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Remembering: Network

Remembering: Network
American satirical film directed by Sidney Lumet
Starring Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway,
William Holden and Robert Duvall
Released November 27, 1976
by Lisa McDonald
Live Music Head

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Howard Beale is a human being god dammit! His life has value! Upon seeing this film in ‘76, how many people in real life d’ya think did what Howard said, and got up out of their chairs, threw open their windows and yelled out: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”?

Over the last thirty-seven years, the phrase has become firmly embedded in our culture. And the late-great Peter Finch will forever be linked to it for uttering those words in his brilliant portrayal of Beale, evening news anchor for UBS, The Union Broadcasting System. The outburst was a reaction to the television network forcing Beale out of his job. And because his job is the only thing in his life that he’s got going for himself, Beale tells his viewers on national television that he will kill himself within a week’s time. Television was never the same again.

Satire, black comedy, dramady, however you wish to label it, Network is a film that was selected in the year 2000, for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

The film’s dialogue, which comes off more like individual speeches, is incredible. And only the best actors deliver them. When the network news division president (William Holden) confesses to his wife that he’s having an affair with the opportunistic soul-less head of television programming (Faye Dunaway), Beatrice Straight in her role as Louise Schumacher, won an Academy Award for her emotional response to losing her husband. And the scene for which Straight appeared was only five minutes and 40 seconds long. Oddly enough, Finch died in real life from a heart attack mere months after the picture was released. His widow accepted his posthumous award for Best Actor.

The message of the film according to the writer Paddy Chayefsky (as he told it to Dinah Shore): “How do you preserve yourself in a world where life doesn’t really mean much anymore? It’s how I feel about the world around me. And it’s what writers do. They write about themselves, which seems to express the feelings of a lot of other people.” Faye Dunaway looked back at the film and had this to say: “The films of the 70s had a sense of story and originality that certainly isn’t true of studio films today.”

A film about corruption, extreme exploitation, and de-humanization, Network won four Academy Awards, but not for Best Picture. That’s because it was up against Rocky!

The trailer for Network...



 

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