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Review by Brian Koller
3½ stars out of 4
"Network" is an excellent black comedy that attacks
the television industry, its lust for ratings, and its
willingness to sacrifice any standards necessary to
achieve ratings. While some of the many speeches by
the actors have more passion than spontaneity, they
are well written, and the various plot lines fit together
like a glove.
William Holden plays a world-weary news executive at
money-losing television network UBS. Peter Finch
is the long-time UBS news commentator. He is to be
yanked from the air for low ratings, but in one
of his last broadcasts threatens to commit suicide
on the air. Audience reaction is sensational, and
thanks to prodding from programmer Faye Dunaway,
Finch keeps his job. The UBS evening news becomes
an entertainment show, complete with psychics, gossips,
and wild rantings from Finch, who closes each broadcast
by fainting onstage.
Holden tries to fight the transformation of the
news show, and is fired by UBS boss Robert Duvall.
Duvall is even more ambitious and cynical than
Dunaway, and it is one of his most energetic
"Network" is unusual in that the two male leads are
men in late middle age. Both Finch and Holden were
nominated for Best Actor. Holden gives the better
performance, and has a magnificent gravelly voice.
However, Finch had died before the awards ceremony,
and his award for Best Actor may have been for
Despite having a very small role, Beatrice Straight
won Best Supporting Actress. She plays Holden's
wife, who has been abandoned by Holden for Dunaway.
Straight and Holden have an argument that is
very well written and acted.
Dunaway also won an Oscar for Best Actress. "Network"
deserved won Best Writing, and was nominated for
Best Cinematography, Film Editing, Director (Sidney
Lumet) and Best Picture. While "Rocky" won that year,
"Network" was the real star of the 1977 Academy Awards.
Copyright © 1999 Brian Koller