April 26,1995 8 Campus Extras Quiz Show questions television's morality The enduring popularity of quiz shows, such as the current evening favorites "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of For tune," reflects America’s fescination with seeing itself on television—the “that could be me, ” play-along-at-home mentality and, of course, the lure of easy money. Robert Redford examines the twin roots of all evil, television and money, in his brilliant fi^mQuizShow. Quiz Show is based on the game show scandals of 1959, in which the shows Twenty-One and The $64,000 Question were exposed as rigged be fore a Congressional Overnight Com mittee. John Turturro brilliantly por trays Herbert Stempel, Queens’ proud, long-time winner of the show Twenty- One, who was forced by the network to take a dive on an easy question to allow a new and more photogenic contestant, Charies Van Doren (Ralph Feiimes of recent Schindler’s List ac Movie Review Lea Bingham claim), to take his place as television’s “intellectual Joe DiMaggio.” Stempel retaliated by alleging that the show was rigged, and Richard Goodwin, played by Northern Exposure’s Rob Morrow, brought the networks before a Congressional hearing. Redford depicts the quiz show scan dals as a turning point in American culture, a foreshadowing of the cyni cism and public distrust that Nixon and the Watergate scandal brought to Washington for good. To Redford, the quiz show scandals represented a test of American values, which were chal lenged and found lacking. The opening scene shows with •Student storage-Store your personal items for the summer in a safe, clean, air-conditioned space. 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Redford chooses to focus on the relationships and ethical dilemmas of the three main characters, turning Van Doren’s situation into a classic father- son struggle. Van Doren desires not only money, but also recognition and a reputation to equal those of his father, the famous literary critic and Pulitzer- Prize winning poet, Mark Van Doren (Paul Scofield). When Charies finally admits his wrongdoing to his father, Redford’s talent for recreating family relations, as shown in Ordinary People, takes over. The relationship between Richard Goodwin and Charies Van Doren is equally complicated. Although Goodwin graduated first in his class at Harvard Law, he remains an outsider because of his Jewish background. In reference to their shared Ivy League backgrounds. Van Doren says, “I feel like we speak the same language,” but it quickly becomes apparent that they do not. Goodwin is seduced by the Van Dorens’ old-money lifestyle, scholarly charm, and intellectual sophistication. It is Goodwin’s longing for this unat tainable world and desire to protect and preserve it that causes his own moral dilemma over whether to ques tion Van Doren at the committee hear ings. His hesitation incurs the wrath of his wife, who calls him “the Uncle Tom of the Jews.” John Turturro gives one of the fin est performances as Herbert Stempel, again opening up the ugly Pandora’s box of anti-Semitism in America. Turturro plays an annoying, paranoid nerd with genuine humor and yet at the same time, compels us to feel com passion for the man who has been wronged because he is not one of the beautiful people. He has, as one woman remarks, “a face for radio, ” a comment as cogent in today’s realm of photoge nic but lackluster political candidates as it was for the Kennedy-Ntxon presi dential campaign of 1960. He observes to Goodman that game shows always follow a Jew with a Gentile, and the Gentile always wins more money. He turns out to be right. The fine acting by the three central characters is beautifiilly complemented by supporting characters, who add to the film’s richness. Paul Scofield grace fully portrays the eminent man of let ters Mark Van Doren, whose intellec tual prowess, humor and simple good sense seem like a beacon of settled conviaions in his son's sea of moral confusion. Stempel’s wife lends to her husband, almost entirely without words, a sense of dignity he does not even seek for himself. And Martin Scorcese.plays a wonderfully slick and cynical executive of Geritol,7'tt'en(y- One’s sponsor. In fact, few American vices escape unscathed in this film, from commer cialism to materialism, from anti- Semitism to judicial inequality, from intellectual elitism to anti-inteUectual- ism, but it is television that takes the greatest beating. Goodman comments with prescience, “I thought we were going to get television; the truth is, television is going to get us.” In many ways, television has got us, but with films like Quiz Show and its intelligent commentary on our soci ety, there remains hope for film as a medium and potential for television. Quiz Show is currently playing at Blue Rit^e 10 (the $1.50 movie theater).

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