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“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” This deliriously dark and wicked satire of television run amuck, directed by Sidney Lumet from Paddy Chayefsky’s scathing, Oscar-winning screenplay, is a masterpiece of ‘70s Hollywood cinema.
Peter Finch won a posthumous Best Actor Oscar for his iconic portrayal of Howard Beale, an evening news anchorman who, upon learning that he’s about to be fired due to his station’s declining popularity, transforms into an unhinged demagogue whose nightly televised rants turn the show into a carnival of angry populism, ridiculous radicalism, and, of course, sky-high ratings. The network’s ruthless new head programmer, Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway, whose ferocious performance won her the Best Actress Oscar), sees an opportunity to exploit the situation and cunningly molds the unhinged newsman into a modern-day prophet/martyr, whose stated plans to kill himself on air whip his audience into a feverish frenzy, much to the head-shaking consternation of Max Schumacher, (William Holden), an old-school news producer who serves as the film’s moralizing Paddy Chayefsky surrogate. As a critique of the news media and an expression of political outrage, there are few films that resonate with our own current historical moment more presciently than Network, which features a stellar ensemble cast including Beatrice Straight (winner of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar), Robert Duvall and Ned Beatty. (Dir. by Sidney Lumet, 1976, USA, 121 mins., Rated R)

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