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Network (1976)

Ex-television writer Paddy Chayefsky turned on his old medium with a vengeance in this ferocious satire about a raving mad anchorman who becomes enormously popular.

The film opens during a shift in corporate structure of the fictitious UBS television network. This fourth network is struggling for ratings and turns its news division over to the control of its entertainment division.

Consequently, Howard Beale (Peter Finch), the aging UBS news anchor, is fired by the network. He reacts by announcing on live television his intention to commit suicide on air.

After a media frenzy, the next day he turns what is meant to be his apology into a rant that culminates in insisting that people go to their windows and yell “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”, which they do en masse.

Beale becomes a major TV sensation and one of the most valuable assets to his parent company, CCA, that is gradually taking control of UBS.

As a result, he is given his own show as “the mad prophet of the airwaves” and appears on television every weekday evening to tell the real truth to the people of America. The show is a huge success, but Beale uses his power to make startling revelations about CCA, leaving its executives with a serious problem.

William Holden is remarkable as the craggy and relatively ethical chief of the news department who sees but is unable to stop, the grotesque decline of news standards. Faye Dunaway tags the role of her career as Diana Christensen, the seemingly confident career woman who is coming apart at the seams.

The Motion Picture Academy awarded this hilarious exercise in television-bashing with four Oscars: Chayefsky for his screenplay; Finch (posthumously) for Best Actor; Faye Dunaway for Best Actress in her role as a ruthless program executive; and Beatrice Straight for Best Supporting Actress.

Ironically, the state of network news in the 21st Century has degenerated to such a level that what was posed as absurd dark comedy in 1976 has actually been exceeded by reality. Network will shortly need reclassifying from ‘Drama’ to ‘Documentary’.

Howard Beale
Peter Finch
Diana Christensen

Faye Dunaway
Max Schumacher
William Holden
Frank Hackett
Robert Duvall
Arthur Jensen
Ned Beatty
Nelson Chaney
Wesley Addy
Harry Hunter
Jordan Charney
Barbara Schlesinger
Conchata Ferrell
Bill Herron
Darryl Hickman
Sam Haywood
Roy Poole
Edward George Ruddy
William Prince
Louise Schumacher
Beatrice Straight
Laureen Hobbs
Marlene Warfield
Great Ahmed Kahn
Arthur Burghardt
George Bosch
John Carpenter
Mary Ann Gifford
Kathy Cronkite
Joe Donnelly
Ed Crowley
Walter C. Amundsen
Jerome Dempsey
Milton K. Steinman
Gene Gross
Jack Snowden
Stanley Grover
Caroline Schumacher
Cindy Grover
Arthur Zangwill
Mitchell Jason
Merrill Grant
Ken Kercheval
Tommy Pellegrino
Michael Lipton
Willie Stein
Michael Lombard
Herb Thackeray
Pirie Macdonald
Bernard Pollock
Helen Miggs
Sasha von Scherler
Robert McDonough
Lane Smith
Ted Sorel

Sidney Lumet