Even if you have never actually seen the movie, “Network”, you probably know the most famous quote from it; “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
The now infamous line uttered by Peter Finch, in a performance that won him the Academy Award for best actor (Note that is was the first and only Academy Award to be given out posthumously till Heath Ledger won for playing the Joker in, “The Dark Knight”) will go down in history as one of the most famous movie quotes of all time. However, the speeches Finch delivers later in the movie are ten times more poignant and much more powerful and meaningful and should be heard and seen by all movie lovers. The film also contains an amazing little speech delivered by a well warranted over-acting, Ned Beatty (see the picture above) in one of the greatest film cameos of all time.
The film follows the dealings of butting heads at UBS, and no not the bank, but the lowest rated television station, at the beginning of the movie. Opening up as two marvels of the news world, anchor Howard Beale (Finch) and producer, Max Schumacher (William Holden) are in middle of a drunken binge; as Howard was earlier that day, informed he was being let go. Days before his last broadcast, Howard announces, live on the evening news, that on the following Thursday’s show, he was going to kill himself on air and it should get a hell of a rating.
These events start to unfold what is by far, one of the greatest films ever made, turning the steady news man, Howard Beale into, “The mad prophet of the airwaves”. A stellar cast of, William Holden, Peter Finch, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, Ned Beatty and Beatrice Straight (who won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for “Network”, for a role that had a total screen time of 5 minutes and 40 seconds) are brought together by the underrated genius of Sidney Lumet and the incomparable writing of Paddy Chayefky.
“Network” was a film ahead of its time. Chayefsky wrote about the news becoming part of a corporation and more of an entertainment show than informative, way before it became a reality. “Network” was a vision of fear, of what American’s may become, and basically have. It picked up on the fact that anything that was going to be associated with “the tube” was going to change us. In one of the best rants delivered by Finch in the film, he goes to explain to the live audience and the millions of people watching him on T.V. to stop listening to him and what he and the rest of the personalities on T.V. tell them to do; “But, man, you’re never going to get any truth from us. We’ll tell you anything you want to hear; we lie like hell. We’ll tell you that, uh, Kojak always gets the killer, or that nobody ever gets cancer at Archie Bunker’s house, and no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don’t worry, just look at your watch; at the end of the hour he’s going to win. We’ll tell you any shit you want to hear. We deal in *illusions*, man! None of it is true! But you people sit there, day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds… We’re all you know. You’re beginning to believe the illusions we’re spinning here. You’re beginning to think that the tube is reality, and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you! You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even *think* like the tube! This is mass madness, you maniacs! In God’s name, you people are the real thing! *WE* are the illusion! So turn off your television sets. Turn them off now. Turn them off right now. Turn them off and leave them off! Turn them off right in the middle of the sentence I’m speaking to you now! TURN THEM OFF…” When I see the youth of today and how so many young people try to live the lives they see shows like”The Real World” or “Sex and the City” I can’t help but think of this speech; I mean “The Real World”?
Do yourself a favor and see “Network” if you haven’t. It is poignant, funny, endearing, and thought provoking. It also contains some of the best writing ever put to film and the greatest opening and closing line of any movie I have ever seen. You will not be sorry. You can of course rent the film on Netflix or purchase it from Amazon. Do enjoy.