Network (1976) (R)
"Network" is a mammoth picture. There has never been a cast that delivers like this film's panel of actors. What makes them such a force of nature is the script that they're reading off of and their interpretation of the lines. Not only do they understand Paddy Chayefsky's words but they add the human emotion behind them.
I liked "Network" the first time that I saw it but just after viewing it for the second time I am thoroughly convinced that it is one of the best films ever made. Now, let me expand onto that statement to say that it's not one my favorites list but I know that it's one of the best.
Howard Beale has been reporting the news for eleven years and now he's being fired. His ratings have slowly dropped and dipped until it came to a point where he wasn't going to be allowed to keep bringing his company down. UBS, the broadcast company, is dropping the hatchet on him but they don't expect what he'll do next.
After learning of his forced departure, Beale lets the world know that he will be committing suicide on the air in two weeks, on his last show.
While it takes a while for this news to pierce the skulls of the people running the show, the public goes crazy. He becomes a huge deal overnight. It's not every day that your news anchor tells the world he's going to kill himself live.
It's immediate and precise—Howard Beale has to go.
But the man running the news believes that he should be able to say good-bye to the world so he gives Beale another chance and once more the aging news anchor blurts out inappropriate and harsh things. UBS subsequently fires Beale.
But the vice-president of UBS decides that Beale should stay on air because the ratings skyrocketed.
Beale now has a platform to spew forth the propaganda that he believes is coming from an ethereal and somewhat divine source. This is when he yells the famous line "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."
This movie must have been such a gamble to produce because at the core of it—it chides the television world. It's very forward in its point—television corrupts the world.
For a studio to pick the film up was virtually cutting their own head off; because they're saying that they believe in a film that makes fun of studios like themselves....what a conundrum.
This is the reason why the project was thrown around before finally settling down at MGM.
The film itself has a weaker beginning with Faye Dunaway's character, the vice-president. She (in a typical 70s fashion) seems like she's rehearsing her lines...that is, until she really steps in to the character.
The acting here is superb and filled out all four acting categories at the Oscars. Faye Dunaway and Beatrice Straight both won (Straight's performance is the shortest to win an Oscar) as did Peter Finch as Howard Beale becoming the first person to receive a posthumous Oscar.
The film is frighteningly prophetic. Some of the quirks and oddities that are satirized in the film are actually coming true today. It's only been 40 years and already Chayefsky's vision is becoming true
It's a movie that will stick with you.
Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Posted by Micah Jones