In 1976, news anchor turned prophet of the airwaves Howard Beale declared he was mad as hell and he wasn’t going to take it anymore. Today, amid a flood of unreal reality shows, infotainment news programming and hundreds of 24-hour channels, one might wonder if television hasn’t gone mad around us. So was the premise of writer Paddy Chayefsky‘s brilliant Oscar-winning satire NETWORK, directed to frightening perfection by Sidney Lumet and enlivened by a superb cast who embraced such madness with creative abandon. The movie posters alerted audiences with the tagline, “Prepare yourself for a perfectly outrageous motion picture!” That boast was as delightfully true then as it is today.
Peter Finch gave his last and finest film performance as Beale, the first actor to win the Best Actor Oscar posthumously for his work as the troubled madman who both uses and is used up by amoral, unblinking eye of television. Veteran actor William Holden also received a Best Actor nomination opposite his co-star by playing Max Schumacher, Beale’s best friend and head of the UBS network news division. Max protects Beale from this inhuman exploitation of a sick man until programming executive Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) turns the nightly news into a slickly produced freak show of unfettered editorial rants, pop culture distraction and salacious gossip trading. The top-notch cast also includes Oscar-winner Beatrice Straight, Robert Duvall and Ned Beatty.
Nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture and winner of four Oscars, NETWORK succeeds as a frighteningly prescient prediction of the corporate excesses of television today and as a massively entertaining dramatic comedy. This new Blu-ray edition shows off the power and glory of NETWORK in all its 1970s style, backed with a bonus clause of behind-the-scenes extra features documenting the production and lasting legacy of this sublimely satiric masterpiece. Check out our full review on FilmEdge and you’ll be shouting out your windows about how great this film is.