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Quiz Show (Buena Vista, 1994)

Quiz Show was a 1994 American historical drama that detailed the scandal of the 1950s quiz show Twenty One. Quiz Show was produced and directed by Robert Redford, and starred John Turturro, Rob Morrow and Ralph Fiennes.

The answers were to be sent to the TV studio from a secure bank vault. The reigning champion Herbert Stempel’s (Turturro) popularity was waning, so
the show’s producers find a new contestant in Charles Van Doren (Fiennes). They offer to rig the show so Van Doren can win, but he refuses. Instead they return to Stempel and tell him he needs to lose for the popularity of the show. Stempel agrees, but only as long as he gets to stay on TV. During the showdown, Van Doren wins as he’s supposed to. In the ensuing fame, Van Doren buckles to the pressure and begins to routinely rely on the producers to provide the answers, while Stempel loses his winnings and begins to threaten legal action when it becomes clear Stempel will not end up on TV in any other capacity. A young Congressional lawyer (Morrow) ends up investigating rumors of rigged game shows and grows to believe that Twenty One is indeed fixed.

Though critics loved the movie (it was nominated for four Academy awards!), audiences did not. The film’s limited release may be to blame, but its initial box office run in 1994 took in just under $25 million.

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