by Tom Ingram

Genre Comedy
People Faye Dunaway; William Holden; Peter Finch; Robert Duvall; Ned Beatty; Beatrice Straight; Sidney Lumet d.; Paddy Chayevsky w.; Elliot Lawrence m.
/10 9

A veteran newscaster (Finch) threatens to kill himself on air after he is fired. When the swear-filled rant he delivers instead of an on-air apology draws millions of viewers, an ambitious programming executive (Dunaway) decides to take over the news show and ramp up the wacky populist madness to increase the network’s ratings.

This movie reminded me a lot of 1997’s Wag the Dog, both of which are even more relevant now than they were at the time. It’s hard to imagine Network being made ten years before Fox even existed. The satire is spot-on, and the distinctive performances—Dunaway’s manic enthusiasm, Finch’s apocalyptic sermonizing, and Beatty’s even more apocalyptic sermonizing—make it a pleasure to watch all the way through, even after you’ve seen the scene. You know the one. There is a romantic subplot between Dunaway and Holden that is completely unnecessary and hurts the film, but it’s otherwise as close to perfect as you get in this life.

2h1m; 1976; Colour; Oscars for Best Actor (Finch), Actress (Dunaway), Supporting Actress (Straight), Original Screenplay; Oscar nods for Best Actor (Holden), Supporting Actor (Beatty), Cinematography, Editing, Director, Picture