CINEMA: Barbarians At the Gate

Robert Redford's Quiz Show is a smart, hugely entertaining depiction of a turning point in American cultural history

It was one of those moments the moralists live for: nice young man -- good family, college teacher, an earnest intellectual yet rather cuddlesome -- is caught cheating not only in public but also on television. Fame and fortune were the prizes he very nearly got away with, but infamy was his final reward.

What instructive lessons could be derived from this outrage, this tragedy, this affront to the button-down proprieties of the 1950s? Surely something was revealed here about American materialism. Or the cynicism of its media masters. Or perhaps the gullible neediness of the public, yearning to identify with...

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