Thursday, March 25, 2010

#79 Network: And here are a few scenes from next week's show

1976. dir. Sidney Lumet, starring Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Robert Duvall.

Seen it before? No.

Peter Finch plays Howard Beale, a network news anchor who is due to be fired for low ratings. Since he has nothing to lose, he just decides to say whatever he wants on the air - first he says he's going to kill himself, then he declares that life is all "bullshit". His outbursts earn the network record high ratings, so his producer (Faye Dunaway) decides to exploit him. Also she's trying to put together a spectacularly ill-advised show starring a Communist guerilla group similar to the Symbionese Liberation Army. Ehh, that sublot sucked; the joke's not really funny anymore. I guess you had to be there. William Holden plays the head of the news department and Howard's old friend, who gets romantically involved with Faye Dunaway's character.

This movie is a brilliant satire, and is scary in how accurate it predicted the future of not just television and mass media, but corporate culture. Howard Beale is dubbed the "mad prophet of the airwaves" but the movie's real prophet is Ned Beatty's character. (I won't ruin the ending by describing what he says). My only problem was that it was pretty unrealistic how long-winded everyone is.

Position on the list: 213
Best Supporting Actress: Beatrice Straight, one of three acting Oscars this movie won (ties with Streetcar named Desire for most ever.) What's intersting about this is that she was onscreen for only 5 minutes and 40 seconds, making this the briefest Oscar-winning performance ever.

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