The first time I saw this film I was completely blown away. It’s eerie how a satirical film about television made 35 years ago can be so accurate within today’s world of television. I rewatched it recently and am just as in awe of it as ever. Network was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning four: Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay (won), Best Supporting Actor Ned Beatty, Best Supporting Actress Beatrice Straight (won), Best Actress Faye Dunaway (won), Best Actor William Holden, Best Actor Peter Finch (won), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were All The President’s Men, Bound For Glory, Taxi Driver and winner Rocky.
I am the first to admit I have not seen as many Lumet films as I would like; I’ve only seen six of his films. But I loved all six of those films. I also recently finished reading his book Making Movies and realized there were so many of his films that I need to see. I would recommend that book to anyone who just likes watching movies and especially to anyone who is thinking of going into filmmaking. He was a passionate filmmaker and if you couldn’t tell that from his films, that book removes any doubt. So I’m going to talk about those films that I have seen, as well as a few I have but that were nominated for Academy Awards. Lumet himself was nominated for Best Director four times and Best Original Screenplay once. Sadly, he never won a competitive Academy Award, although he received an Honorary Oscar in 2005.
I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work, or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild, and there’s nobody anywhere who knows what to do and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat. We sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had 15 homicides and 63 violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad. Worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything, everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out any more. We sit in the house, and the world we live in is getting smaller. All we say is “Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.” Well, I’m not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot. I don”t want you to write to your congressman, because I don’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression, the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street . All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad! You’ve gotta say “I’m a human being, goddammit! My life has value!” So… I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it and stick your head out and yell “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!”
I know there is at least one book on this subject and I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but thanks to TCM showing several movies from that year, I have to agree completely. What I mean by Cinema, is Hollywood and American Cinema, because a lot of how it changed was based on things French New Wave directors had already been doing for almost ten years.
One way to see this change is by looking at the five films that were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars that year. Four of the films are harbingers of the new Hollywood. One is old guard and because of that in addition I want to talk about another film that, although nominated for four Oscars, was not up for Best Picture.
The five films up for Best Picture were Bonnie & Clyde, Doctor Dolittle, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and In The Heat of the Night. The film sixth film I’m going to discuss is In Cold Blood.