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Network (DVD Review)

9 Mar, 2006 By: John Latchem


‘Network' Is Superior Satire

$26.98 two-DVD set
Rated 'R'
Stars Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, Ned Beatty, Beatrice Straight.

Warner Home Video's recently released two-disc special edition of Network afforded me a chance to see the 1976 classic for the first time, and it instantly became one of my all-time favorites.

At its core, Network is a biting and hilarious satire. The Sidney Lumet-directed film won four Oscars — three for acting and a well-deserved screenwriting trophy for Paddy Chayefsky. That it didn't win best picture only shows how much stronger films were in the '70s.

The story opens with disgraced news anchor Howard Beale (Oscar-winner Peter Finch) losing his job, then threatening to kill himself on the air.

Who among us hasn't felt like shouting Beale's now-famous catch-phrase, “I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore,” at one time or another?

Languishing in last place, his network becomes willing to air anything for ratings. Its soulless programming director (Oscar-winner Faye Dunaway) makes Beale the star of a show that blurs the line between news and entertainment.

Freed from the burdens of self-censorship, Beale becomes an overnight sensation with his diatribes against corporate hypocrisy and the declining values of America.

Beale's bosses don't care what he says. They don't care that he might be losing his mind. In the dehumanizing world of television, they only care that his show stays on top.

When this “mad prophet of the airwaves” finally falls from grace, his “cancellation” is dealt with in a final business meeting that must be seen to be believed.

Network hits the right notes, and its themes are even more relevant in today's era of rampant reality programming.

This is a film that plays at a higher level.

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