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Quiz Show

Q & A (1990)

I haven't seen this film. According to the Internet Movie Database, it's a gritty crime film in which a "young district attorney seeking to prove a case against a corrupt police detective encounters a former lover and her new protector, a crime boss who refuses to help him."

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QB VII (1974) (TV Mini-Series)

Directed by Tom Gries, based on the novel by Leon Uris, this intriguing drama focuses on a doctor, Adam Kelno (Anthony Hopkins), who is accused, by a Jewish writer (Ben Gazzara), of collaborating with the Nazis. The best part of the series is the duel in the courtroom, Queens Bench VII (or QB VII, whence the title), between the two lawyers, magnificently played by John Gielgud (for the defense) and Anthony Quayle (for the prosecution). This is a stylish, sometimes slow, always thought-provoking series concerning issues that are still with us today. Great cross-examination techniques, in the understated, elegant British style. The Internet Movie Database reminded me of a slap at communists ("You spoke well of Dr. --." "That was before he defected. Now I say he is guilty." "Guilty of what?" "Of whatever you are charging him with.")

Other cast members include Leslie Caron, Lee Remick, and Jack Hawkins. Legendary actor Hawkins, who plays Justice Gilroy, had just had surgery for throat cancer. He mouthed his lines during filming, and they were later dubbed by actor Charles Gray.

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Quiz Show (1994)

This wonderful movie, based on actual events, takes place in the 1950s, in the early days of television, in a trusting country. A zealous lawyer, played by Rob Morrow, investigates a popular quiz show to see if the winners are fed the correct answers. The handsome WASP Columbia literature professor, Charles Van Doren, wonderfully played by Ralph Fiennes, consistently beats less attractive people, those from lower classes, and the obnoxious Jewish guy, played with all the charm of fingernails-on-a-blackboard by John Turturro. Hey, it's all a game, right? Or perhaps not. The film forthrightly shows how desperate the network is to find an appealing winner, and to what extent ordinary people can be bullied or bribed until someone, such as obnoxious guy from Queens, blows the whistle. I saw this film in Rockefeller Center, where the quiz show of the time took place, with people who seemed to remember every minute of it. As with so many scandals, it was the repeated denials of the accused that lost the public's sympathy. Van Doren and his lawyer asserted innocence for years. Eventually, in 1959, after testifying before the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, Van Doren confessed.

This film was rightly nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture, but lost out to Forrest Gump. (Talk about questionable competition results!) Directed by Robert Redford, based on a book by Richard N. Goodwin and an Oscar-nominated screenplay by Paul Attanasio, the film's excellent cast also features Paul Scofield and Hank Azaria.

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