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A young lawyer Jim Goodwin investigates a potentially fixed game show. Charlie Van Doren, a big time show winner is under Goodwin's investigation.
Charles Van Doren: They gave me the answers. Mark Van Doren: They gave you the answers... they gave YOU the answers? Charles Van Doren: Well, no... no, at first they'd ask me questions they already knew I knew the answers to. We ran through those, and I really didn't want them to give me the answers, so they gave me the questions and I'd look up the answers on my own, as if that were any different. Well, we ran through those in a couple of weeks and I just didn't have the time, finally, and it just seemed silly, so... Mark Van Doren: They gave you all that money to answer questions they knew you knew... now, that's inflation! Charles Van Doren: You're not being very helpful!
Congressman Derounian: I'm happy that you've made the statement. But I cannot agree with most of my colleagues. See, I don't think an adult of your intelligence should be commended for simply, at long last, telling the truth.
Mark Van Doren: I'm sorry, Charlie. I'm an old man, it's all a little difficult for me to comprehend! Charles Van Doren: It's television, Dad. It's... it's just... just television... Mark Van Doren: You make it sound like you didn't have a choice! Charles Van Doren: What was I supposed to do at that point, disillusion the whole goddamn country? Mark Van Doren: Charlie, you took the money! Charles Van Doren: Yes, yes, I took the money! Mark Van Doren: Is that what this was about? Charles Van Doren: No... no, um, I don't know... Mark Van Doren: It was a goddamn quiz show, Charlie. Charles Van Doren: An ill-favored thing, sir... Mark Van Doren: This is not the time to play games! Charles Van Doren: At mine own, it was mine! Mark Van Doren: Your name is mine!
Herbie Stemple: You know why they call them Indians? Because Columbus thought he was in India. They're "Indians" because some white guy got lost.
Mark Van Doren: Sixty-four thousand dollars for a question, I hope they are asking you the meaning of life.
Mark Van Doren: Your name is mine!
Charles Van Doren: I've stood on the shoulders of life and I've never gotten down into the dirt to build, to erect a foundation of my own. I've flown too high on borrowed wings. Everything came too easy.
[to a reporter outside the committee hearing] Herbie Stemple: You know what the problem with you bums is? You never leave a guy alone unless you're leaving him alone.
Mark Van Doren: If you look around the table and you can't tell who the sucker is, it's you.
Toby Stempel: I know what you're gonna accomplish, I just don't know what he's gonna accomplish. Herbie Stemple: You want to know what? If I do nothing else I will convince them that Herbert Stemple knows what won the God-damned Academy Award for best God-damned picture of 1955; that's what I'm gonna accomplish.
[while Dan Enright is testifying] Dick Goodwin: I thought we were gonna get television. The truth is... television is gonna get us.
Student At Book Party: Professor Van Doren, I took your course at Columbia - "Hawthorne, Original Sin, and the American Experience". Well, as silly as it sounds, it changed my life. Mark Van Doren: Was it the Hawthorne or the sin?
Dick Goodwin: [of Charles Van Doren] There's absolutely no need to drag the man into the spotlight. Sandra Goodwin: You dragged Herb Stempel into the spotlight. Dick Goodwin: Stempel? The man has to be dragged from the spotlight with his teeth marks still on it!
Dick Goodwin: Hey, you don't have to be a genius to connect the dots. Charles Van Doren: Well, don't connect them through me. Dick Goodwin: Hey, don't treat me like some member of your goddamn fan club. Are you telling me everybody got the answers but you? Charles Van Doren: You're so persistent, Dick. You know, I really envy that. Dick Goodwin: Was it just the money, Charlie? Charles Van Doren: You'll forgive me, but anyone who thinks money is ever "just money" couldn't have much of it. Dick Goodwin: Charlie, you wanna insult me, fine, but you can't envy me at the same time.
[At a poker game] Dick Goodwin: I know you're lying. Charles Van Doren: Bluffing. The word is bluffing.
Charles Van Doren: Dad, I can't simply just tell them the truth. Mark Van Doren: Can't tell them the truth? Why on earth not? Charles Van Doren: Because it's complicated. Mark Van Doren: Complicated?
Dick Goodwin: 21 is rigged and I can prove it... I have Enright cold and that means I have you. Kitner: Really? Dick Goodwin: Really. Kitner: Then how come you're the one who's sweating?
Dick Goodwin: Excuse me. Do you think he might see me before the peacock molts? Kintner's Secretary: Who are you with again? Dick Goodwin: I'm with the United States Congress. Perhaps you've heard of them.
Dick Goodwin: And I'll send you a little helpful reminder. You'll notice it because it'll look very much like a subpoena.
Mark Van Doren: [reciting poetry at his birthday party] Now see summer bloom upon this lee, three score rings around this tree, once green, now bare, once lush, now sere, consoled only that I am planted here... John Van Doren: You certainly are! Mark Van Doren: Roots thick... Thomas Merton, The Monk: And bold... Mark Van Doren: And deep... John Van Doren: And doddering... Mark Van Doren: Assuage my woes... Bunny Wilson: And termites nibbling at my toes! Mark Van Doren: Et tu, Bunny!
Mark Van Doren: What these books have conclusively proven is that the diffence between men and women is exactly 38 pages. Man 1: Can I quote you, Mark? Mark Van Doren: Not before I quote me. Dorothy Van Doren: His own quotes are his greatest pleasure. Man 2: Did you hear the market dropped 30 points today. There's a rumor Eisenhower died. Dorothy Van Doren: How could they tell? Mark Van Doren: Oh, please. Don't get Dorothy started on politics. There'll be a raid.
Herbie Stemple: Don't do this to me, it's humiliating. Enright: For seventy grand, Herb, you can afford to be humiliated.
Albert Freedman: It's not like we're hardened criminals here. We're in show business.
Herbie Stemple: And they love me for the same reason they used to hate me, because I'm the guy who knows everything.
Herbie Stemple: I love my wife, but it's like living with a plague of locusts.
Mark Van Doren: Cheating on a quiz show? That's sort of like plagiarizing a comic strip.
Jack Barry: Eleven points will bring you to 21 and you will be our new champion! Because of a disagreement with his commanding general, Ulysses S. Grant was virtually placed under arrest for a brief time early in 1862. Who was the commanding general of the Union army at that time? Tough question. Charles Van Doren: Just so oddly familiar.
Dick Goodwin: I asked myself, "why would he do this, he knows I'll come after him?" Then it occurred to me. He knows I'll come after him.
Dan Enright: How much do they pay instructors up at Columbia? Charles Van Doren: Eighty-six dollars a week. Dan Enright: Do you have any idea how much Bozo the Clown makes? Charles Van Doren: Well... we, we can't all be Bozo the Clown.
Herbie Stemple: You wanna be worshipped? Go to India and moo.
Herbie Stemple: Come and see Herbie Stempel get thrown to the Columbia lions! Watch Charles Van Doren eat his first kosher meal in his life.
Herbie Stemple: [offering rugelach] Come on, they're a Jewish delicacy. Before Toby eats it. Toby Stempel: I'm retaining water, for your information. Herbie Stemple: You and the Grand Coulee Dam.
Jack Barry: [prepping for the show] My light okay? My nose doesn't look big? Stage worker: You look great Jack. Jack Barry: Last week I looked like a sun dial.
Charles Van Doren: Last week alone, I had 11 proposals of marriage! Mark Van Doren: Perhaps you should accept one of them. Dorothy Van Doren: [to Mark] And to think, they unleash you on those impressionable young minds. Mark Van Doren: Well, why not? He's 33 years old, Jesus Christ had a girlfriend at 33 years old. Dorothy Van Doren: Look how that turned out. Thomas Merton, The Monk: And, he shared an office with His Father!
Albert Freedman: If you were a kid, would you wanna be an annoying Jewish guy with a side wall haircut? Charles Van Doren: Well I wanted to be Joe Dimaggio. Albert Freedman: Oh yeah, me too. Especially after he signed for that hundred grand.
Dick Goodwin: [Dick Goodwin questions Dan Enright about evidence of Twenty One being fixed] Dan, I have it on the kinescope, it's clear as day. The man literally did a double-take. Enright: [laughing] He did a double-take? And who told you this? Is this Herb again? Or is this the Greenwich Village Beatnik? Dick Goodwin: That's interesting, why is he a beatnik? Because he's not Charlie Van Doren? Enright: Yeah, you're damn right he's not Charlie Van Doren. You know, you got these crackpots coming out of the woodwork, you're snooping around asking questions. You don't have a shred of concrete evidence. Dick Goodwin: Dan, let me tell you something. In this envelope are all the questions that James Snodgrass was asked on Twenty One. The odd thing about this envelope is that he appeared on the show January 13th, if you recall. Yet, he somehow mailed this to himself on January 11th via registered mail. I'd say that's pretty goddamn concrete, wouldn't you?
Cornwall Cousins: Charles, is Jack Barry single? Charles Van Doren: I think so. Cornwall Cousins: My roommate has a huge crush on him, she wants you to introduce her. Cornwall Cousins: What's Dave Garroway like? Charles Van Doren: Cheap. Cornwall Aunt: 'Cheat'? Mark Van Doren: Wasn't I talking? Bunny Wilson: You were, just talking, and talking, and talking... Cornwall Cousins: Charlie's famous, like Elvis Presley! Mark Van Doren: And like Leopold of Belgium, usurped by his son before his time! Charles Van Doren: Oh, that makes me King Baudouin! Mark Van Doren: Next birthday, you all get a dirty limerick. Thomas Merton, The Monk: I certainly hope so!
Account Guy: Stempel is an underdog. You know, people root for that. It's a New York thing. Martin Rittenhome: Queens is not New York!
Dick Goodwin: You're to receive the questions in advance, and I'm to thank you for the courtesy of attending this hearing. Martin Rittenhome: Mercy. What a grueling line of inquiry. Dick Goodwin: Must have a familiar ring - the questions in advance.
Mark Van Doren: Charlie, from what I understand, it's just a bunch of frauds showing off an erudition they really didn't have. All you have to do is... Charles Van Doren: The problem is, Dad, is that it seems I was one of those frauds.
Herbie Stemple: [referring to television] That box is the biggest thing since Gutenberg invented the printing press, and I'm the biggest thing on it.
Toby Stempel: My mother wants to know why you only went for eight on the movies. Herbie Stemple: Because my real expertise is pain-in-the-ass in-laws, all right?
Dick Goodwin: You know, money isn't everything. Sandra Goodwin: I'm not the one who came home with a Chrysler catalogue.
Charles Van Doren: [to Enright after his first fixed show] "So pure it floats", hmm?
[coming upon a large gift box; it contains a TV] Mark Van Doren: Well, what do we have here? Party guest: Aftershave. Mark Van Doren: Aww.
Announcer: Geritol. America's #1 tonic. Geritol, the fast-acting, high-potentcy tonic, that helps you feel... stronger... fast... presents the exciting quiz program..."Twenty-One." Brought to you by NBC, The National Broadcasting Company, broadcasting nationally coast to coast, from New York to Los Angeles, from Seattle to St. Petersburg... via a vast network of affiliates crisscrossing the country. Coming up next, "Twenty-One," starring master of ceremonies Jack Barry! [music cues build dramatically] Announcer: Two players racing to score 21 points... each in a soundproof television studio, not knowing the other one's score... with $500 riding on each point... as they both play..."Twenty-One!" [lively theme music plays] Announcer: And here's your host... Jack Barry! [the audience applauds as Jack runs on to the stage and stands behind his podium] Jack Barry: [looking at us] Good evening. I'm Jack Barry. Due to a series of ties, Herbert Stempel, our 29-year-old ex-G.I. college student, must play at $3,000 a point, which means that in a few brief minutes, he can either win as much as $100,000 - the most money won on television to date - or lose everything he's won in the last eight weeks. [as Jack continues to speak, Herbert and his opponent wait to be introduced] Stempel's opponent: You nervous? Herbie Stemple: [chuckles as he clean's his glasses] It's only money. Jack Barry: Isolated in their soundproof studios, neither player is aware of the other's score. I've been assured by our friends at the encyclopedia... that they've concocted some real brain-breakers this week, so we'll find out in the next 30 minutes... if the unstumpable Herbert Stempel can be stumped. Could I have the questions, please? [a drumroll plays as the questions are handed to Jack by a stagehand] Jack Barry: Thank you, gentlemen. Remember the questions on "Twenty-One" are secured each week in a Manhattan bank vault 'til just before show time. So right now, let's meet Herbert Stempel and his challenger as Geritol, America's #1 tonic, presents "Twenty-One." [a fanfare plays and the audience applauds as Herbert and his opponent make their entrances]
Martin Rittenhome: Television is gonna go on. The quiz shows are gonna go on. Makes me wonder what you hope to accomplish with all this. Dick Goodwin: Don't worry, I'm just getting started. Martin Rittenhome: You're a bright young kid with a bright future. Watch yourself out there.
Kitner: You're a producer, Dan. Produce.
Charles Van Doren: I've been swarmed by stockbrokers lately; I feel like a girl with a bad reputation.
Mark Van Doren: Why don't you just put it in the bank Charlie? That's what I've always done with my prize money. Charles Van Doren: It's just, you don't understand dad, it's, there are all sorts of tax implications Mark Van Doren: You Think I can't understand the concept of taxes. Charles Van Doren: At this level it's a bit more complicated. Mark Van Doren: And at my level? I never thought of myself as having a level. What level might that be?