User Reviews (335)

  • Andrea Orsini20 January 2008
    10/10
    A Prophet known as Paddy Chayefsky
    To think that this blackest of black comedies was made in 1976 could only means two things: 1) Nothing has changed or 2) Paddy Chayefsky was seeing the future with the most disturbing clarity. I endorse the later of the two because I believe things have changed since 1974 - I wasn't born yet, but I know because of my parents, the movies, literature, etc, etc, etc. Peter Finch as the mad prophet of the airwaves gives Chayefsky a riveting and powerful voice. The scenes between old chums Finch and William Holden are some of the best written scenes in any American movie until the Coen brothers emerged. Finch is superb, superb! and Holden, at the end of a legendary career, gives a performance of such ferocious sincerity that I rediscovered the man, the actor and felt the need to revisit some of his opus. From Golden Boy to Sunset Boulevard, Holden was a man who carried his own discomfort as a weapon. Extraordinary! However, the most alarming character in the whole thing is Faye Dunaway's. She is magnificent in her thin, nervous, bra-less attitude. She is a monster of commercial amorality. Everything in this incredible movie moves with the precision of an inspired clairvoyant's vision. Duvall's executive, Beatrice Straight's betrayed wife and Ned Beatty's god like big shot makes this one of the most frightening, entertaining, funniest, remarkable film from the 70's. Sidney Lumet proves once more that he's as good as his material. Here he is at his zenith.
  • malikroberts1625 June 2006
    10/10
    It's so prophetic it's scary
    Now, here is a film that everyone needs to see, especially today.

    Children should be raised on the truth instead of fiction.

    Television seduces, entertains, divides, desensitizes, and corrupts not just kids but adults as well. It's gotten so bad over the years it's like some kind of a disease now. Most people believe everything they see, read, and hear. Fortunately for me, I'm not most people. There are things that I question and there are things that I know are very wrong. Lying to the American people in every possible way is very, very wrong.

    I've never seen anyone open up their window and stick out their head and yell that they're as mad as hell and they're not gonna take this anymore. I've never seen anyone say that they were a human being and that their life had value. We're so screwed up in the head we don't even deserve to be called human beings. We're like pre-programmed, numbered, clones enslaved from the cradle to the grave; clones that are programmed and structured to obey authority of all kinds.

    "Network" deserved the Best Picture Oscar for '76, but it lost to "Rocky". How the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences allowed that to happen is beyond me.

    That's all I have to say about that.
  • dead475488 January 2008
    10/10
    One of the best of all time.
    I can't put it more perfectly than Turner Classic Movies' Robert Osborne who said "What was originally a satire is a stinging mirror of television news today." I strain to think of a film that is a more brilliant take on society, and all of the flaws it has. It's obedience and entertainment by those who rebel, no matter how insane they are. The exploitation of those in peril for any kind of economic profit. And the fact that everything Beale preaches is completely true and completely bashes the people who are producing him. I was amazed by how much he sells out while continuing to rant about how terrible the people he works for are, and the fact that they just keep him on the air because they want ratings.

    It couldn't be more related to today. Turn on the news and you see videos of how horrific the war on terror is and how horrific American society has become, but it stays on the air because people don't want to see the good things in life. They care about the bad and the corrupt. People must have laughed it off back then, but it was such a foreshadow to the near future. The performances are just as brilliant as the social commentary. Each actor becomes so absorbed into their characters that you can't even tell they're acting. It feels like you're watching these people in their daily lives, interacting and becoming more and more corrupt. Finch and Dunaway easily give two of the greatest performances of all time. I could write 20 more pages about it's brilliance, but I'll stop now to keep me from rating. I just have to say that it's so rare to find a film as incredibly flawless as this.
  • dataconflossmoor28 April 2005
    10/10
    Guess What?..Everything is a Commodity!!
    Warning: Spoilers
    Groundbreaking is the term for this movie...It is considered one of the hundred best movies ever made and for very good reason...Director Sidney Lummet has a reputation for the director of the non-conventional!!...A cogency for making the absolute truth a guileless villain, a rude awakening for television viewers, and a stubborn scripture for facts is what purports a film like Network as a masterpiece for the prolific and intellectual!! You could not ask for better acting!! The acting in this movie is second to none!! Robert Duvall, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch, Ned Beatty and a whole list of others...Perhaps the best acting in any film made whatsoever!! It starts with Howard Beale (Peter Finch) a victim of his own human pitfalls...Ossified and dejected from his declining years going from bad to worse, he becomes isolated, desultory ,morbid and morose and feels his life has no meaning, he threatens suicide on live television and is discarded as being a wacko!!...At first!!..but guess what!! he's a hit!!...So the ratings crazed cutthroats make him an instant success by labeling him "The Angry Prophet Denouncing the Hypocracies of Our Time"...As long as we've gone this far, let's break all of the rules...Bring on the terrorists, the soothsayers, the insurectionaries, the financial gurus, the faith healers, and the para military radicals, to reduce the severity of hard bitten news to a side show of carnival freaks!!! William Holden plays the old school business man with "primal doubts" about his life in general..."male menopause" with "defineable features" He is happily married yet after being bombarded from all sides in the autumn of his years, he is frightened that the new generation is impervious to basic tenets of human morality such as ethics and compassion...The woman with whom he gets involved, is callous not because she is vindictive, but because she is emotionless!! This woman (Faye Dunaway) is the "Television Incarnate" Ice Queen who reduces time and space to "split seconds and instant replays" the daily business of life is a "corrupt comedy" and the only redeeming quality to modern marvels and a "radiant eruption of Democracy" is that it gets a 32 share!!...This acting performance is perhaps the best acting performance I have ever seen...The type of person Dianna Christensen was supposed to be was played out perfectly...The delivery of the elaborated monologues and diatribes were absolutely remarkable....She was ideologically explosive yet person-ably obtuse. You knew why she wasn't the drinking type...she was too emotionally detached...In the thick of women's liberation, whereby a woman wanted to be just like a man, this movie portrayed how being just like a man had it's drawbacks!! "Arousing quickly, consummating prematurely" and suffering from the cumbersome fate of being crippled by ineptitude at everything else but your work, made Dianna Christensen perennially wistful of testosterone laden aggression!! Aggregately, she invoked societal demise through channels of deductive reasoning!! Director, Sidney Lummet, was insistent that Dianna Christensen be utterly devoid of vulnerability!! Mr Hackett (Robert Duvall) played the hatchet man for the CCA...A rough around the edges errand boy for Mr Jensen (Ned Beatty) who viewed this network as his big chance and that whatever worked worked ..Scruples were never an issue, and ratings were pending exchange!! Howard Beale (Peter Finch) the "Angry prophet denouncing the hypocrisies of our time" surprised even himself with his charismatic clout with the naive television audience!!! He was the UBS star-lighted "Mad Prophet of the airways"...He could arouse anger and counter-culture overzealousness just by appearing crazy!!! One speech Mr Jensen (Ned Beatty) was a bit role but incredibly powerful in his delivery of the basic concept that ideology is for sale and that television is the ultimate vehicle for manipulation!! Paddy Chayefsky is pioneer with this film as an acrimonious depiction for making world phenomena such as the fall of Communism and landing man on the moon to be minimized to a market share!!!..The terms entertainment and egalitarianism now became pejorative!!!! The movie audience is hit with the terrifying reality that a societal caprice will induce the avaricious to capitulate to human catastrophe...Give Paddy Chayefsky and Sidney Lummet credit for unveiling the revelation that ratings and the dollar take precedence over humanity!!! Howard Beale, the decrepit alcoholic, euphemistically transformed to the prescient paragon of intuitiveness, was alright so long as his innocuous chastisements did not disrupt worldwide pecuniary acquisitions!! Once they did, he was quelled, and thus deemed a total ratings chart disaster!! Ultimately, Howard Beale, the once disheveled dipsomania-cal curmudgeon, turned Messianic Savonarola, becomes the typification of the corporate guinea pig!!!!

    This movie is avant-garde in it's ability to convey the message of greed first democracy second, or third, depending on the sponsors of the Howard Beale Show... An incident was determined traumatic or not traumatic by it's lucrative marketability potential!! Terrorism is not terrorism if it means ratings!!! The character assassination of all the people in this movie was at the grass roots level!! Their avoidable flaws were entrenched as irreconcilable!! Any people with any conscience whatsoever (William Holden & his wife) were decimated by reveille with selfishness, now it is imperative that they pick up the pieces!! How many imitations of this movie have there been...thousands!! Network however was the first movie of it's kind to effectively portray the concept of "dying Democracy and dehumanization" probably the best movie of it's kind as well... This is an illustration of how heinous tragedy has to be stomached by the television audience, their response to clinical trauma transcends the impact suffered by the actual victims involved!! It is a proverbial case of ratings eclipsing reality!! The film "Network" resonates itself to a point whereby the American people are reduced to meager by-products of the Fortune 500!! I wish there could be a movie of this caliber made again!! I am angry that there has not been a sensationalistic masterpiece to come around for some time, and I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!!!
  • Putzberger28 December 2005
    10/10
    We Have Seen the Future, And It Sucks
    This movie came out when I was nine years old, and I saw it on network TV the following year, lured by the brouhaha that surrounded the use of the "barnyard epithet" during prime time. I loved this movie before I understood it, and I worship it now. Like "Elmer Gantry" or "1984," it's a work of didactic art that only fails on an imaginative level -- Sinclair Lewis couldn't grasp how debased evangelism would become, Orwell couldn't foresee the excesses of Mao or Pol Pot, and Chayevsky couldn't envision the absolute decline of television from a vast wasteland to a malevolent sewer. Fox News, reality TV, even the OJ chase, "Network" anticipates every vile bit of it.

    Now, it's ridiculously overwritten -- NO ONE is as articulate as the characters in this film, and most certainly, no one who works in television is as literate as Diana Christensen (the Faye Dunaway character). I doubt that poet laureates or even Eminem could spew as witty an aside as "muttering mutilated Marxism." But damn if that isn't part of its charm. Plus, outside of Max Schumacher (William Holden), the characters are pretty much archetypes instead of real people (the Robert Duvall character might as well wear a black cape and top hat), but their two-dimensionality works as a good metaphor for Max's seduction into the "shrieking nothingness" or television. Plus the actors are so superb they make screeching caricatures into almost-sympathetic characters: Duvall is a credible and charismatic villain, Finch is a fine mad prophet and Faye Dunaway manages to make a shrill, manipulative, soulless neurotic so damn cute and sexy you'll want to leave your wife for her, too, just as long as she promises to keep sitting cross-legged on your desk and hitching up her skirt. (Therein lies the real eroticism, forget the intentionally mechanical, unerotic coupling later in the flick). Anyway, this is complex, high art masquerading as popular entertainment, go rent it now.
  • tfrizzell24 August 2001
    It Is More Than a Film, It Is Like a Crystal Ball
    Warning: Spoilers
    "Network". If there was ever a film that foreshadowed to events of the future it would be "Network". Much like "Midnight Cowboy" seven years earlier, "Network" was hailed because it took risks and it was like nothing that the cinema had ever experienced before. Both films were great when they were initially released, but few great films become so much better with time like "Midnight Cowboy" and "Network". The fictional fourth network of 1976 is UBS. Ratings are bad and the network desperately needs some new show to give them a boost to challenge NBC, CBS, and ABC. Enter the network's national news anchorman (Peter Finch in his posthumous Oscar-winning role). He, like the network, is going through a crossroads. His wife has just passed away, he is about to be fired, and he is slowly losing his mind. The firing is imminent and he decides that he will announce to the world that he will commit suicide on his last evening news broadcast. Of course a national frenzy starts, but Finch surprises all by showing just how crazy he is. Instead of committing suicide, he goes on the air and becomes a modern-day Moses to some with crazed ravings and outlandish statements that really are just the ramblings of a man slowly spinning out-of-control. Faye Dunaway (Oscar-winning) and Robert Duvall are the key people at the network who find a way to market Finch and boost anemic ratings. Finch is given a variety show which could be best described as "The Tonight Show" gone stark-raving mad. He gets on stage and basically says whatever is on his mind and the crowds love it. Co-worker and close personal friend William Holden (Oscar-nominated) knows that Finch is out of control, but cannot do anything and eventually is let go due to his disapproval and interference. Holden though has fallen in love, or lust, with the unfeeling Dunaway. Wife Beatrice Straight (in an Oscar-winning performance in which she has less than 10 minutes of screen-time) learns of what is going on and more trouble ensues for Holden on the home-front. Finch meanwhile continues his ravings as he hears voices in his head telling him what he must do each time he is asked to perform. Soon his act grows stale as the public tires of his antics and the network must always defend speeches that they themselves do not really understand. Finch's "15 minutes" of fame eventually come to an end, but not in the conventional way that one may think. "Network" is a cinematic masterpiece because it is so strong in the major elements of the industry. The acting is exceptional. There were five performing nominations from this film (Ned Beatty was the fifth) and three wins. The only other film to accomplish that was "A Streetcar Named Desire" from 1951. Sidney Lumet was great before this film, but he became even greater afterwards. This is arguably his greatest directing job. The screenplay by Paddy Chayefsky is one of the smartest ever written. It is insightful and has a real depth to it. "Network" was looked upon as a sort of "far-fetched black comedy" in 1976. However, "Network" is a film that is all too realistic 25 years later. In many ways the fictional UBS station is much like the FOX station which came on the air in the late-1980s and stole audiences with wild shows that were quite different from the other three networks. Reality television, perverted talk shows, and other types of variety programming run wild today. "Network" did not have much to do with all this occurring, but it is like those who worked on the film had a crystal ball into the future. A great movie that becomes greater as time passes. 5 stars out of 5.
  • nycritic22 February 2005
    10/10
    The Age of Network
    Warning: Spoilers
    Thirty years after its release to public praise and multiple Oscar wins, Network is one of those films that instead of dating badly or becoming a product of its time has actually grown and become even more relevant today, and if it were re-released in 2006 for its actual thirtieth anniversary not on film but on national television right at the beginning of the fall season (complete with the most lurid reality TV shows and inane TV pleasers), it would only become more justified in its story.

    The story of the failing network that didn't have a show on the Nielsen Top 20 and resorted to extreme measures to ensure that this changed seems so today: we see how channels that once had failing ratings churned out shock television right smack in the daytime while still applying Standard and Practices to other "prime-time" shows that could be taken the "wrong" way. Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Rikki Lake, Oprah, Mark Burnett, MTV -- they're all here under different guises, all competing to have their voices heard on television, all eventually becoming as ratings-hungry and establishment-friendly as the CEOs running the show.

    Today we don't quite have Howard Beales ranting and raving about the ills of society on national TV (although they do "tell" us how we should feel, when we should laugh if we're too stupid to get the joke, who to vote for, the "truth" about the tobacco industry). Today media is all the rage and televises even a fart if it deems it interesting and guarantees more viewers. Today shows like "20/20" or "60 Minutes" bring us 'exclusives' even if it's at the cost of journalistic integrity. And now, with 'reality TV' still the dominating novel trend even in little-seen cable channels, creating stereotypes in leaps and bounds while claiming authenticity of the events depicted, there hasn't yet been a need to create a lunatic who could sermonize everything and make us Mad as Hell. On this aspect alone NETWORK has dated: the 70s were all about counterculture, anti-establishment, revolution, leftists, Patty Hearsts, Lennon and Yoko, "Nova", the Mansons, the hippies, the Earth-lovers, the militants. Nowadays, buff bodies parade themselves in shows containing outlandish competitions where eating the most grotesque concoctions are the norm, or enduring a barrage of extreme insults has become entertainment (i. e. "American Idol") and the very concept of dignity flies out the window. Of course, after signing an extensive release form in which they free the network of all responsibilities if something goes wrong because we all know networks can't be held liable for any faux pas. In short, nowadays people from all over try to become the next It person and outlast their 15 minutes of fame. Nowadays, everyone has their own reality TV show depicting their 24 hour day activities. I wonder if Diana Christensen isn't alive and well and exerting absolute control over the networks in general, bringing anything and everything that can garner a little bit of shock value (Boy Meets Boy, or any reality TV self-made "villain/villainess") and eventual ratings, taking over actual scripted shows with real actors.

    NETWORK is a powerful movie of which I can't praise enough about even if its screenplay, by Paddy Chayefsky is a little too verbose. No one talks the way he makes his characters talk, using impassioned speeches with big, even archaic, words, and more than once the script makes the characters go completely over the top but even then it makes its point. Of the actors, William Holden's quiet portrayal of a former television exec, Max Schumacher, who has a conscience, but still feels some attraction to danger and risks his own family to experience is who is at the heart of this crazy story who was ahead of its time. Peter Finch's Howard Beale never comes through enough as a real human being: just someone who was pushed too hard and decided to shut down for the remainder of his life. But Holden holds the moral glue of the story, and interestingly enough, is wise to know that his affair, perfectly scripted as he even states, will end on a high note -- he'll return to his sanity and his wife, and Diana Christensen will bask in her own executive madness, since this is all she knows and holds dear. In her last words -- "Let's kill the son of a bitch." -- she informs us this is all she is about without so much as batting an eye. Who comes, who goes, is irrelevant to her, as long as the network can be number one. And that is the inhuman reality of television -- a media directed to entertain humans.
  • Christopher T. Chase28 August 2005
    9/10
    Prescient...
    It is the only word I can come up with to describe this masterfully savage satire, and IMHO, it's the only word that need be used.

    Once I had seen ALTERED STATES and read the novel, I was hungry to find out more about the late novelist/playwright/screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky, and sought out this movie. It blew me away years ago, but I find it even more stunning now. Not just because of the writing, Sidney Lumet's taut direction or the Oscar-caliber performances by everyone involved, all of which are almost beyond being lauded with superlatives.

    But what knocks me out is how Chayefsky seemed less to be writing from the power of his imagination, than channeling Our Times Now. As if he was capable of some form of mental time travel; able to look into the Nineties and beyond to see the coming of SURVIVOR, or Maury Povich, Jerry Springer, Bill O'Reilly and Paris Hilton. Even HE probably didn't know how he knew, but he sure as hell felt it and wrote it down for us to marvel over today.

    Sure, there are political and cultural analogies throughout the picture that are dated. But the core of his vision remains startlingly clear and eerily prophetic. As for Howard Beale, there is not one single "celebrity" who mirrors that character today, but maybe he is a composite of several different personalities with whom we have become all too familiar in the world of "news-fo-tainment." Or maybe he simply hasn't materialized yet. Maybe that is just how far ahead of its time NETWORK really was.

    After all, being "mad as hell" nowadays has so many more layers of meaning than it did nearly thirty years ago...
  • M-DAWG29 December 2005
    10/10
    Top-notch satire of television
    I just finished watching this movie and was blown away. Sidney Lumet's satire shows the hollowness of television and the mindless generation that is produced from an excess of it. This film is shocking and eye-opening also showing executives' mad quest for ratings.

    The acting in this film is superb. Peter finch stars as the TV anchor who becomes an "angry prophet who denounces the hypocrisies of our time." We gradually see how he first preaches to the common everyman, but is then exploited by the slick executives to achieve their one goal: Ratings. Faye Dunaway also shines as the Vice President in charge of programming who finds herself becoming less aware of the difference between television and reality. William Holden also lends fine support.

    As the acting and directing in this film are exquisite, the message it portrays is a very strong one. This scathing indictment of TV is necessary for everyone to see.
  • DKosty12319 February 2017
    9/10
    A Great Film About 20 Years After & Before It Was Needed
    Warning: Spoilers
    This film though not noticed enough now, is one of the great films. Peter Finch put just about everything he has into Howard Biel. In fact he died of a heart attack after the film was released and he was out promoting it. Certain films have impact, and this one still does.

    In a way, this is a higher budget, bigger star update of the 1950's film "A Face In The Crowd" starring Andy Griffith and Patricia Neal. Howard Biel is very much the character Lonsome Rhodes was in that film. The difference is that while the earlier film went totally off the deep end, this one stops at just the right spot. The issue Howard Biel highlights here of Foreign Money and Big Corporations and Big Government taking over the world and screwing the little person- well let's fast forward to when it happened after the movie was made.

    When Government decided it had to tax Senior Citizens Social Security benefits for starters as this requires some Senior Citizens as high as in their 90's to have to file income taxes. Then they are paying taxes on top of benefits they earned that were already taxed.

    Then in the 1990's, Howard Biel would have come in handy when NAFTA passed by a corrupt Federal Government, which had started in 1986 to offshore jobs by changing the Federal Tax Code, the working man needed someone to stand up and say "We're Mad As Hell and we're not going to take this anymore!" Black people needed it when a huge Federal Program threw thousands of blacks in jail during the 1990's too. Then when the Big Banks talked a willingly corrupt government in the 1990's into deregulating them, removing restrictions FDR put in place to prevent the system from another 1929 meltdown, we needed Biel again.

    Then in the 2000's, when big drug companies bribed a government into passing a drug law that made them wealthy and then allowed them to put out dangerous new drugs like "opoids" without regard with what they do to the public? Of course then 2 political parties who have disregarded any chance of term limits and have made themselves rich by sucking the taxpayers dry like kittens do their mom-ma cat?

    Could a real Howard Biel have really done anything about that? Unfortunately the answer is no, because the big corporations, big money, mass media and corrupt governments appear to have won since this movie was made. Even though there are 2 great films warning us this could happen, we are at a point today where a whole lot of little people are no longer counted in a system that is rigged.

    Yes, we should be "Mad as Hell" about it, but the out of touch media and those kittens living in a glass bubble still have not woken up as reality is being more hidden today than it was in 1976.

    With William Holden, Faye Dunaway, and a huge cast, Sidney Lumet brings off a classic here that even has cameos from John Chancellor and Walter Cronkite. This movie portrays things as they are. Heed the warning, and educate yourselves as to what has happened since 1976. Even today's protesters need to watch this to really understand what they are doing, and why.
  • Michael Margetis25 August 2005
    9/10
    "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" - Howard Beale
    #1 Best Film of 1976

    '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
  • Coxer992 May 1999
    10/10
    Network
    Engrossing satire from Paddy Chayefsky and Sidney Lumet about sensationalism and the almighty dollar in television. All the performances astound, especially Beatty as the tycoon who tells Peter Finch his ideal America and his ideal philosophy on where America is heading. The film is a fine mix of black comedy and drama, brought to life by Chayefsky's incredible script and Lumet's superb direction. Dunaway won a much deserved Oscar for her performance. It's a performance that makes your jaw drop to the floor from start to finish. She makes being a bitch look so darn good.
  • kirkintha264 September 2007
    10/10
    A rare honest movie
    "Network" is a fantastic movie that illustrates just how the "mob" and the media can exploit even the best intentions for mutual profit.

    Howard Beale (Peter Finch) is an on-air personality that, after finding he is not bankable anymore, snaps and starts to speak his own uncensored, and highly inflammable commentary about the hypocrisy of modern life.

    In his mad-hatter routine, somehow he sparks his audience's interest, and in a twist of fame finds himself, the not bankable as prime market share for prime time television. And naturally, his bosses and those who stand to profit from his actions, use his fame to better their own cause.

    Beale's rise to stardom is only one facet of this intricate story about how the mob influences media. Throughout "Network" we as the audience are constantly shown, to nausea, how ruthless popularity and trend mold what we see as consumers of entertainment. Most of the main characters are in fact trapped in their roles - and powerless to the bottom line, which is that media relies on advertisement and ratings to generate revenue.

    In fact, I believe that is what the point of "Network" is - this movie shows us, that "news" is entertainment, and how we as viewers (whichever demographic you are) are willing to suspend all common sense, class, independence, honor, integrity for a few moments of triumph or more pragmatically, how we relish tragedy.

    "Network" is too heavy for most people - it is meant for people who do not like TV, who think that product placement is ridiculous, and in general do not like to think of themselves as a "market". If you need your reality spoon fed to you, this movie is not for you.

    However, if you have had enough, and wish to feel for a moment like you are an empowered free thinker, i would humbly suggest that this movie is for you.
  • requiem18963 January 2005
    9/10
    A Cynic's Dream
    This is one of those wonderful films where everything comes together. The acting and the writing is by far the most impressive elements of this film. William Holden and Peter Finch should have both received Oscars for their performances, instead of just Peter Finch. Faye Dunaway pulls of the most dynamic and emotional characters she has ever played.

    The true brilliance of this film is that all elements of it fade appropriately behind the actors and their messages. The film is completely a work of storytelling and, at least for the writer, stunning clarity of message and purpose. Political films come and go but few remain in the annals of film because of their effectiveness at their own message.

    The cinematography, editing, sound, costume design, art direction and production design are all quite simplistic. In some scenes the film can be accused of being almost ugly. However this all lends to the back-washing of the film so as to allow the message to ring loudest. In my opinion, Sidney Lumet took this just a little too far and thus I give it a 9 instead of a 10.

    This is certainly a film for the history books. Every connoisseur of film should be exposed to this movie at some point in their life. If you happen to be cynical, then you will love every minute of this movie as its stark view of life in the 1970's (and onward) touches the hard of even the hardest of cynics. For those educators out there, GREAT film for classes on Media and Politics.
  • dataconflossmoor-122 November 2010
    10/10
    Madness And Mayhem Have A Market Share!
    This satirical masterpiece is considered, by experts, to be one of the greatest movies ever made. This website ranks it 197 out of the top 250 movies ever created. AFI (American Film Institure) ranks "Network" one of the top 100 American films (#66) to ever be produced. The phrase "I'm as mad as Hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore" is ranked the 19th most famous quote ever, in the history of the cinema by AFI. Last, but certainly not least, the script for "Network" is rated as the eighth best script ever written, according to discerning critics of the Writer's Guild of America East. This last accolade is one for which I wholeheartedly concur with. Originally, the film "Network", was inspired by an incident which involved a possible corporate takeover of the ABC News Division back in 1970. The entire matter of a corporate takeover of a network news division initiated an outburst of creative genius from Paddy Chaefsky (The writer of "Network") to address the dubious repercussions of such a corporate megalomaniac's scenario. Should a corporation take over a major network's news division, the ultimate goal of huge profits would compromise the journalistic integrity of the news, as well as the news' tenacious objective for hard bitten accuracy! The film "Network" became a cult sensation which fascinated the movie audience. The traumas of terrorism and apocalyptic catastrophe are reduced to numbers on a conceptualization analysis chart which crossed the table of a Madison Avenue boardroom! Their degree of doom and despair is measured in terms of marketability potential! Tummultuous radicalism became relegated to the mundane process of contractual consent decree. Basically, Howard Beale was a deteriorating news anchorman for UBS whose neurotic compulsions escalated into a Nielson ratings bonanza. Within the realm of exaggeration, all occurrences in this movie were acrimoniously plausible! The unprecedented talent in "Network" is unbelievable. Sidney Lumet, was a director who was driven by the uncompromising efforts of New York Theatre. Peter Finch, and Faye Dunaway, were performers who had an enormous amount of theatrical experience, this was advantageous to the support of their roles in "Network". Other performers in this film, William Holden, and Robert Duvall, were actors who were known for their straight shooter intensity, and, their ability to cogently focus! "Network" was a film which depicted a bevy of left wing coups and wanted criminals to be an auspiciously cunning carnival show for caricatured reprobates. Each character in the movie had their own brand of emotions; William Holden (Max Schumaker) was always afflicted with one sordid conundrum after another,this always left him ethically challenged. His wife, (Beatrice Straight- Who won an Academy Award for best supporting actress with her character)played the part of the proverbially injured party.Peter Finch,(Howard Beale) who won the Oscar (posthumously) for best actor with this role, became an overnight pop culture icon who was perpetually agitated. Howard Beale belonged in one of three places, Bellvue, Believe it or Not, or, the third one, which wound up being his choice; Prime Time Television. Robert Duvall (Frank Hackett) was the corporate yes man who thought everything could conform to a Fortune 500 pie chart. Ned Beaty, (Arthur Jensen) was the dictatorial disciple who explained to all parties involved that euphemistic phraseology and showbiz buzz words were simplistic subterfuges which corporations used to accommodate their precarious quest for the almighty dollar. Finally, Faye Dunaway, (Diana Christensen) was the television induced purveyor for ratings popularity.. For her, corporate callousness was a by product of lucrative business decisions. Faye Dunaway's performance as Diana Christensen was perhaps the single greatest performance that I have ever seen in any movie whatsoever. A performance like this, has the potential to spoil the writers of a movie script! Such esoteric dialog that "Network" possessed, straddles the fence of liability which can be made or broken on a performer's delivery. Such a stellar delivery of the lines in this movie, by Faye Dunaway, could very well be perceived as a windfall of reassurance to the writers, directors and produces of this film. Suffice it to say, Faye Dunaway won for best actress in 1976 with her role in "Network". The single greatest attribute which an actor or actress can garner with a part, is the quality of having a totally comprehensive control of the part in which they are playing.(Prime examples of actors with this quality are Al Pacino and Kevin Spacey) Faye Dunaway's performance in "Network" indeed, epitomizes such a remarkable feat! The ability to detach yourself from the mechanical persona which you have assumed in a movie, cultivates a zenith in professionalism, with it, emanates an idealistic state of mind! This performer's dichotomous isolation establishes a necessary bluntness for their character, thus making it easier for that character to be effectively entertaining! Faye Dunaway's portrayal of Diana Christensen was one whereby the utterly heartfelt responses of a human being were very derivative for her, realizing that, she confined herself to her work. The fact that she was impervious to compassion, devoid of vulnerability, and "insensitive to joy", was what made Diana Christensen's stilted demeanor vicariously devastating to any decent individual with whom she encountered! Director, Sidney Lumet, was vehement about requiring that the character of Diana Christensen remain academically ruthless all throughout the entire film. His purpose for doing this was to see to it that she would purport an essential mass media concept which made this movie extremely powerful. This omnipotent concept advocated a sub humanoid philosophy that unfortunately establishes rudimentary ground rules for the disconcerting and virulent world of television. This film was spectacular! Why "Network" lost out for best picture to "Rocky" is very inconceivable to me! Paddy Chaefsky and Sidney Lumet were brilliant! All of the actors and actresses were magnificent!! The fact that it did not win for best picture in 1976, leaves me with only one thing to say: "I'm as mad as Hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!!"
  • Robert D. Ruplenas7 January 2000
    8/10
    perhaps the blackest black comedy ever
    Warning: Spoilers
    When this movie came out in '76 I didn't bother seeing it because I rejected the premise as implausible; the very idea that a network anchor would go nuts on the air and become a hook for ratings seemed ridiculous on its face.

    Would that it were so.

    Today we have Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Howard Stern, etc. etc. etc. At the beginning of the movie a drunken Max Schumacher (William Holden) fantasizes about a show called "the Death Hour" comprised of films of car crashes, suicides, train wrecks, and so forth, to be put on Sunday night in prime time. "It'll blow Disney outta the f------g water!" he laughs. A few years back some network put exactly such a show - "Eye Witness Videos" - on the air. On Sunday night. In prime time. In short, as most everyone here has commented, "Network"'s horrifying vision - brilliantly written by the incredibly prescient Paddy Chayevsky - has been truly and frighteningly prophetic, and rings absolutely true today.

    The movie is a veritable feast of tour-de-force acting from all involved. In particular William Holden's wrenching performance as the burned-out but still sensitive Max is drop-jaw stunning. I feel he, not Finch, should have gotten the Oscar, though Finch's work is not exactly chopped liver either. And what a brilliant device on Chayevsky's part to make the lunatic Howard Beale the only one of the bunch with clarity of vision.

    That the film is intended to be a satire and a comedy is clear from the narration, especially the final comment about Beale becoming the first man to be killed because of lousy ratings. But it is without doubt the blackest black comedy ever filmed.

    A lasting legend of filmmaking art.
  • ackstasis23 May 2008
    8/10
    "What sort of script do you think we can make out of this?"
    Perhaps it was a poor idea, prior to watching the film, to mentally link 'Network (1976)' with Alan J. Pakula's true story of newspaper journalism, 'All the President's Men (1976).' Whereas the latter is an absorbing dissection of the go-getters behind the written media, Lumet's film would probably feel more at home alongside 'Dr. Strangelove (1964),' an intelligent satire that occasionally oversteps the line of credibility, but, because we've gone with it this far, we're quite willing to take those few extra steps. The film is a stern indictment of the unscrupulous executives behind television, and also society's own obsession with mindless entertainment. Diana Christensen and Frank Hackett may very well be miserly, immoral reptiles, but it is ultimately their viewers, us, who drive their crooked dealings. Lumet delicately places the blame on his audience; we are the "ratings" for which the networks hunger so fanatically, and it is the crumbling state of our own culture that fuels absurd endeavours like "The Howard Beale Show" {thirty years on, I think we can all agree that things have only gotten worse}.

    A perfect example of the film's style of satire can be found early on, after veteran news anchorman Howard Beale (Peter Finch) learns that he is to be fired in two weeks' time, on account of poor ratings. The following evening, Beale calmly announces to millions of Americans his intentions to commit suicide on the air in a week's time. The show's technicians idly go about their duties, oblivious to what their star has just proclaimed, before one employee tentatively ventures, "uh, did you hear what Howard just said?" The network, in their ongoing quest for high ratings, was so blindly obsessed with perfecting all their technical aspects that the mental-derangement of their leading anchorman went almost completely unnoticed. At first, there is an attempt to yank Beale from the air, but one forward-thinking producer, Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway), proposes that the network could double their current ratings by keeping him in the spotlight.

    Peter Finch, who was awarded a posthumous Best Actor Oscar for his performance, is simply explosive as the unhinged anchorman whose volatile outbursts of derangement are celebrated by a society which, in a better world, should be trying to help him. Beale's memorable catch-cry – "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" – symbolises his revulsion towards the crumbling values of today's society, and, as fanatical as he might be, most of his raves are worryingly close to the truth. William Holden is also excellent as Max Schumacher, Beale's long-time colleague, who resents the networks' treatment of his friend, but does little to interfere. Schumacher's adulterous relationship with the seductive but soulless Diana (Dunaway) consciously follows the conventional path of a television soap opera, ending with the realisation that his affair with the ratings-obsessed mistress is sapping him of any real emotion or humanity; in Schumacher's own words, "after living with you for six months, I'm turning into one of your scripts." Television corrupts life.
  • arthera098 March 2008
    10/10
    everything anyone would want from a movie
    Warning: Spoilers
    I loved this movie. It totally blew me away. My roommate recommended it and it was beyond amazing. The writing perfect and just created a world that was utterly insane, but more real than a lot worlds created by the movie industry. The whole world of network television is just put in another light when watching this movie. I was not alive for the heyday of network news, but it had to be so much better than it is today. Watching current news programs it is exactly like watching the Howard Beale show. It was scary and sad, but still managed to be funny. Funny in an uncomfortable way. There are a lot of layers to this movie and I have only watched it once, but I am sure a lot more would be revealed as I watched it again. First of all lets comment on the acting. Top notch and I see how so many Oscars were given out. At first Faye Dunaway's performance seemed too flat, but by the end of the movie one sees why it was acted like it was and it was perfect. The perfect tragic figure that did not change and did not learn a lesson just because it was easier for her to continue her life like she always have even knowing it was wrong and would never give her happiness. Nothing needs to be said about Peter Finch's performance except wow. The next performance that stood out was Ned Beatty and his whole scene was film perfection. As he starts his speech to Beale the shot is perfectly crafted and even being such a small spot on the screen he fills and it and gives a damn memorable speech that almost evokes Emerson (maybe not in tone so much, but it was still there). As he calms down the camera moves in, but he is no less engaging. I like how they managed, perhaps by accident, able to convey the racism of the time and in the media. The fact that the movie started out as a movie about a news network and managed to turn them into terrorists and murders in such a short period of time was amazing. The directing was amazing, but with such a good script and with such quality actors it cannot be hard to make such a masterpiece. Not to belittle with Lumet did because he made the movie from the start feel flat and by the end of the movie made it perfect. the best part of the movie was the writing. Top notch writing and one of the better scripts I have encountered in a while. I am going to seek out more of his movies and see what else this guy is capable of. Overall a brilliant movie and I probably go on about how it was perfect. I am not sure I can think of a bad thing about this movie.
  • Lechuguilla28 July 2009
    9/10
    "The World Is A Business, Mr. Beale"
    In 1976 when this film came out, there was no cable television, no internet, no cell phones. All that existed, apart from newspapers and radio, were three or four "broadcast" television channels. Since then, technology has exploded with a cornucopia of communication devices. Which renders the story in "Network" painfully dated. And yet ...

    The story's theme is as valid now as it was thirty-three years ago. The theme is that the ratings business has corrupted television, because ad revenue, and therefore profit, is tied to the ratings. Programs and events then, and now, get aired if, and only if, they are likely to result in high ratings. It's all very seamy, very dishonorable, very shabby, and very relevant to today's world of ten thousand channels.

    Though most of the characters in "Network" end up being corrupted by television, Howard Beale (Peter Finch) is one who does not. His vision is pure. And he speaks the truth: "... television is an ... amusement park ... a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of ... story tellers ... jugglers, sideshow freaks ... and football players ... You're never going to get any truth from us (television) ... We lie like hell ... We deal in illusions, none of it is true. But you people ... believe the illusions ... You do whatever the tube tells you ... you even think like the tube". Worse yet, people elect their leaders based on how they look and sound, and how their words are interpreted by boob tube "pundits".

    "Network" is a film wherein thematic import is conveyed almost entirely through dialogue. Some of the dialogue devolves into speechifying, which may come across to viewers as preachy. Still, the film's message was highly prophetic. Except for the film's climax, everything predicted in this film has already happened. And credit should go to script writer Paddy Chayefsky for his futuristic vision.

    Some parts of the film seem superfluous in retrospect, like the romance between two main characters. But the film has a sense of realism, helped along by the use of technical jargon and a general absence of background music. The film's technical elements, including direction, casting, acting, editing, and cinematography, are fine.

    As social commentary, "Network" is one of the best films ever made, despite a dated, time-bound, story. That "there are no nations, only currency" is becoming increasingly obvious, and as Ned Beatty's arrogant character explains in a frighteningly ominous tone: "The world is a business, Mr. Beale".
  • l-loch12 October 2005
    10/10
    Coming True ??
    Warning: Spoilers
    I first saw this movie in 1976 when it came out. I actually thought it was kind of funny. At the end when the announcer says something like Howard Beale is the first one to be killed because of bad ratings. But maybe it wasn't so funny taking into consideration the reality programs that we have on T.V. today. I still do, however, enjoy this movie and watch it whenever it is shown on T.V. I wonder how far the T.V. Networks will actually go in the future? "Kill the son of a bitch" might not be so far off... I do think this movie was far ahead of its time..Great dialog and the way it was filmed... Had a documentary style to it. Better then most movies today. Seems to hold up even though it is almost 30 years old. They could make it today but would have to add computers... No computers on anyones desk... However did they do their work?
  • EmperorNortonII30 April 2005
    8/10
    Network: A World Gone "Mad As Hell!"
    "Network" is the satirical movie written by Paddy Chayefsky, and directed by Sidney Lumet. The main character, Howard Beele, was a respected news anchor who hit a slump. When he's fired from his desk, he finally snaps. His ravings reveal the truth, and he is soon dubbed "The Mad Prophet of the Airwaves." Today, in the age of trash TV, "Network" still has significance. There are several aspects of the story that ring true today with TV news: the sacrifice of journalistic integrity in the scramble for ratings, and media bias fueled by sweetheart deals by rich special interests. Knowing that this exists in the world is enough to make anyone mad as hell.
  • Abby Watts23 November 2017
    9/10
    Only surprise is, it wasn't cynical enough
    Warning: Spoilers
    I recently rewatched this movie I've seen at least a dozen times and capture something new every time. It's a complete no holds barred hollowing out of the television industry, and, while television isn't the all looming force it once was (500 channels as opposed to around 7 including PBS and VHF and UHF at the time of this movie, depending on location), it still has much to say about the dissociation from reality that viewing things on a screen can create, especially when what you're witnessing is designed for the most craven response.

    Plot is quite simple: long time news anchor (Howard Beale) has breakdown after being fired and loses it on air, bigwigs (Diana Christensen) notice said breakdown brought in more ratings than ever before and nurture this tendency until a monster is created that is against their best interests ($$) and now must destroy this monster. All in the way this is portrayed is what makes it so much more.

    This is a deeply cynical movie, and quite prescient. A few years after this movie, the TV world was going to experience crudity on levels it had never imagined before. Morton Downey Jr. to Geraldo would usher in an age of the normalization of TV as spectacle, prurience and depravity we are very much still engaged in today. The kernel of the idea of capturing eyeballs with such content has simply been even more economically fine-tuned by other mediums, especially the Internet. Want to see beheadings, torture porn or video of people being shot to death? Sure you do. Diana predicted it. The natural progression of major character Diana's ideas are present for all to see. Only, it may not have been cynical enough in some ways. Could they have predicted reality TV? Or the endless line of meaninglessly competitive shows like Cupcake Wars? Jackass? At the beginning, it even toys with the idea of 'The Death Hour', filled with suicides and assassinations and car wrecks. We haven't seen anyone purposely killed on live TV to get ratings by a network, to my knowledge, but I doubt that is far away based on current trajectory.

    Not to mention the brilliant critique of business by Arthur Jensen's (Ned Beatty) epic speech to Howard Beale. We are all just a subsidiary to business interests, AS IT SHOULD BE. The richest 1% own half the world's wealth. This was not an accident or survival of the fittest in a meritocracy, this was planned from the inception.

    While the dialogue is brilliant, this dialogue is meant to convey ideas, not especially to capture how people really talk in various situations. It is more theatric than realistic. That brings us to probably the weakest part of the movie, the romantic aspect. It plays a parallel plot to the main one, and while it does serve to show that Diana is a 'Humanoid' in Beale's terms-seemingly human, but not really-it's also the weakest element. Hence, the lack of one star.

    A point must be made about Faye Dunaway. This is her greatest movie. Bonnie and Clyde may have opened the door, but this broke it down. She encapsulates the inherent cynicism and calculating nature of Diana Chirstensen (play on offspring of Christ?) with near perfection. Her sheer physical presence is something to behold as well. From her impossibly high cheekbones to her lithe figure wrapped in chic 70's elegance, she steals every scene she's in. Just do yourself a favor and don't look up her more recent pics, plastic surgery is not her friend.

    Will young people like this movie? Not if they want a fist bumping silly night, but if they sense they are being manipulated and want to know why, this is one place that was at ground zero.
  • islander-1426 September 2007
    9/10
    He did it again.
    Sidney Lumet is a Hollywood careerist whose imprint on his great corpus of work is so subtle as to be almost anonymous. Apart from being engrossingly valid and entertaining films it is hard to draw a thread between 12 Angry Men, Serpico, Equus, Network, Dog Day Afternoon and House of Games. This is a film maker who has that talent that eludes journalists the capacity to make his work look like it is without comment. And yet of course Sidney Lumet wants to tell us something all the time, he just wants to make sure he doesn't look like he is.

    This film is uncannily prescient. Decades before Jerry Springer and the other tragic bottoms of barrels American TV managed to reach; decades before the drama of Dan Rather's retirement and the feud with CBS and the ratings shifts before and after he left; before 'reality' television became a genre, there was Network. This is hardly a satirical look at the visceral innards of TV management. This is what today's TV would probably not hesitate to pass as a re-enactment of probable fact. Those last two words are admittedly contradictory but the literary tool of the oxymoron here, I believe, is perfectly legitimate.

    The story unfolds at a fourth fictitious nationwide network UBS where veteran newscaster Howard Beale competes for ratings with Walter Cronkite and the rest of the real and existing networks. The ratings keep failing and Beale is staring in the face of his retirement. His depression gives him a nervous breakdown and on live TV, a week before his last broadcast, he announces to his audience that a week later he would blow his brains out on the evening news.

    There's a spine-chillingly accurate telling of this scene. While he's speaking out to his live audience, the crew inside the mixer box completely miss this outburst. They're really only interested in the running order of tapes and graphic cuts and that timing is accurate to fit in with the advert breaks of the affiliates. I've been in one of those mixing rooms a few times. That's exactly how it works.

    Anyway Beale is being taken off the air but this is a time of changes in network management and the public's obvious interest in the spectacle of a rigid, cheerless newscaster they've known for 11 years parroting the news now gone completely insane on live TV is no reason to remove him for the new kids on the management. The old guard is represented by Max Schumacher who feels sympathy for Beale because he too is on the way out. UBS has been taken over by a new conglomerate and the heavy financial cost of the news-department needs now to be neutralised by the cuts and control of business-minded, ambitious and young Frank Hackett for whom 'the business of management is management' and news needs to fit under management.

    Frank Hackett is the new guard. Him and Diana Christensen. Now there are two characters for the movies. From this film everyone remembers Peter Finch playing Howard Beale 'mad as hell': that over-the-top hysteria that flirts with the limits of the audiences' psychological closure. But Robert Duvall and Faye Dunaway are also 'mad as hell'. These are the workaholic, performance-obsessed yuppies we know from every office. In the three-way scene when Hackett fires Schumacher (how well William Holden aged), Hackett's madness becomes transparent. As the prize of promotion to the corporation board is within his sight nothing would stop him: not the need to shout, to bully, even to kill.

    But Dunaway's Christensen is the ultimate yuppie. She is so engrossed by work that when Schumacher cannot take her obsession any more and leaves her he articulates the meaninglessness of her existence. 'There's nothing left in you that I can live with. You're one of Howard's humanoids. If I stay with you, I'll be destroyed. Like Howard Beale was destroyed. Like Laureen Hobbs was destroyed. Like everything you and the institution of television touch is destroyed. You're television incarnate, Diana: Indifferent to suffering; insensitive to joy. All of life is reduced to the common rubble of banality. War, murder, death are all the same to you as bottles of beer. And the daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensations of time and space into split seconds and instant replays. You're madness, Diana. Virulent madness. And everything you touch dies with you. But not me. Not as long as I can feel pleasure, and pain... and love.' That's the thing with this film. It's not afraid of words. It confronts the banality of television with the articulation of better cinema. Admittedly this is the world before The West Wing, 24, The Sopranos, Six Feet Under et alia.

    Check out Beatrice Straight's Oscar winning 5-minute performance as the scorned wife of Max Shumacher. Aided by competent writing, she brings out the complete arc of a character married for 25 years and abandoned for another woman within seconds of our first introduction: and we feel we've known her for ever.

    Sidney Lumet did it again.
  • evanston_dad27 August 2007
    9/10
    Sidney Lumet Sees Into the Future of American Broadcasting
    "Network" is hard to describe.

    It's not hard to see why Sidney Lumet's acidic tirade about American news networks caused a sensation back when it was released. The famous refrain that becomes the mantra of Peter Finch's character, a news anchor who has lost his stomach for the kind of crap he's asked to spew out night after night and decides to do something about it, is "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" This could have been the refrain for America at large in 1976, after assassinations, a failed military conflict and political scandals had pretty much decimated any faith Americans still had in their nation. The fact that that same phrase could be a refrain for America today shows how ahead of its time and relevant this movie was and is. The story seemed outrageous then. Finch's character decides that he's going to kill himself on network television, and the network chief, played by Faye Dunaway in a blistering ball-buster performance, rather than react in horror, sees only the potential for sky-high ratings and a boost to her career. Sadly, in this age of reality television and sensationalistic journalism, the premise no longer seems very outrageous.

    So as a satire I think "Network" holds up expertly, but as a movie, I think it shows its age. Paddy Chayefsky, who wrote the screenplay, stages the film's action as a series of monologues and speeches, and the overall result can be a bit tedious, like a film version of an essay. The writing feels like it might work better on stage than on screen. But Sidney Lumet, who was coming off a high with "Dog Day Afternoon" the year before, happens to be a director who's always had a knack for giving stagey material a cinematic quality, so he's perfectly matched with Chayefsky. And there are no quibbles with the acting. Finch and Dunaway are fierce and get the showiest moments, but Robert Duvall and William Holden, in quieter roles, do outstanding work as well. Ned Beatty and Beatrice Straight give two of the smallest Oscar-nominated performances ever. Both each have essentially one scene, but both do quite memorable things with them, and Beatty's in particular is one of the most grotesquely fascinating cameos ever captured on film.

    An essential film from the 1970s whose impact is blunted now only because the film was so prophetic. How many movies can you say that about?

    Grade: A
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