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>
United Artists agreed to make the film despite having recently settled a lawsuit brought on by producers Paddy Chayefsky and Howard Gottfried that challenged the company's right to lease their previous film, The Hospital (1971), to U.S. television network ABC in a package with less successful film. Later, UA backed out, fearing the subject matter was too controversial. Once MGM agreed to make the movie, UA suddenly did a reversal, choosing to co-produce the film with the competing studio that, six years later, would buy UA outright following the debacle of Heaven's Gate (1980), a financial and public relations nightmare that prompted UA's parent company, Transamerica, to bail out of the film business. See more »
Every one of Howard Beale's shows has the same studio audience (note the man in the black vest, with long hair and a beard). 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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To think that this blackest of black comedies was made in 1976 could only means two things: 1) Nothing has changed or 2) Paddy Chayefsky was seeing the future with the most disturbing clarity. I endorse the later of the two because I believe things have changed since 1974 - I wasn't born yet, but I know because of my parents, the movies, literature, etc, etc, etc. Peter Finch as the mad prophet of the airwaves gives Chayefsky a riveting and powerful voice. The scenes between old chums Finch and William Holden are some of the best written scenes in any American movie until the Coen brothers emerged. Finch is superb, superb! and Holden, at the end of a legendary career, gives a performance of such ferocious sincerity that I rediscovered the man, the actor and felt the need to revisit some of his opus. From Golden Boy to Sunset Boulevard, Holden was a man who carried his own discomfort as a weapon. Extraordinary! However, the most alarming character in the whole thing is Faye Dunaway's. She is magnificent in her thin, nervous, bra-less attitude. She is a monster of commercial amorality. Everything in this incredible movie moves with the precision of an inspired clairvoyant's vision. Duvall's executive, Beatrice Straight's betrayed wife and Ned Beatty's god like big shot makes this one of the most frightening, entertaining, funniest, remarkable film from the 70's. Sidney Lumet proves once more that he's as good as his material. Here he is at his zenith.
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