Even so it was sensation when it came out in 1976,but for the most part it is really outdated-most noticeably Howard Beal's first news set to other parts including the network strategy meetings,remain timeless. Not to mention the set that Beal graduates to featuring soothsayers and gossip columnists on revolving pedestals nicely captures the feeling of some of the news/entertainment shows of that time. Most people remember Howard Beal got fed up with the bullshit around him couldn't take it anymore,and had a meltdown while on the air. But it was not quite like that. Beal is portrayed as an alcoholic doing such a bad job that he's fired by his boss(Holden). They get drunk together and joke about him committing suicide on the air(during one the episodes of The Howard Beal Show). The next day, in a farewell broadcast,Beal announces that he will indeed kill himself because of falling ratings. He's yanked from the air but begs a chance to say farewell. Lumet and Chayefsky pull out all the stops here. After Beal orders his viewers to "repeat after me",as they cut to exterior shots of people leaning out of their windows and screaming to the top of their lungs that they're mad as hell too. This is electrifying drama when it came out in 1976. Beal's ratings skyrocket(he is fourth after The Six Million Dollar Man, All In The Family,and Phyllis)and a new set is constructed on which he rants and raves after his announcer literally introduces him as a "mad prophet". Counter to this is the extravagant satire is the affair between Max and Diana. Faye Dunaway's seductive performance is what gives this movie it's glow as the obsessed programming executive;her eyes sparkle and she moistens her lips when she thinks of higher ratings,and in one sequence she kisses Max while telling him how cheaply she can buy James Bond re-runs. Later in bed,discussing ratings during sex,she climaxes while gasping not only about the Mao Tse-tung Hour,but bringing an idea for a lesbian daytime soap opera called "The Dykes" where she discusses the series about a female mistress who has an affair with her husband's wife. Then the idea for a prime-time show based on the exploits of a group obviously inspired by the Symbionese Liberation Army. The one hilarious scene says it all which has a Patty Hearst type character and uses an Angela Davis type as her go-between. Much more interesting is William Holden's performance that keeps the movie riveting from start to finish. Beatrice Straight's role as Max's wife was so powerful and small it won her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar as a convincing portrayal of a woman who has put up with an impossible man for so long that she feels angry and betrayed after Max cheats on her. The film is full of vivid supporting roles. Ned Beatty has a sharp-edged cameo as a television executive while Robert Duvall(who was Oscar Nominated for Best Supporting Actor) plays an executive who is involved in the goings on in front and behind the scenes while Wesley Addy is the handsome gray-haired executive in the network's display window during behind the scenes and during one of the stockholder meetings. One of the insights to "Network" and as well as Chayefsky's key insights is that the bosses don't much care what you really say on television as long as you don't threaten their profits..
The star of the film, and creator of a bitter, beautifully structured and frequently poetic script is that screenwriting colussus Paddy Chayefsky. Second most valuable players are the deeply talented and spectacular cast, academy award winners Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, Beatrice Straight, but upon a recent viewing, William Holden, who is the heart and soul of this film. One of the best ever leading men in Hollywood history for manliness, looks and acting chops, Holden gives an indelible, sad eyed, heartfelt and intelligent performance that haunts you long after screening. He was cheated of an oscar for this one. Thirdly, the wonderful Sidney Lumet (arguably the highest quality and longest spanning list of Hollywood critical classics - over four decades -of any director) directs up to his usual high standards, but this is Chayefsky's film.
Yes, Chaefysky's script is preachy and declamitory throughout with very long and discursive speeches spewing his venom about the current (30 years ago) state of TV and corporate American that has only become more dire in subsequent decades. However, these wonderful actors pull off each word with such panache and briliance that you almost don't notice the clunky aspects of the storytelling.
I do wonder if a young person (under 25) would even perceive Network as a satire at all, except for a network decision to assassinate its anchorman for ratings. To them, this would just seem like a drama about the way things are, and a realistic one at that. Hmmm. I take that back, even that assination plot doesn't seem that outrageous today. (Osama navy seals takedown, anyone? A ratings hit if there ever was one.)
Network is one of those movies that just grabs you. There's no better way to describe it. It's the rare kind of intelligent movie with a point that also more than delivers the entertainment value.
I don't think it's perfect, however. The story has two main connected threads, and I found the main one far more interesting than the side-plot/love story. I understand how the two aspects reflect each other and converge near the end to reinforce the point of the movie, but that doesn't change the fact that it gave me the feeling that Network was slightly uneven.
Still, this movie is worth watching for a variety of reasons, including great performances by Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway, some excellent writing, and its commentary on television that's more relevant today than ever.
A through and through sensational movie. It's sickening to see how little our news media has evolved over the years. Critical but not overwhelmingly condemnatory, it's a wonderfully adult movie that happens to take a very firm, eloquent stand.
the story takes place in the news room of UBS-TV, a fictional, last place network...The UBS Evening News, anchored by veteran Howard Beale (Peter Finch) is struggling..In an attempt to reverse its fortunes, UBS decides to get rid of Beale and bring in someone new,The night after Beale is told of his firing, he announces on air that not only has his contract been terminated, but that he will kill himself during his final broadcast in one week. "I am going to blow my brains out right here on this program," he states. The network is flooded with calls of shrieking protest. ratings go up !! Networks point is, of course, that ratings drive everything.......
As Diana Christensen, Faye Dunaway won an Oscar for her work here. Her character is smart, manipulative, cold, and oh-so-sexy....
The cast, which earned five acting nominations (and won three), is stellar.
a good story and script i enjoyed it.