Wednesday 9 January 2013

Quiz Show [1994]

Robert Redford’s Quiz Show was a searing portrait of the changing socio-cultural patterns in the American landscape, and globally too, due to the growing influence of television. Based on real events, the film emphasized the moral bankruptcy caused as a result of unctuous executives bending over their backs to keep the advertisers happy and the rabid, shallow viewers glibly glued to the screen. When the head of the principal advertising firm (Martin Scorsese in a cameo) of the enormously popular NBC quiz show 21 instructs the show’s director to do away with Herbert Stampel (John Turturro), a neurotic Jewish man with a phenomenal memory and an abrasive personality, they fix his exit and replace him with Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), a young, suave and blue-eyed college professor with Ivy League education and rich familial lineage. Charles is everything that Herbert is not, and he becomes a celebrity overnight. Meanwhile a dogged Harvard law grad decides to investigate the television industry, and literally stumbles onto the fakeness of the quiz show and the calculated rigging that has turned Charles into an all-American hero. Redford did just enough manipulations of history, and added fair bit of tension, dramatizations, zeitgeist and scathing observations as to make this both an engaging film and one with the inherent ability to make its audience angry about capitalist sharks. However, apart from the excellent Turturro, the acting was average at best. The accents, in particular, seemed more phony than authentic. And, despite the realistic tone, the dialogues seemed too theatrical at times. But, that said, the film remains as an uncharacteristically incisive Hollywood production.

Director: Robert Redford
Genre: Drama/Docudrama/Social Satire
Language: English
Country: US

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