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>
Faye Dunaway would later say that this was "the only film I ever did that you didn't touch the script because it was almost as if it were written in verse." She was as happy with Sidney Lumet as with the writing, describing him as "one of, if not the, most talented and professional men in the world. In the rehearsals, two weeks before shooting he blocks his scenes with his cameraman. Not a minute is wasted while he's shooting and that shows not only on the studio's budget but on the impetus of performance." 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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I can't put it more perfectly than Turner Classic Movies' Robert Osborne who said "What was originally a satire is a stinging mirror of television news today." I strain to think of a film that is a more brilliant take on society, and all of the flaws it has. It's obedience and entertainment by those who rebel, no matter how insane they are. The exploitation of those in peril for any kind of economic profit. And the fact that everything Beale preaches is completely true and completely bashes the people who are producing him. I was amazed by how much he sells out while continuing to rant about how terrible the people he works for are, and the fact that they just keep him on the air because they want ratings.
It couldn't be more related to today. Turn on the news and you see videos of how horrific the war on terror is and how horrific American society has become, but it stays on the air because people don't want to see the good things in life. They care about the bad and the corrupt. People must have laughed it off back then, but it was such a foreshadow to the near future. The performances are just as brilliant as the social commentary. Each actor becomes so absorbed into their characters that you can't even tell they're acting. It feels like you're watching these people in their daily lives, interacting and becoming more and more corrupt. Finch and Dunaway easily give two of the greatest performances of all time. I could write 20 more pages about it's brilliance, but I'll stop now to keep me from rating. I just have to say that it's so rare to find a film as incredibly flawless as this.
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