Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Two-Disc Special Edition
Actors: Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, Wesley Addy
Director: Sidney Lumet
Newscaster Howard Beale has a message for those who package reports of cute puppies, movie premieres and fender benders as hard news: "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore." Sidney Lumet directs Paddy... more »
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Karen Dallas H. (kikkilu) from CHICAGO, IL
Reviewed on 12/23/2009...
(c) Karen Dallas Hartig, USA, all rights reserved.
Being an artist (writer, painter) myself, having studied art extensively and seen so much of it, I know that the saying is true that art predicts what our society becomes in 20 to 30 years.
You just can't see a better parody (and not in too funny of a way) of the expansion of the corporation, not the individual (a fading "thing" of the past) and money, only money, as the only two things that have any meaning in the America of the 21st century.
When this movie was first out, I so happened to have a client in broadcasting. I told her about how astounded I was at this movie, and she said to me that broadcasting is very close to what this movie represents says it is: motivated totally by The Money--and, the ratings equals the production of more of The Money.
You see it all the time. Look at how many commercials, and for what products, you see as you watch TV. How many minutes do you spend watching blaringly LOUD commercials as you watch a movie, or a TV show? The more minutes means the more the broadcasting industry has decided that this show, "x," will magically turn more of us into the miraculous consumer-sustainers of the products that are in the commercials.
And it's so true: TV is a big, huge industry. The ratings determine which executives get paid the highest, what life style they can lead, whether they will become nobodies of the past or somebodies of the present and future. Just think of which newscasters held the public eye for how long, then ask yourself why. And do they get paid well? Oh, heavens, yes!
This movie's background is set in the time the turbulent early 1970s, what with all its power groups, the straw that broke the camel's back of the love flower power generation. Hate took the place of love via power. How does this particular network spin this time to capitalize on it?
Well, obviously, they put it onto THE NEWS! It just so happens that one Howard Beale, played so well by Peter Finch, who died before the Oscars and who then received the posthumus award as best actor of the year, is beginning to lose his mental balance, and the network manipulates that to the max. He so clearly sees the ills and woes in American society, and by his most recent news broadcast (I will not spoil this for you by telling you what he says on the newscast because you crack up, but you will probably want to buy a bumper sticker saying what he says to the public), he becomes a star overnight.
Meanwhile, back in the NYC office skyscrapers, the money mongers figure out ways to take Howard as well as any direly dramatic power [Women's Lib, Black Power] monger and make a show out of them, a highly monetarily (ratings) productive show. That's until the network gets bought out by a corporate concern. They decide that the ratings are not big enough, not producing enough money for them. So a man who was a very successful salesman (Ned Beatty, in his powerful first role) pulls Howard Beale into a dimly-lit conference room, and places him at one end of a 50-person table and himself at the other end. The table is dimly lit with those small, green-shaded, lawyer lamps. He's such a good salesman that he uses the light and he uses his voice and he uses his body almost like God to convince the mentally unbalanced Beale to take an entirely new direction, that which extols only The Corporation and The Money, on his show, which then begins to lose popularity, since Beale no longer is on our side. Rather, he makes the public feel that the individual person is unworthy of attention, being that only little pieces of paper called stocks, stocks and the Almighty Dollar Bills that the public used to purchase the stock that support the corporation that bought up the network, are of any consequence.
And of course there are soap operas in the background, made up of real-life stories that are played by real "actors," for instance, an older man, one of the station's executives and news directors (William Holden) falling in extra-marital love with Faye Dunaway, a psychologically messed-up top executive (wait until you hear how he breaks up with her!) of the large corporation that bought out the network--and we know what a master at acting Faye Dunaway is!
This movie is a ride! I don't know how many times I have watched it and every time, I can see what is going on with the world now, in 2009, a very close second to what the salesman sought it to be.
When you see it, you will ponder it later, thinking about what the politicians are doing: making the federal government The Ruling Class using our taxes, which are much like the money generated by commercial (concerns) that then drive up the ratings. The federal government is becoming a big TV station so sarcastically supported by the very media that broadcast stories about it.
And if you are at least in your mid-50s, you will recall the time that the individual had value in our society, and you will also remember the times back in the 1960s and 1970s when the companies that an individual had spent his entire career life working for began to think only of the Almighty Bottom Line and thereby forget the individual people that made those companies successful in a world market. That's when people began to be "expendable" in the United States. And now I wonder how my grandchildren will fare in this plastic society.
Do not miss this movie. It's a true gem.
This is a 6-star movie. Don't miss it.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Wake up and smell the cathode
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 12/27/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Paddy Chayefsky's 1976 blockbuster hit "Network" is, I truly believe, the best film satire ever made. It might well be the best film regardless of genre ever made in the United States, better than "Citizen Kane," better than "The Godfather," better than any of the other numerous contenders. The first time I saw "Network" was on television about ten years ago, a supreme irony that became more and more amusing as the film progressed, and the powerhouse dialogue, performances, and set pieces captured my imagination unlike any other film. I have since watched this film so many times that at one point I could quote large chunks of dialogue verbatim with the greatest of ease. Over the past several years, however, I haven't seen Chayefsky's masterpiece as often as I would like. When I decided I would finally tackle the daunting prospect of writing a review for this movie, I rented the DVD version and resubmerged myself into the dark world of Howard Beale, Max Schumacher, Diana Christensen, and Frank Hackett. And I rediscovered something I always realize every time I watch this magnificent piece of cinema: "Network" is as great a movie as it was the first time I saw it, and it's prescience to our modern world continues to astonish.
"Network" takes the viewer inside of a major television network, UBS, during the 1970s. Their prime time newscaster, Howard Beale (Peter Finch), has just received word from his boss Max Schumacher (William Holden) that the network is terminating his contract due to low ratings. Perturbed about leaving his position, and with nothing else in life to live for, Beale breaks down on television and promises his audience that he will kill himself on live television the following evening. Not surprisingly, this revelation causes quite a stir amongst the suits on the upper floors. Frank Hackett (Robert Duvall), the new overseer of the network since its acquisition by a larger corporation called CCA, threatens once again to clean house. Schumacher convinces Hackett and the other executives to hold off because Howard is essentially insane, and he even manages to get Beale back on the air the following evening in order to issue a public apology. Max has his own reasons for supporting Beale: the network is threatening to cut the budget of the news division in order to decrease the debt load, a decision they failed to notify Schumacher about beforehand. When Howard goes off on a rant about the sicknesses of American society the following evening, Max refuses to cut the live feed as a protest against the network's unfair treatment.
Hackett hits the roof, but when entertainment division chief Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) convinces him that Beale's rants brought in a record number of viewers, a new idea quickly forms. What if the network encouraged Howard's irrational behavior? What if they made a program based solely on his prophecies about the state of modern America? That's exactly what Christensen and Hackett accomplish when "The Howard Beale Show" debuts on UBS. In front of a roaring crowd, the former newsman raves about the evils of corporatism, the corrosive effects of television, and public corruption. At the end of each tirade, Beale collapses in a faint in front of the cameras. Audiences eat these histrionics up, and ratings for the show go through the roof. UBS is well on its way to turning a profit. Meanwhile, a subplot about Max and Diana plays out. The two embark on a tempestuous love affair despite their professional quibbling about Howard and Max's longtime marriage. While Christensen sets about creating new programs highlighting left-wing revolutionary activities, programs like "The Mao Tse-Tung Hour," Max leaves his wife and moves into Diana's apartment. Their relationship resembles a television program, and as Howard's ratings slip after he receives a readjustment to his worldview from CCA chairman Arthur Jensen (Ned Beatty), Max and Diana's union also falters. The film's conclusion is as cruel as it is darkly hilarious.
I've never seen, nor do I expect to ever see again, a film like "Network." Each element of the film fires on every cylinder. Time stops while watching this picture. The performances from major and minor characters are sublime, but it's Peter Finch who grabs the spotlight with both hands and refuses to let go. His Howard Beale raves, rants, gesticulates, and issues statements on the world that spellbind with their power and elegance. His monologue to Max about his mental state, his lecture to audiences about the illusion of television, and his take on corporate buyouts brings me to my feet every time I hear them. Just as memorable is Arthur Jensen's mind-blowing analysis of the true nature of the corporate universe and the ultimate fate of mankind if the citizens of the world allow his ilk to have their way. The film ends with Max Schumacher labeling Diana Christensen "television incarnate" because of her total inability to form meaningful emotional connections. In fact, the mindlessness and callousness of television, how it reduces every aspect of human sentiment and interaction to one-dimensional superficialities, ultimately destroys every character in this film.
I could keep going ad infinitum, explaining how Max represents the common man faced with the daunting task of giving in to his cravings for television (re: Diana) or simply turning it off for good by returning to the wholesomeness of family life. I could also examine how Chayefsky shows us television destroying not only those who watch it but also those who fill the medium with images, i.e. the decision Hackett and Christensen feel they must make concerning Beale's plummeting ratings. What I really want to do is fill this review with line after line of the brilliant dialogue uttered in this film. I won't though; you need to see this tour de force motion picture for yourself. And realize how much of it pertains to our society today. Mad as hell, indeed!
Strikingly contemporary even 30 years later
Jeff in Philly | Philadelphia | 12/14/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I watched Network again last night, for the first time since the film first came out. I remembered that it was a good movie with a lot of good acting, but given that the things this film predicted about television have all come true - and been surpassed in spades - I was expecting that its indignation over the commercialization of television news would seem quaint and certainly dated.
Good heavens, was I wrong. This movie hasn't lost its edge a bit in 30 years. William Holden as Max Schumacher is the only real human being, and he wanders through this film looking slack-jawed, as if he'd landed in Toon Town and can't quite believe his eyes. As it turns out, he has: the cartoonish, conniving antics of Robert Duvall and Faye Dunaway leave all of us laughing guiltily.
The screenplay emphasizes the comic-strip nature of these characters by giving them dialog that no real human being could ever utter with a straight face. The one sex scene between Dunaway and Holden is one of the most horrifyingly hilarious moments I can remember from any film. Add Ned Beatty - who doesn't say much through most of the film, and then erupts like Lucky in "Waiting for Godot" with a single, five-minute monologue that will peel the paint off your walls - and this is one of the darkest, funniest films of the last 50 years.
They should re-release this film in theaters. Especially now.
TERRIBLE TRANSFER OF A HOLLYWOOD MASTERPIECE
Nix Pix | Windsor, Ontario, Canada | 04/15/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The film which introduced us to the now legendary quotation, "I'm as made as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore," Sidney Lumet's "Network" is a scathingly brilliant and ominously accurate prediction of what network television circa 2004 (in particular the news division) has become.
When stalwart television news anchor Howard Beale (Peter Finch) suffers an on air mental breakdown he is encouraged to continue ranting as "the angry prophet, denouncing the hypocrisies of our time" in order to boost the network's Nielson ratings. Shifting the focus from hard news to factoid entertainment, the new Howard Beale show is the brain child of Dianne Christensen (Faye Dunaway, marvelously on point as the neurotic programmer). Dianne is an oversexed cutthroat who will stop at nothing to exploit Beale for a thirty share. She usurps Max Schumacher's (William Holden) position as head of the news division and later destroys his life and marriage with the broken promise of a torrid affair.
The cast also includes Robert Duvall as maniacal Frank Hackett, a shrewd corporate executive whose sell out mentality is successful at turning the once prominent art of journalism into its lowest common denominator - sensationalism. In an all too brief though nevertheless poignant performance, the late and very great Beatrice Straight delivers a masterful turn as Max's betrayed wife, Louise. The film's eerie clairvoyance on contemporary television makes it one of the truly outstanding American films of the 1970s.
However, Warner Home Video's import of a previously released MGM DVD is one of the worst DVD transfers I have ever seen. The film is anamorphic widescreen but colors are horribly muted, dull and incredibly faded. Flesh tones are so inaccurate that there's really no point in suggesting any consistency. Either they are a pasty pink or garish orange, but never natural looking. Contrast levels during night scenes are so low and marred by excessive film grain and digital grit that fine detail is not even an issue. Day scenes tend to suffer from over exposure and way too high contrast levels. Light browns, oranges, beiges and flesh tones all exhibit an undistinguished muddiness. There is also an incredible amount of film and digital grain throughout the transfer that makes for a completely unsatisfying viewing experience, no matter the size of your television screen. There is nothing, I repeat - NOTHING, to recommend this visual presentation. The audio is mono, strident and unnatural sounding. There is also background hiss in many of the more quiet scenes. The only extra is a theatrical trailer. This classic needs a complete and meticulous restoration.