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 <email@example.com>
In 2005, in preparation for what would eventually be a scrapped project for a live television adaptation of this film, George Clooney screened the film for a group of teens and young adults in order to determine their reactions to it. He found, much to his surprise, that none of the young people recognized the film as satire. "I couldn't understand it," Clooney told the Associated Press. Then he "realized that everything Paddy Chayefsky wrote about had happened." See more »
It is said early on that at one point, Beale's evening news program had as high as a 16 HUT rating. As HUT stands for Households Using Television, a HUT rating of 16 would mean only 16% of sets were in use, a low figure for that time of day where at least 60% would be expected. Additionally, the HUT rating applies to all programs airing at that hour. Individual program figures are reported as Household ratings or Household share. A rating is a percentage of all sets in the survey area, a share is a percentage of all sets in use at that hour. 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, ...
[...] See more »
This movie came out when I was nine years old, and I saw it on network TV the following year, lured by the brouhaha that surrounded the use of the "barnyard epithet" during prime time. I loved this movie before I understood it, and I worship it now. Like "Elmer Gantry" or "1984," it's a work of didactic art that only fails on an imaginative level -- Sinclair Lewis couldn't grasp how debased evangelism would become, Orwell couldn't foresee the excesses of Mao or Pol Pot, and Chayevsky couldn't envision the absolute decline of television from a vast wasteland to a malevolent sewer. Fox News, reality TV, even the OJ chase, "Network" anticipates every vile bit of it.
Now, it's ridiculously overwritten -- NO ONE is as articulate as the characters in this film, and most certainly, no one who works in television is as literate as Diana Christensen (the Faye Dunaway character). I doubt that poet laureates or even Eminem could spew as witty an aside as "muttering mutilated Marxism." But damn if that isn't part of its charm. Plus, outside of Max Schumacher (William Holden), the characters are pretty much archetypes instead of real people (the Robert Duvall character might as well wear a black cape and top hat), but their two-dimensionality works as a good metaphor for Max's seduction into the "shrieking nothingness" or television. Plus the actors are so superb they make screeching caricatures into almost-sympathetic characters: Duvall is a credible and charismatic villain, Finch is a fine mad prophet and Faye Dunaway manages to make a shrill, manipulative, soulless neurotic so damn cute and sexy you'll want to leave your wife for her, too, just as long as she promises to keep sitting cross-legged on your desk and hitching up her skirt. (Therein lies the real eroticism, forget the intentionally mechanical, unerotic coupling later in the flick). Anyway, this is complex, high art masquerading as popular entertainment, go rent it now.
224 of 289 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?