Friday, September 01, 2006
BW declared it one of the best films he's ever seen. I'm with him: "Network" really says something, thanks to the incomparable Paddy Chayefsky's screenplay. Yeah, it veers into preachiness towards the end, but so what.
Dunaway looks as though she stepped put of the pages of a current fashion magazine: stick-thin with shoulder-length hair, dressed in gorgeously draped silk blouses and pencil-slim skirts (though Today's Woman would wear a bra--or at least a camisole). The two male leads, Peter Finch and William Holden, look timeless too. The film only shows its age with the cars, shlumpy hairstyles and clothes of the secondary characters, and of course the quaint sounds of real telephone bells and clickety-clacking typewriters and teletypes.
The film is most famous for crackpot newscaster Howard Beale (Finch) raving, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore." (BW liked the line so much that he's using it in a project for his American Lit class.) But the most killingly funny scenes, which I'd entirely forgotten, were the ones in which a radical black communist--obviously modeled on Angela Davis--gets into a spit-flying rage over subsidiary rights and profit points with Dunaway and the dorky network suits. Money, as always, is the great corrupter.
In another prescient scene, Ned Beatty as the CEO of a shadowy conglomerate gives a tour-de-force speech on how in the future there will be no more USA or Germany or Japan, just companies like IBM and Exxon, which are going to fulfill all our needs and make everyone happy. We just have to give in and go along with them. BRRR!