Written by Paddy Chayefsky
Directed by Sydney Lumet
I love Network.
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Written by Paddy Chayefsky
Finch plays Howard Beale, the news anchor of UBS a fictitious major TV network.
Beale is being removed due to low ratings so he announces on the air to
millions watching that he will commit suicide during one of his next broadcasts
so millions may watch his death. The ratings will go up for a while he says
with great sarcasm. This begins the movie and a roller coaster ride of madness.
Beale is removed but Faye Dunaway has other ideas. She takes advantage of his
madness and rantings about the decay of society and the need to express anger
over our lack of control of life. She succeeds in placing him back on TV
where he is a "mad prophet of the airwaves denouncing the hypocrisies of our
times." Beale appears to be a much needed catharsis for the American TV
public. He asks viewers to go to their windows, stick their heads out and
shout as loud as they can, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it
anymore!" Dunaway, of course, is interested in how many people are shouting
instead of Beale's mental health. Ratings! Ratings! Ratings=Money=Power!
Dunaway puts other reality based shows on the air that defy moral convention.
Her relationship with a terrorist group is priceless. One actress plays an
Angela Davis type radical to perfection helping to negotiate terms between the
terrorist group and UBS - Dunaway's network. Dunaway wants their graphic
footage of bank robberies and kidnappings in progress for TV broadcast.
Equally powerful is the affair between Dunaway and Holden. Here the star is
the unseen screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky. His words are biting and real.
Dunaway and Holden have a painful honesty about their relationship. They are
able to crawl out of their bodies and examine the relationship as if from
a bird's eye perspective: they dissect their feelings of trepidation, they
wonder if Dunaway's need for Holden is rooted in her having a father complex,
Holden wonders if his desire for Dunaway is real or the last desperate attempt
of an aging man to validate his virility, will Dunaway discard Holden when
she has gotten the strength and fatherly love/passion she needs from him?
Holden gives the best performance of his life. I challenge his fans to compare
his films and conclude otherwise. It will be difficult. He expresses not
only great strength but a vulnerability only a mature and intelligent actor
can provide. Though Peter Finch won the Oscar (posthumously) Holden is the
master of restraint, revealing layers of complexity as they are stripped away
by: the soul-less network, the passionate yet unscrupulous Dunaway, seeing
his friend Howard Beale lose his sanity ever so slowly (it eats away at Holden
and we feel his helplessness), his ever loving wife who lets go of him
despite years of marriage (he loves his wife but needs the physical passion
Dunaway can give him).
The entire cast is flawless. Finch plays the mentally deteriorating Beale with
appropriate pathos. One may have a tendency to declare his performance as one
of histrionics but it cannot be played any other way. He is disturbed. He has
visions of "God" talking to him. He struggles to get his thoughts out. He
shakes. He spews forth his contempt of modern society and the decay of
morality. He faints. It is a harrowing performance. (When Finch was leaving
a hotel lobby in January of '77 for an interview with Good Morning America
he dropped dead of a heart attack. The director, Lumet, was with him through
the ordeal. His wife accepted the Oscar in dramatic fashion at the podium
about two months later - NOW THAT'S HOLLYWOOD FOR YOU.)
Dunaway and Beatrice Straight (Holden's wife) won Best Actress and Supporting
Actress respectively. Straight has asked audiences not to blink during
her time on screen because you might miss it. She is on for less than ten
minutes total time yet she was hailed by critics and she justifiably won the
Oscar despite the minuscule time allotted her.
Ned Beatty plays a powerful conglomerate executive who sees Beale
as a threat to the economic structure of the world. He consumes Beale with his fiery rhetoric.
He plays Beale like a mental finger puppet subjecting him to his control.
Aside from the three performance Oscars it won best screenplay for Chayefsky.
(It could have won Director and Picture but it was Rocky's year for that)
Please fasten your seat belt and prepare for an outrageous roller coaster
ride of biting satire of the highest order. I feel electricity writing of it. Rent it tonight.
Here are some famous quotes from Network. You should see the movie first, though.
Howard Beale: Ladies and gentlemen, I would like at this moment to announce that I will be retiring from this program in two weeks' time because of poor ratings. Since the show was the only thing I had going for me in my life, I have decided to kill myself. I'm going to blow my brains out right here on this program a week from today. So tune in next Tuesday. That should give the public relations people a week to promote the show. You ought to get a hell of a rating out of that. Fifty share, easy.
Howard Beale: Yesterday, I announced on this program that I was going to commit public suicide. Admittedly, an act of madness. Well, I'll tell you what happened. I just ran out of bullshit..It's all bullshit - the country, life in general, the world.
Howard Beale: It's not a breakdown. I have never felt so orderly in my life! It is a shattering and beautiful sensation! It is the exalted flow of the space-time continuum, save that it is spaceless and timeless and of such loveliness! I feel on the verge of some great ultimate truth.
Howard Beale: Television is not the truth. Television is a goddamn amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, story tellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers and football players. We're in the boredom-killing business.
Howard Beale: You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube. It's mass madness. You maniacs. You are the real thing - turn them off. Right in the middle of this sentence I am speaking.
Howard Beale: All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, I'm a human being, goddammit! My life has value! So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!'
Louise Schumacher: Get out, go anywhere you want, go to a hotel, go live with her, and don't come back! Because, after 25 years of building a home and raising a family and all the senseless pain that we have inflicted on each other, I'm damned if I'm going to stand here and have you tell me you're in love with somebody else! Because this isn't a convention weekend with your secretary, is it? Or - or some broad that you picked up after three belts of booze. This is your great winter romance, isn't it? Your last roar of passion before you settle into your emeritus years. Is that what's left for me? Is that my share? She gets the winter passion, and I get the dotage? What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to sit at home knitting and purling while you slink back like some penitent drunk? I'm your wife, damn it! And, if you can't work up a winter passion for me, the least I require is respect and allegiance! I hurt! Don't you understand that? I hurt badly!
I also love the dialogue between Holden and Dunaway:
Max: I'm the man that you presumably love. I'm a part of your life. I live here. I'm real. You can't switch to another station.
Diana: Well, what exactly is it you want me to do?
Max: I just want you to love me. I just want you to love me, primal doubts and all. You understand that, don't you?
Diana: [weakly] I don't know how to do that.
Max: It's too late, Diana. 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 Loreena Hobbs was destroyed. Like everything that you and the institution of television touch is destroyed. You're television incarnate, Diana -- indifferent to suffering, insensitive to joy.
Max: War, murder, death -- all the same to you as bottles of beer, and the daily business of life is a corrupt comedy. You even shatter the sensation of time and space into split seconds, instant replays. You're madness, Diana. Virile madness, and everything you touch dies with you. But not me. Not as long as I can feel pleasure and pain... and love.
Max: I feel lousy about the pain that I've caused my wife and kids. I feel guilty and conscience-stricken, and all of those things you think sentimental, but which my generation calls simple human decency. And I miss my home, because I'm beginning to get scared shitless, because all of a sudden it's closer to the end than the beginning, and death is suddenly a perceptible thing to me, with definable features!
Laureen Hobbs: He's plague, he's smallpox, he's typhoid! I don't want to follow his goddamn show! I want out of that 8 o'clock spot! I've got enough troubles without Howard Beale as a lead-in! You guys scheduled me up against "Tony Orlando and Dawn," NBC's got "Little House on the Prairie," ABC's got "The Bionic Woman"! You've gotta do something! You've gotta do something about Howard Beale! Get him off the air! Get him off!! Do something! DO ANYTHING!!
Mary Ann Gifford: You fuckin' fascist! Did you see the film we made at the San Reno jail breakout demonstrating the rising up of the seminal prisoner class
Laureen Hobbs: You can blow the seminal prisoner class infrastructure out your ass! I'm not knockin' down my goddamn distribution charges!
The Great Ahmed Khan: (Shoots a pistol in the air) Give her the fucking overhead clause!
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