This file was generated 2002-06-11 00:22 GMT. This movie's information hasn't changed since 2001-08-29.
Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> January 1999 >> Network
I didn't find myself laughing much while watching Network. The plot was hardly a laughing matter, being about the selling out of America, the replacement of journalism by entertainment, and the ruthless people who make it all happen. I found myself spooked by Howard Beale's pronouncements. They were too true to be funny. The scariest part, though, is that much of what's foreshadowed here has come true in the twenty-four years since. It wasn't until the last line of the movie, which is part of the narration, that I got to really laugh. It recast the entire movie up to that point in a different light. Then I saw just how funny the movie was as a whole, even though there are only a few moments along the way that stand alone as funny.
It is wonderful to see Robert Duvall in a good role. I last saw him in Deep Impact, where he served as the antiquated, sentimental astronaut. Here, he's a hard-nosed executive willing to do anything to get to the top. His feelings run the gamut of angry, and every level works. Peter Finch won a posthumous Academy Award for his portrayal here of a man who goes from calm to fainting-from-exhaustion lunacy. Every moment, from the "I'm not crazy" to the famous "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" is perfect.
I was particularly impressed that the most dramatic scenes of the movie, like Beatrice Straight and William Holden discussing what marriage means for them, are not backed by music. Sidney Lumet recognized the actors' ability to carry the scene without any help from the environment. In fact, I think the music was restricted to where the featured television programs had their music. This focuses the ears on the dialogue, and fortunately, the dialogue deserves it.