In Network Paddy Chayefsky prophetically, scathingly satirizes the lurid depths to which TV will sink for ratings (though he must be in writers’ heaven chuckling about the current state of the media in general).
A ruthless network executive (Faye Dunaway) realizes a news anchorman (Peter Finch), driven crazy by the plunge in standards and full of righteous indignation, is worth more to her crazy than sane (his cri de coeur, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore,” makes a brilliant on-air promo).
News veteran William Holden is the weary voice of sanity as he watches the business (and the woman) he loves sink deeper into the morass. TV veteran Chayefsky is a master of portraying the madness of institutions, and here his script is prevented from slipping into mere parody by Sidney Lumet and the cast. Finch died soon after the production.
When Max (William Holden) and Diana (Faye Dunaway) discuss their affair, they refer to it as “a many-splendored thing,” an inside reference to the 1955 film Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing that also starred Holden.
Academy Award Nominations: 10, including Best Picture; Best Director; Best Actor: William Holden.
Cast: Peter Finch, Robert Duvall, William Holden, Wesley Addy, Faye Dunaway,
Director: Sidney Lumet
Producer: Howard Gottfried
Director of Photography: Owen Roizman
Editor: Alan Heim
Composer: Elliot Lawrence
Screenwriter: Paddy Chayefsky
USA / United Artists / 122 minutes / 1976