1976 was a big year for movies including “Rocky,” “Taxi Driver,” All The President’s Men,” “The Bad News Bears,” “Logan’s Run,” “The Enforcer,” “The Outlaw Josey Wales,” “Marathon Man,” “The Omen” & “Carrie.” One movie in particular is about a news channel exploit an anchor ranting about his terrible life society, they’re only in it for viewership and profit. The basic premise I’m referring to is none other than “Network.”
Network was released in 1976. (same year Rocky came out) It earned critical acclaim from critics and movie goers alike. Besides positive reception, the film made revenue at the box office. Network became an eligible nominee at The Oscars winning “Best Original Screenplay,” (Paddy Chayefksy) “Best Actress” (Faye Dunaway) & “Best Actor.” (Peter Finch) Famous faces including Paul Thomas Anderson, (one of my favorite filmmakers) Emma Stone, (one of my favorite actresses) Ryan Murphy, Jim Carrey & Christopher Nolan (my idol) mentioned Network is one of their favorite films. The latter stated Sidney Lumet influenced his work.
There are two reasons why I wanna share my thoughts on Network. Number 1, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza” is earning praise and it’s slated to come out this Christmas opening nationwide. Christopher Nolan’s upcoming “Oppenheimer” with Cillian Murphy will be released on July 21st, 2023. Which is two days before my 30th birthday.
Today’s review contains no SPOILERS. I’m giving many of you a chance to see Network. Is it a masterpiece? Let’s find out, shall we?
Strengths & Weaknesses
Strengths: Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall & William Holden all did a great job for their respective performances.
Sidney Lumet did an amazing job directing the film.
Paddy Chayefsky did a decent job writing the award-winning dialogue driven script. For those who don’t know, he was good friends with Bob Fosse.
Cinematography never suffered from any technical problems throughout the whole thing.
UBS is obviously based on real life news network CBS owned by ViacomCBS. Even CBS is mentioned.
A network in decline airing reality tv and other bad shows just for profit and viewership predicted the downfall of notable networks like Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, MTV, A&E, TLC & E! Here’s a long list of shows that damaged the reputation of the aforementioned networks. “Teen Titans Go,” “The Powerpuff Girls 2016,” “iCarly,” “Victorious,” “Sam And Cat,” “The Fairly OddParents,” (when Poof showed up) “Hannah Montana,” “Jessie,” “Sonny With A Chance,” “Dog With A Blog,” “Teen Mom,” “Dance Moms,” “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” & “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” Oh how the mighty have fallen!
Although a tad dated, Network is disturbingly relevant. Because the film predicted CNN, Fox News, MSNBC & social media spreading panic across the globe dividing groups going against each other over controversial subjects in a never-ending dispute. To quote Jack Sparrow’s line from “Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End.” “The world’s still the same, there’s just less in it.”
To spice things up a notch. How about a drinking game? Take a shot every time somebody delivers a monologue, says the words Network, TV/television and show. Drink water or any non-alcoholic beverage. I do not condone alcohol poisoning.
The film also predicted competition against rival production companies. Care to explain The Streaming Wars with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Peacock, Hulu/Disney Plus, HBO Max & Paramount Plus?
A man ranting about his tragic life and society predates the talk show scene from “Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker.”
The infamous line. “I’m mad as hell and I can’t take it anymore” is now a meme. It still holds up whenever someone encourages people to do a trend on TikTok.
Primary Themes are Mass Media, Madness, Manipulation, Competition, Consequence & Paranoia. Each one is handled maturely.
Ned Beatty makes a prominent appearance. If you recall the pilot episode from “Better Call Saul,” It was actually Ned who said the line… “AND YOU WILL ATONE!” I’m gonna give Better Call Saul credit for introducing me to Network. I cannot wait for the show’s final season.
Weaknesses: The film is a tad dated. For example, popular shows from The 70s like “All In The Family,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Little House On The Prairie” & The Mary Tyler Moore Show” are mentioned.
The Final Verdict: A-
Despite one nitpick, Network is a masterpiece yet shockingly relevant over the paranoia of mass media manipulating groups people causing their friends and families to divide over controversial subjects. To put salt in the wound, channels that were at their peak, declined airing horrible shows. It serves as a cautionary tale if we’re not careful who to trust in the media. Chaos will ensue. If you’re psyched to see Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza like me, I highly recommend this gem.
I think Network should be added to The Criterion Collection.