Long-time redblog reader/supporter and Threes player Fiirvoen, pulls down the homemade construction-paper medal today for being first to know what film featured Ralph Fiennes (appearing this weekend in Clash of the Titans and who can also be seen–briefly–in The Hurt Locker), the great Hank Azaria (most recently in Night at the Museum 2 and Year One), and Mira Sorvino. Sparky (one of our recent Threes winners now posting under a nom-de-quiz) came in second, and Todd Huffines in third. Congrats, all! (And to Ashley who actually went to the trouble to still play the Threes all the way from China!)
(And welcome to some new folks playing The Threes for the first time–stick around, we have quizzes all week: Close-Up Poster Contest later this afternoon, The Thursday Threes tomorrow, and Freeze Frame on Friday!)
So what film were Fiennes, Azaria, and Sorvino in together? Survey says… highlight the Inviso-Text below!
It was indeed Robert Redford’s 1994 film Quiz Show, about Charles Van Doren (Fiennes) and the Twenty One game-rigging scandal of 1958. Van Doren, a WASPy scion of privilege and learning (his father was the poet Mark Van Doren) participated in an arrangement that allowed him to win his initial Twenty One match in 1956–and gave him a lucrative TV-appearance contract after he was later arranged to lose. The film follows Congressional investigator Dick Goodwin (Rob Morrow) as he uncovers the conspiracy, with Redford using the true story as a symbol of American emphasis on image and status and on the nation’s lost innocence on the cusp of the ’60s.
It was Fiennes’s first starring role, coming off his praise-grabbing work in Schindler’s List the year before. Fiennes has, admirably, never really taken to being a “movie star,” and after a few more big roles in films like Strange Days and The English Patient (for which he nabbed a second Oscar nom) he sort of went underground, not really appearing in any major releases until 2002′s Red Dragon. These days of course he’s probably best known as Voldemort in the Potter series, but my favorite Fiennes performance of late has to be his foul-mouthed mob boss from In Bruges.
At the time, Azaria was still mostly working in small supporting roles–in Quiz Show he plays one of the show’s producers who engineered the fix that removed Twenty One champ Herbert Stempel (John Turturro), in part because he was too “ethnic” (i.e. Jewish) to have broad audience appeal.
Sorvino, the daughter of character actor Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas), was also mostly unknown in 1994. Quiz Show was her first major film, playing Goodwin’s wife. But the following year she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Woody Allen’s The Mighty Aphrodite. However, despite co-starring in the delightful and underrated Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, Sorvino’s film career never quite took off. Her last major role in a theatrical release was in Spike Lee’s 1999 Summer of Sam.
As for the real Charles Van Doren, he went on to become an editor at Encyclopeadia Britannica, leaving EB just a year or so before I myself arrived there in 1997.