Another great film from Sydney Lumet after his masterpieces of “12 Angry Men” of 1957, and “Dog Day Afternoon “ of 1975, comes a year later “Network “ in 1976. Like his other two great works that are explosive in content, discussion and arguments, this film is the ultimate of any outrageous film in exposing the capitalist system and its spokes agent, the television. As Lumet has believed himself that a movie should be beyond just entertainment, to enlighten and move audience, “Network” did more than any of his films and any others’ films to the point of shock and surprise. The film is a harsh critic of the capitalist system, lack of freedom of thoughts and speech, all brain washed in the American people’s mind by the media and on the top by television networks to this very day.
Lumet, a director actor who started off the Broadway, directed almost any great American and international actors from Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Susan Strasberg, Christopher Plummer, Sophia Loran, Marlon Brando, Joanne Woodward, Anna Magnani, Katharine Hepburn, Ralph Richardson, Rod Steiger, Sean Connery, Candice Bergen, James mason, Walter Matthau, Simone Signoret, Maximilian Schell, Vanessa Redgrave, Omar Sharif, Anouk Aimee, Al Pacino, Anthony Perkins, Susan Sarandon, Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Michael Caine, Paul Newman, Anne Bancroft, Gene Hackman, Jane Fonda, Dustin Hoffman, Melanie Griffith, Jack Warden, Andy Garcia, Lena Olin, Richard Dreyfuss, George C. Scott, Glenn Close, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke, to name some. He pulled out of Peter Finch, a not very popular actor who acted on the screen since 1930’s, the best of his life career that unfortunately did not last due to his premature death just a year later in 1977.
Network: A Film that will never happen on screen again
Howard Beale (Peter Finch), a news reporter of the TV network UBS is fired after 25 years of hard work due to his lower rating. He has become an alcoholic and after getting the news of his career ending in two weeks, he tells his old friend and the head of the news department, Max Schumacher (William Holden) one evening when drinking together that he is going to kill himself right on his TV show. His friend doesn’t take him seriously, but when he announces his intention the next evening during his live show, that he is going to blow his head off right in front everyone in his show a week later, it shocks all in the studio. Beale is fired on the spot by the network, but Schumacher intervenes so him to have a dignified farewell, if he apologizes on live television. The next evening, Beale goes on live again and this time while he explains that the night before he was in a state of madness, in another rant, he describes his life and life in general being bullshit. This unexpected use of foul language and open criticism of the American life and television that has always been accommodating the system again enrages the network heads, including Frank Hackett (Robert Duval) who fires both Beale and Schumacher as well, for letting Howard go back on live TV.
Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway), an eager but impersonal UBS producer from another department who is after making any show at any cost and already planning filming a communist guerrilla group in action of their bank robbery and terrorist attacks, notices Beale’s photos on the front page of any newspapers and that the network’s rating that had been declining recently, has spiked overnight due to his outspoken show. She offers Schumacher to help him with the Beale’s show and make it number one, and the network one of the top ones in the country. To achieve her ambitious plan, after Schumacher rejects her offer, she tempts him into a personal extramarital affair. At the same time she also convinces Hackett to give her Howard’s show to run as he has become the spokesperson of all frustrated and despair people of America, disclosing the hypocrisy of the system.
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