Network (1976) / Drama
MPAA Rated: R for for strong language, some sexual content, and a scene of violence
Running Time: 121 min.
Cast: Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, Wesley Addy
Director: Sidney Lumet
Screenplay: Paddy Chayefsky
Review published December 22, 1999
A film that seems more relevant as the years progress. Shockingly, some of the programming decisions that were considered ridiculously over the top back then seem almost within the realm of possibility in this age of Jerry Springer and his cohorts.
UBS, the fourth place network is struggling in the ratings department. In a stroke of desperation, the news department is seen as almost irrelevant until the anchor of the nightly news (Finch, Sunday Bloody Sunday) almost suffers a breakdown on the air when hearing of his firing. With nothing to lose, he begins to interject speeches in the form of tirades against the ills of today's society, which strikes a cord with the many viewers across the disenfranchised country, who are all "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!" As a result, the ratings skyrocket, catapulting the anchorman to stardom and his own show where he speaks about the shabby state of society. The now flourishing network loves it, that is until he decides to meddle in the companies internal politics and financial decision-making.
A tour-de-force of acting and writing, by the highly touted screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky (Marty, Altered States). Finch deserved the posthumous Oscar he received as newsman Howard Beale, and it remains one of the most memorable performances in history. Director Lumet (Serpico, Night Falls on Manhattan) never falters in one of his most exciting and ambitious films, accentuating the controversial script with just the right notes at the right times. Underneath it all is one of the most powerful commentaries on the sad state of the media and television industries, and while the goings on are often funny, there is also much truth to the knowing story. Outstanding entertainment and one of the greatest satires in film history.
©1999 Vince Leo