Network - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Network Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ September 19, 2013
An intelligent and hilarious satire whose main strength lies especially on a superb ensemble cast and a fantastic script that delights us with many priceless exchanges of lines as it offers us a highly relevant, thought-provoking social commentary on the television industry.
Super Reviewer
January 15, 2011
Strange how Howard Beal "the mad prophet of the airwaves," dominates our memories of "Network". We remember him in his soaking-wet raincoat,hair plastered to his forehead,shouting "I'm as mad as hell,and I'm not going to take anymore!" The phrase has entered into the language of our time becoming a catchphrase of our generation. But Beal(Peter Finch) is the movie's sideshow. The story centers on Diana Christensen(Faye Dunaway),the rating-hungry programming executive who is prepared to do anything for better numbers,and is prepared to do anything in her power to make it to the top of the television empire. The mirror to which she plays is Max Schumacher(William Holden),the middle-aged news executive who becomes Diana's victim and lover,in that order. What is fascinating about Paddy Chayfesky's Oscar winning screenplay is how smoothly it shifts gears,from satire to farce to social outrage. The scenes involving Beal and the revolutionary "liberation army" are cheerfully over the top. The scenes involving Max and Diana are quiet,tense,convincing drama. The action at the network executive level aims for behind-the-scenes realism;we may doubt that a Howard Beal could get on the air,but we have no doubt the idea would be discussed as the movie suggests. And then Chayefsky and the director,Sidney Lumet,edge the backstage network material over into satire too-but subtly,so that in the final late-night meeting where the executives decide what to do about Howard Beal,we have entered the madhouse without noticing. "Network" was not only a sensation,but a phenomenon when it came out in 1976. It was Nominated for Five Oscars including Best Picture and it was victorious in winning four for Peter Finch(Best Actor), Faye Dunaway(Best Actress), Beatrice Straight(Best Supporting Actress),and Best Original Screenplay(Paddy Chayefsky) not to mention winning Four Golden Globes that year for Best Actor(Peter Finch), Best Actress(Faye Dunaway), Best Original Screenplay(Paddy Chayefsky),and Best Director(Sidney Lumet). "Network" upon it's release was a huge boxoffice smash becoming one of the top ten films of 1976 behind "Rocky", "The Omen", "All The Presidents Men", "Taxi Driver",and the remake of "A Star Is Born". "Network" stirred up so much debate about the decaying values of television which was unheard of 1976 but relevant today. It was like a prophecy of what was to come. When Chayefsky created the character of Howard Beal, who would have imagine to onslaught of Jerry Springer, Morton Downey, Jr., Geraldo Rivera, Howard Stern, Maury Povich, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Ed Schultz, to Montel Williams to anything involving the WWF or the WWE and anything involving "the reality show" craze that has trashed the overall aspect of television today as we know it.

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..
Bathsheba Monk
Super Reviewer
February 7, 2013
Okay, everybody: go to your windows and shout: I'm made as h*ll and I'm not going to take it anymore. This movie took my breath away. Almost 30 years after it was made, it is even more relevant. The screenwriter, Paddy Chayefsky is responsible for a brilliant piece of writing. I got actual chills down my spine when the chairman of CCA industries (Ned Beatty), who owns the network, calls Howard Beal (Peter Finch) into the boardroom and reads a little reality to him: there are no more countries, there is no democracy, it's only IBM, ITT, Exxon. Can anyone say "Citizens United?" The subsequent drop in ratings when Howard preaches this on his tv show is so scary. Even scarier is the radical group who co-opts their ideals for subsidiary rights and distribution rights. Hello reality television. We can't talk about society being responsible for all the bad things that happen to us, because guess what? We be society.
Super Reviewer
January 19, 2013
Sidney Lumet's Network is yet again a stunning piece of cinema that explores the roots of a TV network looking for the next big thing to air. This is a fine satire that boasts a very strong cast of talented actors. Lumet always crafts a solid picture and he pulls through yet again with this follow-up to his highly engaging film, Dog Day Afternoon. Lumet always seems to direct films that have engrossing plotlines that just grabs your attention, and this is a powerful satirical drama that evokes every quality of Sidney Lumet's unique filmmaking. The film's high points are in its acting, and the cast that Lumet has assembled here, is really one of a kind. Several actors here give standout performances that give Network a much more intense viewing experience, one that you simply can't turn away from. The script is very solid as well and well layered to keep you engaged from start to finish. One thing that I love about Lumet's work is his knack to tell a great story using the simplest ideas. In turn, he is able to create picture that are far better than most, and that's why he is one of cinema's greatest artists. Fans of his will surely enjoy this powerful, satirical work that blends effective drama, and dark humor into a smartly written script. Aided by a memorable cast that should delight the most demanding cinema buff, Network is a standout picture that is a must see. With every film that Lumet has made, he would craft something totally different, and reinvent the cinematic medium. Network is a flawless picture that is among the most standout work of the 1970's and solidified Sidney Lumet's reputation as a one of a kind filmmaker. This is a film that took risks and pushed the envelope and explores media sensationalism in a very interesting way. If you want a well acted picture, with a great plot, then give Network a shot.
Super Reviewer
January 28, 2010
It's pretty hard to quibble with ratings in the face of this titan of a film. Brilliant work by all involved. Full review later.
Super Reviewer
April 29, 2008
Once-respected news anchor Howard Beale loses his mind and starts ranting during a live broadcast; since the UBS network is in last place the executives make the controversial decision to keep him on the air, and ratings soar as the news becomes a circus with Beale presiding as the "mad prophet of the airwaves." NETWORK is what all movie satires should aspire to be; the humor is cutting, passionate, purposeful and unforgiving. Paddy Chayefsky's dialogue is grandiose and unashamedly overwritten but brilliant---the film is packed with unforgettable monologues including William Holden dumping Faye Dunaway, Ned Beatty explaining that there are no nations anymore, and Peter Finch's iconic "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" rant.
Super Reviewer
½ January 11, 2012
Network is a hilarious yet sad hate letter, a precscient black 'satire' about the evil world of television from 1976. Satire is in parentheses because every last one of its apparently outlandish over the top predictions about the bleak and soul destroying aspects of TV though ratings grabbing corporate capitalism have come to pass - in spades - 'reality TV' before the term had been coined. I know this because I work in the world of 'reality TV', but all you need to do prove this is turn on your TV set.

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.)
Super Reviewer
½ January 22, 2008
Resonates even more these days.
Super Reviewer
August 23, 2011
A terminally slow and boring satire of network television. It's got a few funny moments here and there ("Man, give her the f***ing overhead clause") but there's just too much slow moving drama and way too much pseudo-cerebral dialogue to keep me interested. I'll stick to Broadcast News which isn't exactly the satire critics say it is but it's certainly a MUCH more entertaining look at the TV business.
Super Reviewer
August 12, 2011
Sidney Lument's "Network" is one of my top 5 favorite films. You'll be hard-pressed to find anything as good as this. Honestly, this is a brilliant, tour de force, masterpiece featuring one of the best original screenplays ever written (courtesy of the great Paddy Chayefsky). Wildly prophetic, scathingly funny and featuring some of the best acting you'll ever come across (Faye Dunaway sends chills down my spine), "Network" is a bon-a-fide classic and a all-time personal favorite.
Super Reviewer
July 5, 2011
A flawlessly written deconstruction of the television industry, concerning a raving lunatic of an anchor (Peter Finch) and how the network he works for exploits his obvious insanity for higher profits and excellent ratings. In addition to the fabulous plotting, the thing that really keeps this film intriguing is the stellar dialogue, delivered by magnificent actors at the top of their respected games. Dunaway's performance is the real show-stealer, as a television head whose entire life is ruled by the tube, and as a result it destroys her relationship with a once-committed family man (William Holden), who is starting to realize his career in television was just a big waste itself. Definitely a satire with ferocious bite, and an ending completely out of left field - this movie remains a force throughout its duration.
Super Reviewer
½ August 8, 2010
Network does not rip images from the televison screen and cram them down your throat. Instead, it shows what happens behind the scenes of the programs we as Americans view every day. Howard Beale (Finch) starts out as a depressed and suicidal newscaster, blatantly rousing his network (UBC) for his last hurrah. This exploitation is at first cause for reprimand, but slowly evolves into a staked claim for a share in ratings. So begings the saga of The Howard Beale show, half political diatribe/ half ranting, raving, soliloquy. Though he is left to range free as long as the audience keeps yelling his catchphrase, when he steps out of line he is chastised by the network head (Beatty) in one of the scariest tirades I've ever come across. Behind the scenes is Diana Christensen (Dunaway), from a generation that can't hold still long enough to stay on one channel, her programming and profiteering of Beale, and the network's lineup for the coming fall, sicken even the strongest stomaches. She is autonomous, without love or direction, she is holstered to William Holden's character for the only comfort and human companionship she can scrounge up. In my own opinion, the Oscars were incorrectly swept in 1976. The loss by Holden is inconceivable, and the historic win of Beatrice Straight, with only five minutes onscreen, is a rebuff of cinematic justice. A rousing commentary, and social invective, this is one of the most original films of the decade.
Super Reviewer
½ May 1, 2011
Network is an engaging look at the cutthroat world of television, with an amazing (if somewhat overwrought) script by Paddy Chayefsky. It's great to see that a film with so much real drama can also have impeccable comic timing. Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, Ned Beatty, Marlene Warfield and especially Faye Dunaway are incredible, despite the fact that it's nearly impossible to identify with any of the characters they portray.
Super Reviewer
October 25, 2006
Every other time I've seen Network I've been able to view it with some level of denial and convince myself that things can't possibly be this deranged. Not this time. While last night's viewing was a more enriching one, I was left with an ominous feeling of defeat knowing that things were this bad for much longer than I thought, if not always. Not to say that Network is a manifesto for pessimism but the cruelty, the magnificent acting Chayefsky's brilliant writing and the highly questionable and alleged satire are all astonishing and proof that Network was light years ahead of its time.
Super Reviewer
June 20, 2010
"We're not a respectable network. We're a whorehouse network, and we have to take whatever we can get."

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.
Super Reviewer
½ January 24, 2011
I absolutely love Howard Beale. It's primarily because I hate him - how is it that Paddy Chayefsky, in creating this overwhelmingly intelligent and charismatic mad prophet, seemed to have predicted all of the demagogues that populate our airwaves now? He is dangerous because he is visible, and all of the broad doom-mongering he spews preys on the fears of the uneducated viewer, his entreaties to scream out the window and rail against the world a placebo for actually addressing the issues that all us common folk face. He's a Glenn Beck, a Bill O'Reilly, a supposed voice of clarity in the madness that simply cultivates a following through misinformation and subjective truth. Surely he doesn't realize the nonsense he's spewing (though Peter Finch, in his feverishly arrogant, wild-eyed performance, absolutely does) - in the throes of dementia, he feels he's personally ascended to some state of divine revelation, and his associates at the news station make a spectacle of him. There's so much to take in here: the irresponsibility that they all exhibit in knowing that he has a problem but letting him run away with it, the commodification of mental illness as entertainment for the people, the preoccupation of everyone at the station with making a new big hit instead of helping out their coworker. The lack of humanity on display is totally unsettling, and through this character, Network is able to communicate so many different things so efficiently.

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.
Super Reviewer
March 2, 2011
great cast...Faye Dunaway,William Holden,Peter Finch and Robert Duvall...
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.
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2010
A fantastic drama about the world of television newscasters. The actors are great, the dialogue is engaging, and there are many memorable, outrageous, emotional scenes. I love this movie, and I highly recommend it.
Super Reviewer
½ May 17, 2007
When a veteran news anchorman has a mental breakdown on screen and becomes an overnight sensation, the network's amoral executives set about exploiting him for much needed ratings. This social satire on the state of the media and its unhealthy influence on the general population is regarded as one of the greatest screenplays ever produced and it is still amazingly sharp and insightful even within the context of today. It's technically flawless with superb performances from William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall and Peter Finch, delivering some of the sharpest dialogue ever committed to celluloid. It's strange how relevant it all seems as the same kind of inter-generational technophobic paranoia about the state of mankind that was aimed at television at the time when this film was made can just as easily be applied to the impact the internet has had in recent times. Of course, the population has had another three decades to continue the tranformation into vacuum packed, spoonfed humanoids and so its very dense and wordy approach may be lost on the attention span of the POTC generation; even I must admit that I found it a little self-superior and the soap opera romantic elements felt a bit forced, but it is one of those films a true cinephile has to see for the sheer cinematic skill on display. A classic satire that rings as true today as when it was written.
Super Reviewer
April 3, 2008
One of the best films of the 1970's.
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