I really envy you that.
Dick Goodwin: Was it just the money, Charlie?
Charles Van Doren: You'll forgive me, but anyone who thinks money is ever just money couldn't have much of it.
Dick Goodwin: Charlie, you want to insult me, fine; but you can't envy me at the same time.
Charles Van Doren: Jesus, Dick, if someone offered you all this money to be on some rigged quiz show, instant fame, the works, would you do it?
Dick Goodwin: No. 'Course not.
Charles Van Doren: No? Throw the whole thing in, the cover of Time, Dave Garroway, $50,000 a year to read poetry on television — would you do it?
Dick Goodwin: No.
Charles Van Doren: And I would?

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