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Movie Review

During the ’50s, TV quiz shows ruled the airwaves. But in 1959, a scandal erupted that challenged the integrity of the entire genre: Certain contestants on NBC’s Twenty-One were getting the answers in advance. Quiz Show, a 1994 best-picture nominee with a brilliant ensemble cast, is an excellent account of that period in television history. It’s also an entertaining character study.

This true story focuses on three key players: Herb Stempel (John Turturro), one-time champion of the rigged game show who blew the whistle after the producers forced him to take a dive; Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), who unseated Stempel and captured national attention, only to disgrace his family name when found guilty of cheating (a lesson straight from Proverbs 22:1); and Richard Goodwin (Rob Morrow), the government investigator obsessed with exposing the network’s guilt.

Supporting characters are equally interesting. Biographical snapshots contain lessons about integrity, pride, jealousy, trust, compromise, morality and greed. No violence. No nudity. No sex. A perfect movie? No.

Despite its rich, morally relevant personality profiles, Quiz Show has one blemish. This otherwise outstanding motion picture includes nearly a dozen inappropriate uses of the Lord’s name, five s-words and an outburst punctuated with the f-word.

Families reluctant to navigate such language still have one lifeline: television. When Quiz Show airs on network TV, parents can watch, record and study it with teenagers. It’s well worth the wait!

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