In the 1970s, terrorist violence is the stuff of networks' nightly news programming and the corporate structure of the UBS Television Network is changing. Meanwhile, Howard Beale, the aging UBS news anchor, has lost his once strong ratings share and so the network fires him. Beale reacts in an unexpected way. We then see how this affects the fortunes of Beale, his coworkers (Max Schumacher and Diana Christensen), and the network. Written by
Bruce Janson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
After Howard's first on-air meltdown, as Max and the other network executives sample the reaction from other networks, they watch the other newscasts from a bank of three sets, each tuned to a different channel. As Max says he is not surprised each of the other networks is leading with the Beale story, he lowers the volume of each set in turn. The volume drops before Max's hand reaches the dials. See more »
This story is about Howard Beale, who was the news anchorman on UBS TV. In his time, Howard Beale had been a mandarin of television, the grand old man of news, with a HUT rating of 16 and a 28 audience share. In 1969, however, his fortunes began to decline. He fell to a 22 share. The following year, his wife died, and he was left a childless widower with an 8 rating and a 12 share. He became morose and isolated, began to drink heavily, and on September 22, 1975, he was fired, ...
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Yes, Beale is great the first half of the movie then he becomes a dreadful bore. Diana is a cartoon characterization that has utterly no resemblance to any real life woman. She keeps babbling about ratings during coitus? Please, this is one of the main flaws of the movie. It is too literary; the dialog is so esoteric with words only intellectuals use. Do you really believe television people speak this intellectually? It gives the film such a sense of unreality about it. Yes, Beale's great scenes at the beginning are why I gave it six stars. But please, after the first half when Jensen turns him into a corporate stooge it is solid boredom until he turns on the Network. By this point, we are all asleep. Duvall as Hackett is also a caricature that seems completely contrived and unrelentingly hostile to everybody. It really is two movies in one. The first half is a nine star movie though Holden grosses us out with that reprise of his later Breezy. Please, we do not want to see him having sex with the stunning Dunaway. Yes, I know, she is using him, it is symbiosis, but hey not on camera while I am eating. Gross Out. The film starts wandering after Jensen takes over Beale. It slows way, way, down; the part with the commies fighting over the royalties is strained and not funny.
The believability of Diana still lusting after Max after he has been thrown out and served his purpose is absurd. Paddy had him living with her in her apartment. Why? Does anyone believe such a mercenary, cruel manipulator like Diana would have given him a moment of her time? What, she covets the money from his memoirs? The fatal flaw of the movie is simply stated. The characters are contrived and unreal; the dialog sounds like we are reading a book. Who talks like this? You think practical people putting bread on the table speak in ten syllable words to each other, give me a break: how phony!! Satire is great, but the ending of the movie is beyond the realm of satire into insanity. Yes, let's hire the commies to gun Howard down. Yes, it is funny but it drains what little credibility the overrated behemoth had left in it. If I hear Max tell that crappy joke about the guy and the George Washington bridge, one more time: How many times did they think it would still be funny?
We have all kinds of confusion about what tone the film wants to strike. When Max is thrown out by his wife, it is deadly serious she almost has a breakdown. Later, when Max leaves Diana the scene is played for laughs. He mocks how their relationship could be a television program. Yet, and this is the irony, the scene plays exactly like the one he is mocking. Pick a tone! Satire all the way or serious all the way; the elements are so juxtaposed, and interpolated that you get a potato salad with serious and comic elements all blended incoherently together. Who doesn't hate television? If you are going to mock it, try not to become the image of your target. The movie is the very essence of what Carl Jung meant by we become what we hate. Do what I do, watch the film until Ned Beatty shows up about halfway through, then get up and turn it off. The first half was excellent; the second half stinks.
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