Quiz Show (Remastered) (1994)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 11-Sep-2003

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 127:22 (Case: 131)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:43) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Robert Redford

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring John Turturro
Rob Morrow
Ralph Fiennes
Paul Scofield
David Paymer
Hank Azaria
Christopher McDonald
Johann Carlo
Elizabeth Wilson
Allan Rich
Mira Sorvino
George Martin
Paul Guilfoyle
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Mark Isham

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Fifty million people watched, but no one saw a thing.

    1994 was a year that offered some truly memorable films and none more so than this directorial effort from Robert Redford. Quiz Show was among the five nominees for Best Picture at the 1995 Academy Awards, along with some other truly exceptional pieces of cinematic excellence. Consider, along with this film, some of the other nominees; Four Weddings and A Funeral, Pulp Fiction, and The Shawshank Redemption as all possible worthy winners. But none of those fine films came home with the main award. In what I consider one of the most absurd Oscar decisions ever made, the piece of total rubbish about a dim witted American (Forrest Gump) took home the prize. I still don't understand what all the fuss was about that film (like the guy was a dim wit - so what?). Anyway, some really decent films missed out on some of the big awards that year and Robert Redford's Quiz Show, which was nominated for four Academy Awards and took home none of them, was one.

    Based on the true story of the quiz show scandals that rocked 1950s America, Quiz Show stars John Turturro, Ralph Fiennes, Rob Morrow, and a very strong supporting cast including the delightful Paul Scofield as Mark Van Doren. Turturro is Herb Stemple, the reigning champion on the top-rating NBC television show, Twenty-One. Herb has been champ for several weeks in a row, earning himself tens of thousands of dollars in prize-money and the network strong ratings and advertising revenue. But when the network executives note the ratings have reached a plateau and decide it is time for him to move on, Herb is not impressed and threatens to expose the show. You see, the high-rating programme isn't all that it appears to be. Rather than a true quiz style test of the competitors' knowledge it is, in the words of the network heavies, entertainment. The competitors (or at least the one that the producers want to win each week) are fed the answers before the show is recorded. This way the producers can easily manipulate the competitors and the winners to provide the best result for the ratings and thereby increase revenue for their sponsor. Now this all seems just a little unethical, but this all apparently happened in the 50s in the US. The producers of the show, Dan Enright (David Paymer) and Albert Freedman (Hank Azaria), start the search for someone to replace the whining Herb and are instantly struck by the charm and intelligence of urbane university lecturer Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes), who has applied for a rival game-show. The genteel Van Doren is everything that the Jewish Herb isn't. He's got the looks, the manners, the charm, and most importantly the brains to knock off Herb and become the next champ. But does he have the courage to accept the answers in advance and deal with the consequences afterwards?

    Once dumped, Herb takes his threat to expose the show further and eventually the case lands in the lap of special government investigator Dick Goodwin (Rob Morrow), an ambitious young Harvard lawyer who latches onto the story of corrupt television programmes with zeal, seeing this as his big opportunity. During his investigation and questioning of the various participants he befriends Charles Van Doren, whom he admires greatly, and his family. Goodwin must decide on the best way to bring about justice without tarnishing the reputation of this fine American family. Unfortunately, it may be too late with the show's producers, the network, and the sponsors already beginning to wash their hands of the whole saga.

    This film features incredibly strong production values and a slick, polished look overall that captures the mood of a vibrant, yet slightly on-edge America in the 1950s. It also offers more than just a simple story of lying about a television show and the efforts made to get away with it. This is a multi-layered tale that delves into the sometimes murky question of ethical decision making, family relationships, and the willingness of big-business to wipe their hands of a controversy. This film also features an incredibly smart and snappy script with some delicious quotes. After saying this is a highly recommended drama for those who have yet to see it, I'll leave you with my favourite line from my favourite character in the film, the father of Charles Van Doren, Mark Van Doren, who upholds the virtues of everything that is proper and decent in his family and can't quite comprehend the fuss over something to do with a television show.

"Cheating on a quiz show? That's like plagiarising a comic strip."

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This transfer is presented in the original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1. It is also 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a relatively sharp transfer, though certainly it is not as finely detailed as many I have seen of a similar vintage. On the odd occasion it appears just a little softer than I would have liked to see, but overall it is more than adequate. Edge enhancement is a non-event and there are no shadow detail problems. There is also no low level noise.

    The colour palette is excellent with many of the garish 1950s fashions and interiors superbly rendered. Skin tones are well defined all round and there are deep, solid, consistent blacks and no problems with bleeding.

    There are no apparent compression artefacts. There is a little aliasing here and there, most obvious at 2:12 on some shutters, but this is barely distracting. There are quite a few film artefacts present and some would classify this print as being slightly grubby at times. Most of the artefacts are quite small, but a couple at 9:31 and 20:59 are certainly larger than average and detract from the overall image.

    There are several subtitles present. The English variety are excellent, being well presented on screen in a timely manner and of high accuracy.

    Unlike the original release of this film which was on a dreaded flipper disc, this is a dual layered disc that is RSDL formatted. The layer change is located at 63:43 and is placed to absolute perfection on a fade to black.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is only one soundtrack available on this DVD, that being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track.

    While not an overly enveloping soundtrack, there is enough separation across all channels to provide a decent aural experience. Sonic range is excellent with clear and solid low end. Dialogue is clear and concise with no apparent audio sync problems.

    The film opens with a corker of a song. Bobby Darin's version of Mack The Knife in all its glory plays across the opening credits and really does get the feet tapping. In addition, Mark Isham's score captures the 1950s to a tee.

    There is quite a reasonable amount of surround activity with effects such as the television audience and the cacophony of the gallery during the committee hearings being the most obvious examples. The subwoofer adds a gentle rumble when required, but there isn't a whole lot of crash and bang in what is a dialogue dominated soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras on this disc.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 version misses out on:

    The R4 version misses out on:

    The Region 1 disc has been available for several years now and I can find no information to suggest it is about to be replaced. As a result, the Region 4 offering is far superior at this time.


    Quiz Show is a superb directorial effort from Robert Redford. The story is dramatic and highly entertaining, with an excellent ensemble cast providing a set of well-rounded performances.

    The disc is technically excellent, with some minor grime and dirt on the source print being the only real negative.

    The audio is also excellent with plenty of solid range and even a little surround activity.

    Unfortunately there are no extras for a film which really does deserve a whole swag of them. Maybe one day we will get them.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Monday, January 12, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Black and White? - TurkeyTom REPLY POSTED
Dimwit? - CatonaPC© (read my bio) REPLY POSTED