Capital Celluloid 2019 - Day 244: Sun Sep 1

Quiz Show (Redford, 1994) & Marty (Mann, 1955) : Cinema Museum, 2pm

Badlands Collective introduction:
One of the most acclaimed releases of 1994, Robert Redford’s Quiz Show has slipped out of public view in recent years but the themes it explores are as potent and resonant as ever 25 years on. Adapted by Paul Attanasio from former Kennedy aide Richard Goodwin’s memoir, Quiz Show uses the scandal surrounding the rigged NBC game show Twenty One to examine the corruption that lies beneath the seductive glamour of the American dream, and posing questions of class and privilege through the contrasting fortunes of the compromised contestants Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes) and Herbie Stempel (John Turturro). Redford posited his film as a parable about “the eternal struggle between ethics and capitalism,” but it’s primarily a vastly entertaining and morally ambiguous human drama, and we are thrilled to be presenting this rare 35mm presentation.

One of the key moments in Quiz Show hinges on Marty (1955), another much-celebrated film in its day that now seems to have been forgotten by many. The story of a kind-hearted but insecure bachelor (Ernest Borgnine) who falls for a sensitive schoolteacher, the Palme d’Or-winning Marty is a romantic marvel with a melancholy soul, and at a shade over ninety minutes it remains the shortest film to ever win Best Picture. Delbert Mann – making his directorial debut – was named Best Director with Paddy Chayefsky winning the first of his three Oscars for his tough and tender screenplay, while Ernest Borgnine beat James Cagney, James Dean, Frank Sinatra and Spencer Tracy to the Best Actor award.

Running Order:
14.00 Doors open
14.30 Quiz Show (133 mins)
17.25 Marty (90 mins)

Chicago Reader review of Quiz Show:
Robert Redford's best and richest directorial effort (1994) unpacks the TV quiz show scandal of the late 50s, when glamorous intellectual Charles Van Doren, star contestant on the quiz showTwenty-One, belatedly confessed that he'd been fed all the questions in advance. As played by Ralph Fiennes, Van Doren is lamentably not much more than a shallow icon, stripped of the real-life ambiguities and hidden depths that were apparent to everyone who followed the story. Despite these and other predictable simplifications, the story is allowed to retain much of its resonance and suggestiveness—as an instance of ethnic and class conflict as well as a landmark in media bamboozlement—and even some of the network and corporate culprits in the original fraud are singled out and named. Rob Morrow is especially good as Richard N. Goodwin, the feisty and ambitious House subcommittee member who helped to uncover the scandal, even though it meant fingering a man he admired, and John Turturro is effective as Herb Stempel, another contestant whose disgruntlement as an involuntary loser on the show was crucial in bringing Van Doren down.
Jonathan Rosenbaum

Here (and above) is the trailer for Quiz Show.

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