Its that time again. When I try to ease the soul-crushing lack of quality film content you are hammered with in our current year with a stone cold classic film you may not have heard of or seen. Today it’s not my usual subject of violence and exploitation. This is something normies, and the more learned and discerning among, you would like. Network.
Network was released way back in 1976. The thing about this movie is just how damned relevant the story still is. (Editors note: More so than ever! – DY) Even now when watching it, the ultra black comedy of the film is so on point that feels a little weird. How such an honest film got turned out by Hollywood boggles my mind sometimes.
The movie starts with news anchorman Howard Beale learning from his old friend and news division president, played by the excellent William Holden, that he is going to be fired in two weeks because of bad ratings. The two friends get drunk and recall the good old days. The next night, Howard closes out his broadcast by telling the viewers that he will kill himself live on air next Tuesday. They try to fire him immediately but Holden argues to the top brass to let him apologize and have a dignified exit.
On the air the next night, instead of apologizing, he goes on an epic rant about the world and the problems with modernity. They try to cut him off but William Holden intervenes and makes them leave him on air.
This causes a ratings spike. The network decides to give Beale his own show after one of the upper echelon execs, played by Faye Dunaway, convinces them. Beale goes on to get a massive following as he rants nightly about America and the world. His catch phrase being:
“We’re mad as hell and we aren’t going to take this anymore!”
The entire thing spins out of control as Beale’s following continues to grow and then almost ruins a merger between the network and a larger corporation. As bad as I want to tell you more about the story, I can’t. It has to be seen with no further spoilers to get the full enjoyment of this darker than black comedy that doesn’t seem very much like a comedy at all.
Everything in this film is completely believable now a days. I’m sure it seemed so in 1976 as well. That is its genius. The cast is stellar. Faye Dunaway, William Holden, the coolest man to ever live, Ned Beatty, Robert Duvall, Peter Finch and a great supporting cast of familiar 1970s faces.
If you haven’t seen this one, give it a watch.