Retro Movie Review: Network

I'm as mad as hell...

"I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" shouted dejected and unstable news anchor Howard Beale on live national television. This line was made famous by Peter Finch in the 1976 satirical drama, Network. In fact, this line was ranked #19 in the American Film Institute's 100 Films... 100 Movie Quotes.

I've recently begun to stream Netflix selections through my Nintendo Wii at home which has turned up a lot of classics. I had not seen this movie in years so I had forgotten that it is such a great film, with great actors playing very profound characters. This film stars the lovely Faye Dunaway as Diana Christensen, classic film veteren William Holden as Max Schumacher, a young Robert Duvall as Frank Hacket and of course Peter Finch as the unforgetable Howard Beale.

Network was directed by legend Sidney Lumet. Incidentally, Mr. Lumet passed away today, April 9, 2011, as I write this review. He was 86.

Overview (spoiler alert)

Howard Beale is a veteran news anchor for the UBS Evening News. After losing his wife and turning to alcohol, the program's ratings suffer as Howard becomes further disillusioned with worldly social issues and the decline of good media . Beale's long time friend and news division president, Max Schumacher, informs Beale that UBS has decided to fire him, effective in 2 weeks. The following night, a deranged Howard Beale anounces on his live broadcast that he intends to kill himself on next Tuesday's live airing. UBS decides to terminate Beale immediately however Schumacher asks that his friend be allowed to leave the program with dignity.

Beale is allowed to return to his news desk but instead of apologizing for his behavior, he goes into another passionate rant. He encourages his viewers to open their windows and shout to the world "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" America does so and the show's ratings skyrocket. The powers that be at UBS see an opportunity to capitalize on Beale's incensed outburst and decide to exploit him as the "mad prophet." This was against the will of Schumacher who wants to seek help for his friend.

Diana Christensen is the cunning programming director who makes an advance at Schumacher while asking to further develop Beale's show. Schumacher resists exploiting his friend however they continue with an affair. Christensen then convinces her boss, Frank Hackett, to allow her to take charge of the news division, much to the surprise of Schumacher. Dirty deeds and cut throats ensue. Shady deals are being made with a terrorist group and corporate deals are going down with a large Saudi Arabian conglomerate, all for the sake of network ratings.

I will not spoil the rest of the film and its finale, since you should see Network for yourself. For those that were around in the 70's, you will be reminded of the political climate from the era. There is a reference to the case of Patty Hearst and the Symbionese LIberation Army. For the younger generation, you will see the corporate underbelly and blood lust of society that still surfaces in modern times.

Well... What do I think?

Two Thumbs Up!

This is an outstanding film that has stood the test of time. The acting, direction and writing were all top notch. Even the supporting roles were superb. It was nominated for numerous Acadamy Awards, Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards with a handsome complement of wins.

Acadamy Award Wins:

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role - Peter Finch
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role - Faye Dunaway
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Beatrice Straight
  • Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen - Paddy Chayefsky

Golden Globe Wins:

  • Best Motion Picture Actor, Drama - Peter Finch
  • Best Motion Picture Actress, Drama - Faye Dunaway
  • Best Director - Sidney Lumet

BAFTA Win:

  • Best Actor - Peter Finch

In addition to the famous movie quote, the American Film Institute has given Network nods in its other AFI's100 Years... series. It was also selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry and has recieved high praise from other industry guilds.

Network proves that you do not have to have a mega-budget with mind warping CGI and special effects. Simply good writing, direction and acting is all it took to make this an enduring classic; although I must say that the 70's fashions did not endure quite as well.

Check it out!

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Comments 2 comments

Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

I recently re-watched this classic a few months ago....I do not think it has aged very well..that being said....I love William Holden and Robert Duvall in this movie. Voted up...and welcome to hub pages.


BigSeanR profile image

BigSeanR 5 years ago from Albany, GA Author

Thanks for the feedback and the vote!

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