A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchor's ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit, but finds that his message may be difficult to control.A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchor's ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit, but finds that his message may be difficult to control.A television network cynically exploits a deranged former anchor's ravings and revelations about the news media for its own profit, but finds that his message may be difficult to control.
'Network' is Paddy Chafesky's riveting and grim tale of the sleaze surrounding the American television industry. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, 'Network' is without a doubt one of the most powerful, influential and meaningful films ever made. One of the reasons 'Network' was so well received by both film critics and movie-going audiences was because it possessed a certain quality that most films unfortunately lack -- intricate and involving characters in realistic situations. 'Network' definitely makes my list of the top 10 films of the 70s, and it's an absolute shame it didn't pick up the well-deserved 'Best Picture' Oscar at the Academy Awards ceremony in 1976.
The film follows a low-rated television network trying to keep it's head above water. The network, UBS, has decided to fire an aging veteran news anchor, Howard Beale (Peter Finch), in an act of desperation to boost ratings. Beale is given a two-week notice, and instead of going out with his tale between his legs, Beale announces on live television he was fired and is going to kill himself. This raises panic and chaos at UBS, until they get the memo that Beale's crazed rant just bumped the ratings significantly. The UBS execs, Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) and Frank Hackett (Robert Duvall) decide to give Beale his own show where he complains and screams bout the problems with the world, while Beale's best friend (William Holden) feels it's inappropriate for the network to take advantage of a mentally-ill man. Besides exploiting a mentally unstable man, the company execs also work out a weekly program with a anti-establishment African-American communist, Laureen Hobbs (Marlene Warfield) following political terrorists and their violent outbursts.The film also stars Beatrice Straight as Schumacher's boring wife, Conchetta Ferrell was an assistant working for the network and Ned Beatty who plays the sinister boss of the UBS television network who always gets what he wants.
'Network' boasts one of the finest and most intricate screenplays ever written that rightfully earned Paddy Chafesky the Oscar for Best Screenplay. Sidney Lumet's directing is absolutely incendiary and the movie has an incredibly strong cast. Faye Dunaway gives what is perhaps her very best screen performance as the cutthroat Network executive, while Robert Duvall is just as brilliant as the ruthless Frank Hackett (which should have earned him an Oscar nomination, period!) Beatrice Straight is solid in her role (not quite Oscar-worthy if you ask me, though) and Marlene Warfield is just as great as the sassy pinko sistah (excuse me for that phrasing). The two performers who really steal the show however are William Holden and Peter Finch. Both nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the Academy Awards in 1977, Peter Finch gives a startling and powerful performance as the 'mad-as-hell' (not to mention crazy-as-hell) Howard Beale, while William Holden gives a subtle but none-the-less outstanding performance as the conflicted Max Schumacher. It's hard to say who was better, but if I absolutely had to decide I'd choose Holden's non-Oscar-winning performance slightly over Finch's sympathy Oscar-winning performance (he still was extraordinary,m though). I honestly believe if Finch hadn't died just after the film, Holden would have taken home the Oscar gold for Best Leading Actor, both were still magnificent though. The only player in the cast that I felt wasn't that great was Ned Beatty. In a role far-deserving from an Oscar nomination (which he for some odd reason received), Beatty plays the angry little man role he always does. Besides Beatty's performance and marginal pacing problems towards the middle (you are gonna get that in any 70s film that isn't a Kubrick film), the movie is utterly perfect.
I can't recommend you seeing 'Network' highly enough. If you want a carefully made motion picture that makes you think and reflect on how cutthroat our society has become (especially TV broadcasting), 'Network' is a absolute must. What are you waiting for, go out and rent 'Network'! It might just alter your perspective on things. Grade: A-
MADE MY TOP 300 LIST AT #46
- Aug 25, 2005