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Biting '76 satire with a media literacy lesson.
what parents need to know
what families can talk about
Tomatometer®reviews counted: 16see all Network reviews
Top Critic Reviews
Fresh: This is a bawdy, stops-out, no-holds-barred story of a TV network that will, quite literally, do anything to get an audience.
- A.D. Murphy, Variety, Tuesday, February 13, 2001
Fresh: The film's never been more timely.
- Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly, Thursday, February 17, 2011
Fresh: The greatest screenplay ever to remain undestroyed by Hollywood.
- Cintra Wilson, Salon.com, Saturday, January 1, 2000
When a veteran news anchorman has a mental breakdown on screen and becomes an overnight sensation, the network's amoral executives set about exploiting him for much needed ratings. This social satire on the state of the media and its unhealthy influence on the general population is regarded as one of the greatest screenplays ever produced and it is still amazingly sharp and insightful even within the context of today. It's technically flawless with superb performances from William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall and Peter Finch, delivering some of the sharpest dialogue ever committed to celluloid. It's strange how relevant it all seems as the same kind of inter-generational technophobic paranoia about the state of mankind that was aimed at television at the time when this film was made can just as easily be applied to the impact the internet has had in recent times. Of course, the population has had another three decades to continue the tranformation into vacuum packed, spoonfed humanoids and so its very dense and wordy approach may be lost on the attention span of the POTC generation; even I must admit that I found it a little self-superior and the soap opera romantic elements felt a bit forced, but it is one of those films a true cinephile has to see for the sheer cinematic skill on display. A classic satire that rings as true today as when it was written.
- garyX, Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Is Paddy Chayafsky a satirist or a prophet? This 1976 film about extreme TV, based on one of his stories, has nailed what TV is today in the 21st century. The story is as follows: Howard Beale, an old-school news anchor for fictional network UBS, is being fired for bad ratings. He starts a wave of publicity by first announcing that he is going to kill himself live on-air in a week's time. The ratings go nuts, the next night he goes on a rampage against the system, and the network decides that excess is just what the network needs to get out of the ratings basement. They turn Howard Beale's show into the lovechild of Jerry Springer and the 700 Club,with more ranting by Beale and a TV psychic. Other shows are also suggested...the "Death Hour" that shows executions, car wrecks, etc., and a show based on a video made by a terrorist group robbing a bank. Eventually Beale's ratings start to drop again, and an extreme solution to the problem is put into motion. Performances here are wonderful, with lots of Oscars to go around. Faye Dunaway is the programming exec so obsessed with her job that she even talks TV in the middle of sexual intercourse. William Holden is good as well, although in my opinion his role -- especially his relationship with Dunaway -- wasn't really necessary to the plot of the film. But it's Peter Finch who shines here, as the crazed news anchor Beale. His rant and call to the masses is now a classic movie scene. He's obviously losing his mind, and all the network execs care about is how his behavior affects the ratings. One particularly amusing scene to me is the self-proclaimed Communist woman (who is responsible for getting the terrorist group's show on-air) raising hell about her money and her ratings. The film ends rather abruptly, and it surprised me because I didn't really think it would end the way it did. As I watched this, I had the thought "Change U-B-S to F-O-X and this film is practically a documentary!" For every example of crazy TV idea someone had, I was able to recall a program made in the last few years that meets or surpasses it in sheer bizarreness. Shouldn't we be embarrassed by this fact? What happened to the idea that Edward R. Murrow had that TV could be a teacher? Come on everybody...let's say it together... "I'M MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!!!"
- webalina, Thursday, February 11, 2010