Satire at its best, Network is an unforgiving critique on the greed of the television industry. Beginning with the end of a career of long term news anchor Howard Beale (a heartbreakingly frantic Peter Finch in his last film role); due to a drop in ratings, the film goes on to illustrate the fierce ambition of Faye Dunaway’s character Diane, who uses Howards vulnerability and disillusionment purely as a vehicle to attract more ratings. On the verge of a breakdown, Howard is put on air to rant about the state of the country and is exploited as a morbid freak show with startling callousness by the network executives.

Paddy Chayevsky’s script is absolutely outstanding and the rousing speeches given will make Mel Gibson’s in Braveheart look positively feeble in comparison. Combined with some exceptional performances from Dunaway, Finch and William Holden there are very few faults I can find despite a perhaps slightly long running time. Network is also fairly unique in that it is one of only two films ever to have won three Oscars for acting, awarded to Peter Finch and the first posthumous Oscar ever awarded, Faye Dunaway and best supporting actress to Beatrice Straight who uses her limited screentime to nevertheless make a powerful impression. It is only a shame William Holden was not also awarded one as it is undoubtedly one of his finest performances, though as mentioned Finch was equally as deserving. Dunaway is also deliciously despicably as an uncaring and ambitious executive, willing to condone anything for the sake of ratings and popularity, no matter what drastic action that might entail.

Strangely prophetic in its outlook, Network is perhaps more relevant today than ever. With an increasing callousness and exploitative nature, the quality of TV has most certainly deteriorated since the film was released in 1976. For the hungry cynic in all of us, Network really is the perfect sustenance; a must see.


Verdict: *****

5 Responses to “Network”
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  3. Geof Smith says:

    Great writeup, and perfect to go alongside my post on my blog. Following you I love film as well, and appreciate amazing writing.

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