NETWORK

(1976)
With William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, Ned Beatty
Directed by Sidney Lumet

Reviewed by JB

    Silly Paddy Chayefsky.  Sure, he wrote the classic teleplay "Marty" but really... he actually imagined a time when television news would become entertainment, mass communications would be in the hands of a small number of corporations, and TV producers would put anything on the air in pursuit of higher ratings. What was he thinking?

     NETWORK is Chayefsky's scathing black comedy, which becomes more and more valid with each passing year, indicting the television industry which he helped pioneer.  A last-place television network strikes gold when their veteran news anchor goes mad and starts speaking his mind each night instead of delivering the news.  But what happens when he begins railing against his own network and their business plans?  Peter Finch is spot-on as Howard Beale, "The Mad Prophet" who becomes a public hero after he demands that his audience get up out of their chairs, open their windows and yell "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this any more!".  The rest of the cast is equally excellent, with a special nod to Faye Dunaway, who's rarely been better as an ambitious but amoral TV programmer who doesn't think twice about developing a series around real film footage donated by a radical terrorist group, hiring a psychic to tell viewers tomorrow's news or even staging a live assassination on the air.

     I wonder what Chayefsky would think if he were around to see the state of television today.  Would he say "See, I told you so," or would he get up out of his chair, open his window and yell "I'm even madder than hell now, and I'm not going to take this any more!". 4½ - JB

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