really a great film that gets better with each viewing. great editing, ensemble cast, and writing. 76 was a tough year for best pic – all the president’s men, network, rocky and taxi driver are all great films in their own way. my favorite is taxi driver, but i don’t have too much of a problem with any of them winning. i do think that network should have won for editing, though, instead of rocky. rocky gets the edge because it’s a sports movie and has “action” scenes, but when you look at this one closely it’s well put together and deserved the nod.
each character is so twisted and fucked up in their own special way. each one represents a changing of the guard and the shift of society at large and television more specifically. this is a film that is going to last a long time because of these reasons. it also works on a human level with dunaway as the vacuous broad who is married to her career and holden as the over-the-hill guy looking to revitalize his life in all the wrong places. beatrice straight won an academy for something like 4.5 minutes of screen time in large part because she shows the very real effects of man’s desire for adventure (i.e., holden’s dumping his wife for the newer model). it’s a sad film, yes, but it’s also a funny film. the satire extends beyond the tv world and into the world of political extremism. the communists and self-righteous revolutionaries who make a deal with the devil (dunaway/tv in general) are portrayed as equally obsessed with money – they come with their own team of lawyers and break their own values just to get their faces on the dummy box.
then there’s howard beale who is certifiably insane yet the only one who seems to have any real convictions beyond himself. in the end those don’t last because he’s too unstable and prone to visions of god (even if they come in the form of the chairman of the board).
a piece of work.