Until Saturday evening, I had never seen the movie “Network” that won four Oscars in 1976. Turner Classic Movies is probably my favorite TV channel in the US and, as usual, leading up to Oscar Sunday, TCM is showing 31 Days of Oscar…..in alphabetical order!
I don’t know how I missed this movie. I was recently out of Graduate School, wanted to stay in the Bay Area where jobs were scarce and was probably working around the clock to make ends meet. I remember the iconic line “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore”. I also remember that Peter Finch, who starred in the movie and won the Oscar for Best Actor, died before he could pick up his Oscar. The belief is that his heart was already weak and some of the long impassioned speeches compromised his heart even more and he died of a heart attack months after the release of the movie.
What was stunning to me as I watched Saturday evening, was how prescient the movie was. Although supposed to be a “outrageous satire”(Leonard Maltin) , it predicted the news as entertainment and the hero worship of men who express their anger on TV and therefore relate and identify with the supposed mass majority of the American public. The movie opened forty-one years ago and predicted the rise of Donald Trump: a figure that TV made.
In a review that the great Roger Ebert wrote in 1976, he said “we may doubt that a Howard Beale could get on the air, but we have no doubt the idea would be discussed as the movie suggests. And then Chayefsky and the director, Sidney Lumet, edge the backstage network material over into satire, too–but subtly, so that in the final late-night meeting where the executives decide what to do about Howard Beale, we have entered the madhouse without noticing.”
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the madhouse.
This is indeed a great movie. I encourage you to read the Ebert review then think about the rise of Donald Trump.
Don’t forget to watch the Oscars this coming Sunday 4pm PST and 7pm EST. There’s always something memorable even if you have to slog through a lot of commercials and boring speeches to get there.
This will be my last post for awhile. On Thursday morning, I will be having total hip replacement surgery on my right hip. I’m told that the process has advanced so much that I could go home the same day. I asked to spend one night in the hospital. I have to learn Physical Therapy and be disciplined about doing it three times a day. My goal and reward is, if everything goes well as is predicted, I have a return flight to Paris on May 2nd. I miss Paris terribly. It is something I will hold in front of me as the undisciplined part of me tries to talk me out of doing PT.