Dirk Bogarde plays 'James Marriner', a washed-up T.V. personality ( known to viewers as 'Gentleman Jim' ) hired by an American satellite network as front man for their British operation. Having been dismissed from the terrestrial channels on account of his alcoholism, he jumps at the chance to get back on the box.
He makes a horrifying discovery - the station is owned by a far-right religious group who intend using the programmes for propaganda purposes. Marriner is therefore faced with a dilemma - should he keep silent or denounce the station and possibly risk destroying his last attempt at a career comeback? He chooses the latter option. The station immediately sets out to discredit him. An old girlfriend of Marriner's - Margaret Bunn - becomes the victim of character assassination by the media, who hound her at every turn, nicknaming her 'the Bunny girl'. Eventually, unable to take any more, she kills herself.
Marriner agrees to go on live television to make one final bid at exposing these fanatics. But he has underestimated them. After making a desperate plea, he is told that his speech has not gone out live, and that he is now completely finished. Despondent, he leaves the studio...
Unlike the other I.M.D.B. reviewer, I did not find this the least bit 'implausible'. On the contrary, what was predicted here has tragically come to pass. As I write, the skies are full of satellites pumping distorted news into millions of peoples' homes, the Fox News Network's coverage of the Iraq War being an obvious example.
Dirk Bogarde gives a powerful performance as 'Marriner', and I do not care if his final speech to camera was done better by Peter Finch in 'Network'. Lee Remick made her final appearance before her sad death, and she is splendidly evil as the station's boss. Unlike Wilfred Greatorex's '1990', this manages to be entertaining, with strong performances from the cast, and a twisty script.
I only wish 'The Vision' had had some impact on its original transmission. The nightmare predicted here could have been avoided, and we would not now be living in the horrific world we are now in. There was a Conservative Government in power when this went out, and they were hardly likely to heed the message of a play like this, no matter how well conveyed. The Labour Government could have passed laws to ensure that television is not in the hands of those with axes to grind, but inexplicably chose not to.
So top marks to everyone connected with this, but what a shame the message did not get through in time. Politicians of both right and left should be roundly condemned for their fatal lack of vision.