The Oscar Project
I have to apologize for being a little late with this week’s recap post. For anyone playing along at home, the Oscars were this past Sunday night so that was taking most of my attention. Fortunately, I had been able to get my viewing of this week’s film (Network) a little early so I’m only behind on doing this write-up.
As a reminder, the category this week was a Best Original Screenplay Winner. The assumption I made was that this was a winner at the Oscars, as there are other screenplay awards. If you’re still looking for a film to pick for this week, check this link of the Best Original Screenplay Winners from the Oscars.
Now, on to my thoughts about Network. This film is not for everyone. There is a certain sense of humor required to “get” a film like Network, and thankfully I have that sense of humor. As you’ll know if you’ve been following along with my challenge this year, all the films I’m watching are first time watches for me and Network was no exception. I have heard about and read about this film for years, and never made the time to sit down and watch it.
Things continue with Beale doing the news, eventually leading to his “mad as hell” tirade, before he is given a new show of his own where the mad as hell catchphrase becomes the mantra of Beale and his audience. Christensen begins a romance with Beale’s former boss Max Schumacher (William Holden) whose marriage suffers as a result. Schumacher is released from his duties at the station in favor of Christensen who continues pressing Frank Hackett (Robert Duvall) for support. Ultimately, the ratings of Beale’s new show never see sustained success and the leadership decides once again to remove him from the air, permanently.
This is obviously a simplified overview of the plot of a film that has many moving pieces. There are elements of racial and class politics as undertones and a subplot of Schumacher’s affair with Christensen and how that destroys his family. After the initial action to set the plot in motion, Beale himself becomes almost like a background prop, something to be moved around from one place to another to advance the action. Indeed, Beale almost acts as an animal at times, and is thus treated as if he were nothing more than an animal. And **SPOILER ALERT** just like a dairy cow who has stopped giving milk, when Beale runs dry, he is shot down and killed live on air, giving one last bump in the ratings.
The film was obviously well received at the time. It did win four Academy Awards (from nine nominations) at the 49th Academy Awards including Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor (Finch), Best Actress (Dunaway), and Best Supporting Actress (Beatrice Straight as Schumacher’s wife). I can completely understand why it won for screenplay, as the script gives each member of an all-star cast at least one chance to shine. They all get monologues throughout the film, not least of which is Finch’s performance in the famous “mad as hell” scene. The only acting nominees from the film that did not win were for Ned Beatty as the UBS owner Arthur Jensen and for Holden who was nominated alongside Finch in the Best Actor category. I can understand Beatty not winning because while his monologue is just as impressive as the rest, it’s really his only major scene, while the rest of the winners appear throughout the film.
This is one of those films that I’ve always wanted to make time for and while it’s clearly not intended for all audiences, I think it’s absolutely fantastic. I can see why it appears on a number of top 100 lists of films including AFI’s 100 Greatest American Movies of all Time. If you haven’t seen this one before, do yourself a favor, watch it, and then get up, go to the window and yell “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this any more.”
We're finally getting to some of the big categories here with my predictions of Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Don't forget to check out the previous prediction posts in my series to see all of my predictions and look for the last few posts with the Best Actress/Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture categories on Monday.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?