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Network is a 1976 satirical film about a fictional television network, Union... more »
Published November 29, 2009 5.7k views More Info »
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Beginning as a producer of entertainment programming, Diana Christensen's desire to produce a hit show for the network results in her cutting a deal with a group of left-wing terrorists (a parody of the Symbionese Liberation Army, called the "Ecumenical Liberation Army") who film themselves robbing banks, footage to be used as the cold-opening for a new series based on terrorists for the network that she wishes developed for the upcoming fall season. When Beale's nervous breakdown-fueled rants suddenly start to bring in high ratings, Christensen convinces her boss Frank Hackett to merge the news and entertainment division, so that she can produce Beale's news program. This brings Christensen into contact with Schumacher, leading to a love-hate relationship due to their mutual attraction to each other in spite of Schumacher's disdain for her exploitation of his best friend. The two ultimately begin an affair, which leads to Schumacher leaving his wife of over 25 years for Christensen. But Christensen's fanatical devotion to her job and emotional emptiness ultimately drives Max back to his wife, warning his former lover that she will self-destruct at the pace she was running with her career.

Beale ultimately ends up going too far with his tirades upon discovering that the conglomerate that owns UBS will be bought out by an even larger Saudi Arabian conglomerate. Beale launches an on-screen tirade against the two corporations, encouraging the audience to telegram the White House with the message, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more!" in the hopes of stopping the merger. This throws the network into a state of panic due to the company's various debts making the merger necessary in order for it to survive. Beale is then taken to meet with Arthur Jensen, chairman of the company which owns UBS, who explicates his own "corporate cosmology" to the now nearly delusional Beale. Revealing himself to be quite as mad as Beale, Jensen delivers a one-on-one tutorial—almost a sermon in a darkened room that suggests to the delusional Beale that Jensen may be a higher power—describing the interrelatedness of the participants in the international economy, and the illusory nature of nationality distinctions. Jensen ultimately persuades Beale to abandon his populist messages. However, audiences find his new views on the dehumanization of society to be depressing, and ratings begin to slide. Despite this, Jensen will not allow executives to fire Beale as he spreads the new 'gratteau'. Still fixating on ratings, Christensen arranges for Beale's on-air assassination by the same group of urban terrorists who she discovered earlier and who now have their own UBS show, The Mao Tse-Tung Hour.
[edit] Cast

    * Faye Dunaway as Diana Christensen
    * William Holden as Max Schumacher
    * Peter Finch as Howard Beale
    * Robert Duvall as Frank Hackett
    * Wesley Addy as Nelson Chaney
    * Ned Beatty as Arthur Jensen
    * Beatrice Straight as Louise Schumacher
    * Jordan Charney as Harry Hunter

   

    * Lane Smith as Robert McDonough
    * Marlene Warfield as Laureen Hobbs
    * Conchata Ferrell as Barbara Schlesinger
    * Carolyn Krigbaum as Max's secretary
    * Arthur Burghardt as the Great Ahmet Khan
    * Cindy Grover as Caroline Schumacher
    * Lee Richardson as Narrator (voice)

Cast notes

    * Kathy Cronkite (Walter Cronkite's daughter) appears as kidnapped heiress Mary Ann Gifford.
    * Lance Henriksen has a small uncredited role as a network lawyer at Ahmet Khan's home.
    * Tom Gibney, a now-retired news anchor in Toronto, Ontario, appears in an uncredited role as a news anchor

[edit] Production

The script was written by Paddy Chayefsky, and the producer was Howard Gottfried. The two had just come off a lawsuit against United Artists, challenging the studio's right to lease their previous film, The Hospital, to ABC in a package with a less successful film. Despite recently settling this lawsuit, Chayefsky and Gottfried agreed to allow UA to finance the film. But after reading the script, UA found the subject matter too controversial and backed out.

Undeterred, Chayefsky and Gottfried shopped the script around to other studios, and eventually found an interested party in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Soon afterwards UA reversed itself and looked to co-finance the film with MGM, who for the past several years had distributed through UA in the US. MGM agreed to let UA back on board, and gave them the international distribution rights, with MGM controlling North American rights.

The film premiered in New York City on November 27, 1976, with a wide release following shortly afterward.
[edit] Critical reception

Vincent Canby, in his November 1976 review of the film for The New York Times, called the film "outrageous...brilliantly, cruelly funny, a topical American comedy that confirms Paddy Chayefsky's position as a major new American satirist" and a film whose "wickedly distorted views of the way television looks, sounds, and, indeed, is, are the satirist's cardiogram of the hidden heart, not just of television but also of the society that supports it and is, in turn, supported."[3]

In a review of the film written after it received its Academy Awards, Roger Ebert called it a "supremely well-acted, intelligent film that tries for too much, that attacks not only television but also most of the other ills of the 1970s," though "what it does accomplish is done so well, is seen so sharply, is presented so unforgivingly, that Network will outlive a lot of tidier movies."[4] Seen a quarter-century later, Ebert said the film was "like prophecy. When Chayefsky created Howard Beale, could he have imagined Jerry Springer, Howard Stern and the World Wrestling Federation?"; he credits Lumet and Chayefsky for knowing "just when to pull out all the stops."[5]

the movie has a screaming rant at some point—pointing out that Robert Duvall screams the loudest. (Her review was subtitled "Hot Air.")
[edit] Awards and honors
[edit] Academy Awards

Network won three of the four acting awards, tying the record of 1951's A Streetcar Named Desire. As of 2009, Network is the last film to have won three of the four acting Academy Awards.

Won:

    * 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

Finch died before the Academy Awards ceremony was held and, until Heath Ledger won an Oscar for his role in 2008's The Dark Knight, was the only performer ever to win the award posthumously. The award itself was collected by his widow, Eletha Finch. Straight's performance as the wife of Holden's character occupied only five minutes and 40 seconds of screen time, making it the shortest performance to win an Oscar, as of 2009.

Nominated:

    * Best Actor in a Leading Role - William Holden
    * Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Ned Beatty
    * Best Cinematography - Owen Roizman
    * Best Film Editing - Alan Heim
    * Best Director - Sidney Lumet
    * Best Picture

[edit] Golden Globes

Won:

    * Best Motion Picture Actor-Drama - Peter Finch
    * Best Motion Picture Actress-Drama - Faye Dunaway
    * Best Director - Sidney Lumet
    * Best Screenplay - Paddy Chayefsky

Nominated:

    * Best Motion Picture-Drama

[edit] BAFTA Awards

Won:

    * Best Actor - Peter Finch

Nominated:

    * Best Film
    * Best Actor - William Holden
    * Best Actress - Faye Dunaway
    * Best Supporting Actor - Robert Duvall
    * Best Director - Sidney Lumet
    * Best Editing - Alan Heim
    * Best Screenplay - Paddy Chayefsky
    * Best Sound Track - Jack Fitzstephens, Marc Laub,
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