The basic story starts when the UBS TV network,
that is suffering from low ratings, decides to gradually turn
its news department over to the entertainment division, Communications
Corporation of America (CCA). This results in the firing of the
news anchor, Howard Beale (Peter Finch). He loses his cool and
his mind on the air, becoming a media hero. His Network decides
to make financial hay while the sun shines and exploits this crazed
TV anchor, by letting him pontificate his ravings and revelations
about the media, on his own show, "The Mad Prophet of the
Airwaves." Through his wildly popular show, he reveals some
truths about the CCA, that creates serious problems for the executives
of the CCA.
My favorite scene involves Peter Finch as the
crazy newsman, Howard Beale, giving his famous "I'm mad as
hell" speech. Finch, who made numerous films, of varying
popularity, is best known for this unforgettable scene. In this
wonderfully "daffy rant and rave session," he urges
his viewers to go to the window and yell this now famous phrase.
The film's screenplay, though a bit wordy, is truly brilliant.
Paddy Chayefsky wrote the screenplay, which received an Oscar.
Chayefsky's unusual writing credit "by Paddy Chayefsky,"
as opposed to "screenplay by" or "written by"
was an example of Chayefsky's unusual clout, rare in a screenwriter.
His screenplay offers a satirical look at the TV media as a frenzy-oriented
entity that lives for ratings, as it strives to feed the public's
obsession with their art form, often using mass-market sensationalism
to make their goals.
Faye Dunaway burns up the screen as Diane Christensen, a driven,
amoral TV programmer. A scene where she makes love to William
Holden, while ranting about her job, packs much impact.
Ned Beatty does a fantastic job playing, Arthur
Jensen, who is a powerful network executive, the owner of UBS.
Peter died right before the Academy Awards ceremony,
receiving a posthumous Oscar. Other awards were won by Faye Dunaway
and Beatrice Straight. Ned Beatty received a nomination for best
If you enjoyed NETWORK you may like "Broadcast
"Dr. Strangelove," and/or "Bonnie and Clyde."